By: Andrea Dillon
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Talking to your children about the world is a crucial aspect and benefit to homeschooling. Having in-depth one-on-one conversations on topics that make an impact can solidify your relationship with your children and help them navigate the world.
One essential topic to cover is sexuality and gender. Many families are looking for a progressive homeschool curriculum to help them tackle these topics. While more curriculums are starting to include information on these topics, you may want to delve deeper into the subject. We are here to help you navigate the conversation and locate resources to help you and your children learn.
How Do You Explain LGBTQ+ To A Child?
The best way to start conversations on new topics is to start with things your children can understand and relate to. Start the conversation talking about people you know, books you can read together, or movie/tv shows that your children enjoy. Starting with these easy to access jumping-off points can make the conversation flow smoothly and make it less likely to feel forced. Once you have a basic understanding of LGBTQ+ you can move on to the history of the LGBTQ+ community.
What Does LGBTQ+ Mean?
LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (or questioning). These are different words to identify various forms of sexuality/gender.
Here are some basic definitions to help you:
- Lesbian is the term for a woman that is attracted to another woman.
- Gay is the term for anyone that is attracted to their own gender. While this term is more commonly used for men attracted to other men, it can also apply as another word for lesbian.
- Bisexual is a term used to describe someone that is attracted to their own gender as well as the opposite gender.
- Transgender is a term used to describe someone who’s gender identity doesn’t match their physical gender.
- Queer is a broader term that some in the LGBTQ+ community use to encompass the entire community. This term can still be offensive to some so only use it if the person self identifies this as their chosen term first.
- Questioning is a term used to describe someone that is still in the process of identifying their place in the LGBTQ+ community.
These are not all the terms used, however, as there is still the +. PFLAG has an expansive glossary to help explain the other terms.
What Does Gender Mean For Kids?
Many parents struggle to explain gender. What is gender identity, and what does gender expression mean?
- Physical gender (sex) is the gender you were born and announced as at birth.
- Gender identity is how you see yourself internally. Your gender identity may or may not match your physical gender.
- Gender expression is how you represent yourself externally.
Here is a great video to help explain it to children
What About Pronouns?
Pronouns are the words that function in the place of a noun. These are words like I, you, he, she, it, we, and they plus the variations of them. The best way to know what name and pronoun someone identifies with is to ask! Check out the video below for a great explanation of pronouns and their importance.
LGBTQ+ Educational Resources
The best way to educate your children is by learning yourself! Below you will find websites, book recommendations, shows/film, and podcasts to help you and your children learn more about LGBTQ+.
|Educational LGBTQ+ Websites||LGBTQ+ Books||LGBTQ+ TV/Film||LGBTQ+ Podcasts|
Educational LGBTQ+ Websites
Advocates for Youth “works alongside thousands of young people here in the U.S. and around the globe as they fight for sexual health, rights, and justice.”
GLSEN Educator Resources are available to help create “LGBTQ visibility and affirmation in any curriculum.”
Human Rights Campaign “represents a force of more than 3 million members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization, HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.”
Queer Kid Stuff started in 2015 to tackle the subject; What Does Gay Mean? Since then, Queer Kid Stuff has become so much more than a web series and now contains a full site with educational resources and live events.
Resources for Families of LGBTQ Youth are resources “to help families support their lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth; understand what to expect, and learn how to talk about a number of issues that may be impacting their youth.” These resources are provided by the Children’s Bureau and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Safe Schools Coalition Lesson Plans for educating elementary, middle, and highschoolers on sexuality and gender.
|LGBTQ+ Kids Books||LGBTQ+ Teen Books||LGBTQ+ Books for Parents/Adults|
LGBTQ+ Kids Books
“This gorgeous picture book—a modern fairy tale about becoming the person you feel you are inside—will delight people of all ages.”
“At the penguin house at the Central Park Zoo, two penguins named Roy and Silo were a little bit different from the others. But their desire for a family was the same. And with the help of a kindly zookeeper, Roy and Silo got the chance to welcome a baby penguin of their very own.”
“Knights, dragons, and princesses are the things all good fairytales are made of, but what happens when the tale has an LGBTQ ending? Follow Cedric on his journey from his days on a humble pumpkin farm to the adventures that lead him to become a full-fledged knight. Once a knight, discover how he uses his cleverness and courage to vanquish a fire-breathing dragon and rescue a beautiful prince and princess. It is only then does Sir Cedric face his most difficult challenge. Will he follow his heart, and prove that sometimes the bravest thing you can do is choose for yourself how your fairy tale ends?”
