Yet, Drag Queen Story Hour and children’s books about LGBTQIA+ topics are a standard in my household because they help me teach my kids a lesson I struggle to teach them on my own: Love yourself for who you are, live authentically no matter what someone might think, lean on those who support you, and focus on the love and support in your life, wherever that may come from.
As our children enter school and go into the upper grades of their schools, they face criticism and judgment. Let’s be honest; they also face bullies. Sadly, they aren’t extinct. They also become acutely aware of adult bullies in their parents’ lives. No matter how hard we’ve tried to maintain the shield, it begins to crumble, and there isn’t much we can do to hide our kids from the harsher realities of life.
As any parent will tell you, it is painful when their child gets excluded from a party or is told they can’t participate in a game at recess with the kids they would like to play with or is made fun of for something they wore or food they have for snack time. When these situations happen to my daughters, I follow a simple formula.
I stay calm and as neutral-sounding as possible. I ask her to tell me more about how it felt and any thoughts she might have. I give her love and affection and say I’m sorry you went through that, or some other words of validation. I do not say anything critical about the child or children involved, and in fact, I hardly mention them at all for the remainder of the conversation, if possible.
After all, we can only control our own responses to the world around us. I begin to teach my child to view the experience as a way to find value in ourselves and opportunities for something new and perhaps better!
For example, suppose she is not included in play. In that case, I encourage her to view this as an opportunity to meet someone who might be interested in the type of activities that she finds interesting. In other words, maybe you won’t fit in with one group, but you’ll fit in with another. If it is related to something she brought in for food or clothing, we discuss the importance of not changing who we are or what we like to fit others’ opinions.
Books and stories from the LGBTQIA+ community represent these lessons in simple and beautifully empathetic ways. I was able to use a story about a boy who liked to wear sparkles to school and had many friends who liked to wear a certain color or style of shoe, and even though they were different, they were also the same.
Drag Queen Story Hour, which can be found in your communities or on streaming or podcast apps, are stories about being true to yourself, the importance of self-acceptance, accepting others for who they are, and respecting our differences.
I’m sure many parents might hesitate out of fear or being unable to answer questions that might arise, but perhaps listening to some of these stories on your own might help you get more comfortable with this important resource. If you listen to a story or check out a library book on this topic, I am confident that you will be impressed and comforted by the eloquent yet simple ways these stories address these topics.