LGBTQ+: 2 Articles

Helping Kids Understand Gender Nonconformity: An Interview with Jacob

Recently, Magination Press Family had the opportunity to interview Jacob, the subject of Jacob’s Room to Choose, a picture book by Sarah and Ian Hoffman. Jacob and his friend, Sophie, are gender nonconforming kindergartners. In this case, that means they both wear clothes usually associated with the opposite gender. In the story, Jacob and Sophie get chased out of the boys’ and girls’ bathrooms, respectively, because other kids don’t think they belong based on their appearance. Jacob’s teacher, Jacob, and his classmates help teach other kids in the school that bathrooms are for everyone, and everyone should get to choose which bathroom they’d like to use. In the interview, Jacob shares his feelings, experiences, and favorite things. MP: In Jacob's Room to Choose, we learn about how other kids reacted to you in the bathroom at school. How did their reactions make you feel? Jacob:  Bad. MP: Can you tell me more? Jacob: Sometimes I was mad. Sometimes I was scared.  I just wanted to use the bathroom and be left alone. MP: Did it help knowing Sophie was having the same problems? Jacob: It was better not being the only one. But Sophie felt bad, too. MP: Did the lesson Ms. Reeves taught your class help? Jacob: The kids in our class knew us, so they didn’t bother us so much. It was mostly the big kids. But having everyone help teach the big kids was good. Everybody in school learned to leave other people alone in the bathroom. That made things better. MP: How do you manage other public bathrooms? Jacob: My parents go in with me. Or they send me with a group of friends, so I'm safe. MP: How do you feel when people think you're a girl? Jacob: I don’t mind. Usually I don’t correct them, because it takes too long. But if I’m going to know them, I tell them I’m a boy. Otherwise they get embarrassed. Like my art teacher! She thought I was a girl all year. When she found out I was a boy, she said, “Why didn’t you tell me?!” She was really upset, but I wasn’t. What’s wrong with being a girl? MP: What would you like other kids to know about you? Jacob: I like the things I like, just like everybody else likes the things they like. I don’t really like it when you make a big deal about the way I look. MP: Thank you for sharing your story with us in Jacob's New Dress and Jacob's Room to Choose. Do you have another book in mind? Jacob: Sarah and Ian asked me what I want people to know. There’s lots of things, so I’m helping them with another book. MP: Do you have a favorite book? Jacob: My big book of Norse myths. MP: What do you like to do at recess? Jacob: I like make-believe best. And tree climbing. MP: What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? Jacob: Coconut. MP: Coconut. Seriously? Jacob:

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Helping Kids Understand Gender Nonconformity: An Interview with Jacob 2019-06-19T17:36:58-04:00

Rainbow Families and Colorful Mindfulness

Rainbow: A First Book of Pride links rainbows (who doesn’t love seeing a rainbow?!) to the rainbow flag (which we see throughout the world) and to rainbow families. LGBTQ+ families with two moms, two dads, one mom or dad, transgender parents, and parents of color are everywhere!  The flag is a celebration of pride during LGBTQ+ Pride Month especially, but it’s also an invitation to feel proud of who you are and proud of your family all year long. Rainbow is a book for ALL families who stand up for inclusion, equality, and positivity. Children grow up in all kinds of families, and every child should feel free to shout out the pride they feel for her family, regardless of its composition. Books and children go together. While access to books can vary, it is my hope that we are moving toward increasing accessibility of books for all children. And when children pick up books to read, it is important that they see themselves and their families reflected on the pages. Nothing is more delightful than hearing, “That’s me!” or “That’s my family!” from a child who recognizes herself in a story. Not only does this encourage further reading, but it also allows a child to relate to important messages contained in the storylines. Parents also light up at the sight of seeing their child engaged with a book. Their investment in books only grows when those books serve as mirrors of their own experience as a family. I decided to write Rainbow because, as a gay dad, there were very few picture books showing LGBTQ+ families when my daughter was young. I wanted to create a book that showed rainbow families going about their lives just like every other family. And Gilbert Baker’s original rainbow flag was turning 40 (1978 - 2018), so it was timely to show kids just what the different colors of the flag mean. I also wanted to join in commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots (1969-2019), which started as a protest and evolved into a celebration of queer pride. As a child and adult clinical psychologist, I also wrote Rainbow because after 30 years in practice, I continue to hear too many stories of LGBTQ+ individuals experiencing some form of teasing and/or discrimination. We simply need more children’s books depicting LGBTQ+ families in order to help reduce prejudice and increase total acceptance. While Rainbow may look like a book only for LGBTQ+ families, my intention is for ALL kinds of families to enjoy it. In American schools today, LGBTQ+ families are part of the community. While the reception of these families may be generally warm, unfortunately, this is not always the case – and both children and parents can feel this exclusion. Rainbow is intended to be a helpful and kind way to introduce queer families to ALL parents and schools, particularly those who have not shared in the community together. Many of us live in a very diverse world, and

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Rainbow Families and Colorful Mindfulness 2019-06-14T18:25:05-04:00