“Heather’s favorite number is two. She has two arms, two legs, two pets—and two mommies. When Heather goes to school for the first time, someone asks her about her daddy, but Heather doesn’t have a daddy. Then something interesting happens. When Heather and her classmates all draw pictures of their families, not one drawing is the same.”
“The story of a transgender child based on the real-life experience of Jazz Jennings, who has become a spokesperson for transkids everywhere.”
“Introducing Teddy introduces the youngest readers to understanding gender identity and transition in an accessible and heart-warming story about being true to yourself and being a good friend.”
“This sweet, straightforward exploration of gender identity will give children a fuller understanding of themselves and others. With child-friendly language and vibrant art, It Feels Good to Be Yourself provides young readers and parents alike with the vocabulary to discuss this important topic with sensitivity.”
“While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a butter-yellow curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes — and even more importantly, what will she think about how Julián sees himself? Mesmerizing and full of heart, Jessica Love’s author-illustrator debut is a jubilant picture of self-love and a radiant celebration of individuality.”
“This colorful, simple, and touching story promotes diversity and offers a valuable lesson to the youngest of audiences: it is our differences that unite us.”
“This is an empowering and brightly-illustrated children’s book for children aged 3+ to help children engage with gender identity in a fun, uplifting way. It supports trans children who are worried about being bullied or misunderstood.”
“In this modern fairy tale, a noble prince and a brave knight come together to defeat a terrible monster and in the process find true love in a most unexpected place.”
“This brightly illustrated children’s book provides a straightforward introduction to gender for anyone aged 5-8. It presents clear and direct language for understanding and talking about how we experience gender: our bodies, our expression and our identity. An interactive three-layered wheel included in the book is a simple, yet powerful, tool to clearly demonstrate the difference between our body, how we express ourselves through our clothes and hobbies, and our gender identity. Ideal for use in the classroom or at home, a short page-by-page guide for adults at the back of the book further explains the key concepts and identifies useful discussion points.”
LGBTQ+ Teen Books
“In her remarkable memoir, Jazz reflects on these very public experiences and how they have helped shape the mainstream attitude toward the transgender community. But it hasn’t all been easy. Jazz has faced many challenges, bullying, discrimination, and rejection, yet she perseveres as she educates others about her life as a transgender teen.”
“Teen boys find love when their parents’ NASA mission uproots their lives in this sweet debut perfect for Adam Silvera fans.”
“LGBTQ is the indispensable resource for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning teens—and their allies. This fully revised and updated third edition includes current information on LGBTQ terminology, evolving understandings of gender identity and sexual identity, LGBTQ rights, and much more.”
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.
“Teen life is hard enough, but for teens who are LGBTQ, it can be even harder. When do you decide to come out? Will your friends accept you? And how do you meet people to date? Queer is a humorous, engaging, and honest guide that helps LGBTQ teens come out to friends and family, navigate their social life, figure out if a crush is also queer, and challenge bigotry and homophobia.”
LGBTQ+ Books For Adults/Parents
“With advice on every aspect of life as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer woman—from your first Pride to confronting discrimination in the workplace—there is guidance for some of the most major parts of living in a world that can vacillate between supportive and cruel.”
“The inspiring true story of transgender actor and activist Nicole Maines, whose identical twin brother, Jonas, and ordinary American family join her on an extraordinary journey to understand, nurture, and celebrate the uniqueness in us all.”
“I Promised Not to Tell is a thought-provoking true story that transitions beautifully between the family’s personal journey and some of the larger societal issues that face the transgender community today.”
“Written in an accessible Q&A format, here, finally, is the go-to resource for parents hoping to understand and communicate with their gay child. Through their LGBTQ-oriented site, the authors are uniquely experienced to answer parents’ many questions and share insight and guidance on both emotional and practical topics. Filled with real-life experiences from gay kids and parents, this is the book gay kids want their parents to read.”
Representations of members of the LGBTQ+ communities in TV and film can help educate and open the door for further conversation with your children. Below are some suggested items to watch together.
Andi Mack (TV-G)
A heartwarming coming-of-age story full of diverse characters.
The Bravest Knight (TV-PG)
“The Bravest Knight is a story of a young pumpkin farmer named Cedric, as he attempts to become the greatest knight who ever lived. Now grown and married to the prince of his dreams, Sir Cedric recounts his fairytale adventures to his adopted daughter Nia, showing her the paths and pitfalls that await her on the way to knighthood.” Based off the book The Bravest Knight Who Ever Lived.
Danger & Eggs (7+)
“Danger & Eggs follows the endless adventures of a fearless, teal-haired girl named D.D. Danger (voiced by SNL’s Aidy Bryant) and her ever cautious best friend, a giant talking egg named Phillip. Together, join this buddy system as they explore an underground laboratory, meet a tech-savvy raccoon, and find moments of heart in the smallest bite of broccoli.”
The Fosters (TV-14)
This TV drama follows the family of an interracial lesbian couple and their blended family.
“A closeted boy runs the risk of being outed by his own heart after it pops out of his chest to chase down the boy of his dreams.”
Love Simon (PG-13)
“A closeted gay teen deals with coming out to his family and friends in this charming coming-of-age tale.” Based on the book Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.
Loud House (TV-Y7)
“Ever wonder what it’s like to grow up in a big family? Eleven-year-old Lincoln Loud gives viewers an inside look at how to survive the chaos of a huge household, especially as the only boy with ten sisters!”
“Set in the world of the original 2018 film “Love, Simon,” the series follows Victor, a new student at Creekwood High School on his own journey of self-discovery, facing challenges at home, adjusting to a new city, and struggling with his sexual orientation. When it all seems too much, he reaches out to Simon to help him navigate the ups and downs of high school.”
“Soldier Adora finds a magic sword — and her identity as legendary hero She-Ra. She joins the Rebellion, but her best friend stays with the evil Horde.”
Steven Universe (TV-PG)
“Steven is still an over-enthusiastic boy and more often than not, that gets in the way of his progress towards becoming a Gem. However, little by little, episode by episode he learns more about the Crystal Gems, their secrets, their history and the full extent of their powers.”
Podcasts are becoming an accessible and entertaining way to learn more about others. These podcasts focus on the LGBTQ+ experience and are for 18 years old and older. Some episodes may be suitable and relevant for younger children; however, do so at your discretion.
Beyond Gender is a podcast that features “interviews with a variety of trans and gender non-conforming identified individuals.”
Gayish is “an independent gay podcast where Mike Johnson and Kyle Getz talk about a different gay stereotype each episode.”
LGBT Stories “is a podcast that aims to illuminate the intimate lives of LGBTQ people from around the world as a way to light a path toward acceptance among all people.”
LGBTQ&A is a podcast of “weekly interviews with the most interesting LGBTQ people in the world. Recent guests include Laverne Cox, Roxane Gay, Pete Buttigieg, and Trixie Mattel. LGBTQ&A is hosted by Jeffrey Masters and produced by The Advocate magazine, in partnership with GLAAD.”
Nancy is a “critically-acclaimed podcast featuring queer stories and conversations, and hosted by two best friends, neither of whom are named Nancy. It’s a podcast about how we define ourselves, and the journey it takes to get there.”
Queerology was “named one of the 12 Best LGBTQ Podcasts of 2020 by “O: The Oprah Magazine.” How might we live better as queer people of faith? Matthias Roberts brings together theologians, psychologists, poets, thinkers, and change makers for conversations around belief and being.”
Queery with Cameron Esposito “an hour long-conversation between host and standup comic, Cameron Esposito, and some of the brightest luminaries in the LGBTQ+ family. QUEERY explores individual stories of identity, personality and the shifting cultural matrix around gender, sexuality and civil rights.”
SarahTalk Podcast “is an LGBTQ-positive talk show hosted by an atheist transgender woman.”
This Way Out is the “only internationally distributed weekly LGBTQ radio program, currently airing on some 200 local community radio stations around the world. The award-winning half-hour magazine-style program features a summary of some of the major news events in or affecting the queer community (NewsWrap), in-depth coverage of major events, interviews with key queer figures, plus music, literature, entertainment — all the information and culture of a community on the move!”
Teaching LGBTQ+ History
For older children, teens, and adults, a look into the history of LGBTQ+ and the discrimination faced by those in the LGBTQ+ community can be included. We have rounded up some resources below to aid your lessons.
|LGBTQ+ History Lessons/Audio||LGBTQ+ History Books||LGBTQ+ History Video|
LGBTQ+ History Lessons/Audio
GLSEN LGBTQ History contains resources for free and for purchase to help you and your children learn.
History is Gay “is a monthly podcast where two queer nerds use their passion for social justice, history, and storytelling to examine the overlooked and underappreciated queer ladies, gents, and gentle-enbies from the unexplored corners of history. Because history has never been as straight as you think.”
History of Gay Rights from early movements to marrige right by History.com.
Making Gay History podcast “mines Eric Marcus’s decades old audio archive of rare interviews — conducted for his award-winning oral history of the LGBTQ civil rights movement — to create intimate, personal portraits of both known and long-forgotten champions, heroes, and witnesses to history.”
Teaching LGBT History: An Educator’s Guide is a resource and information guide compiled by Our Family Coalition on behalf of the FAIR Education Act Implementation Coalition.
LGBTQ+ History Books
|Children’s Books on LGBTQ+ History||Teen/ Adult Books on LGBTQ+ History|
Children’s Books on LGBTQ+ History
“Who transformed George Washington’s demoralized troops at Valley Forge into a fighting force that defeated an empire? Who cracked Germany’s Enigma code and shortened World War II? Who successfully lobbied the US Congress to outlaw child labor? And who organized the 1963 March on Washington? Ls, Gs, Bs, and Ts, that’s who.”
“In this deeply moving and empowering true story, young readers will trace the life of the Gay Pride Flag, from its beginnings in 1978 with social activist Harvey Milk and designer Gilbert Baker to its spanning of the globe and its role in today’s world.”
“This beautiful, bold book celebrates the achievements of LGBTQ+ people through history and from around the world—featuring dynamic full-color portraits of a diverse selection of 53 inspirational role models accompanied by short biographies that focus on their incredible successes.”
“Set against the backdrop of San Francisco during the gay rights movement of the 1970s, Gilbert’s story unfolds just like the flag he created: in a riot of color, joy, and pride. Today the flag is everywhere, even in the small town where Gilbert grew up!”
“Celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising with the very first picture book to tell of its historic and inspiring role in the gay civil rights movement.”
“This book is about the Stonewall Riots, a series of spontaneous, often violent demonstrations by members of the gay (LGBTQ+) community in reaction to a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. The Riots are attributed as the spark that ignited the LGBTQ+ movement.”
Teen/ Adult Books on LGBTQ+ History
The book “captures the true story of the gay rights movement from the 1960s to the present, through richly detailed, stunning interviews with the leaders, activists, and ordinary people who witnessed the movement and made it happen.”
Beautiful and engaging, this book tells LGBTQ+ American history, state-by-state, highlighting significant people, places and “queer facts” so that all readers learn that LGBTQ+ history is American History.
“Through engrossing narratives, letters, drawings, poems, and more, the book encourages young readers, of all identities, to feel pride at the accomplishments of the LGBTQ people who came before them and to use history as a guide to the future.”
“A riveting exploration of the Stonewall Riots and the national Gay Rights movement that followed is eye-opening, unflinching, and inspiring.”
“Through the lenses of protest, power, and pride, We Are Everywhere is an essential and empowering introduction to the history of the fight for queer liberation. Combining exhaustively researched narrative with meticulously curated photographs, the book traces queer activism from its roots in late-nineteenth-century Europe–long before the pivotal Stonewall Riots of 1969–to the gender warriors leading the charge today.”
LGBTQ+ History Video
American Experience: Stonewall Uprising (Not Rated)
“Stonewall Uprising explores the dramatic event that launched a worldwide rights movement. When police raided a Mafia-run gay bar in Greenwich Village, the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969, gay men and women did something they had not done before: they fought back. As the streets of New York erupted into violent protests and street demonstrations, the collective anger announced that the gay rights movement had arrived.”
“Academy award-winning actor and singer Billy Porter takes us on a journey through time to explore the more obscure political actions that have changed the course of LGBTQIA+ history. Before that fateful day at Stonewall in 1969, there were nearly 50 years worth of queer political actions that took place but today, they are still overlooked when regarding modern history and civil rights movements.”
History Of Pride Explained
“Have you ever wondered about the beginnings of homosexuality? Get to know a little bit about the fight for equality as Wanda Sykes takes us on a journey all the way back to the Middle Ages.”
How To Be An Ally
Now you know more about the LGBTQ+ community and the history behind it. What if you don’t fit in that community. How can you step up and become an ally?
Ten Ways to Be An Ally
- Keep Learning. The above resources are only to get you started. Keep searching for more information.
- Treat others with respect. Above all, we are all humans and deserve the same dignity and respect, no matter what.
- Listen. Hear what the members of the LGBTQ+ community need from you and do that.
- Celebrate diversity. Learn to embrace and love all the differences in the people around you.
- Speak up. Be vocal in pushing back on stereotypes, and homophobic insults
- Do not assume. Ask for preferred names and pronouns when you meet new people.
- Show up. Attend LGBTQ+ events near you if you can.
- Know you aren’t perfect. Identify your prejudices and bias and work to change those.
- Stand up. Defend your LGBTQ+ friends when they face discrimination.
- Identify yourself. Represent your support through pro-LGBTQ paraphernalia, or items with anti-prejudice or pro-diversity themes.
Teaching your children about sexuality, gender, and the LGBTQ+ community will go a long way toward making the world a more welcoming and beautiful place.
If you know of any resources that I have missed, please let me know in the comment section below.