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5 Must-read Books for Parents of LGBTQ+ Youth

LGBTQ+ Experience
June 06, 20225 min read

“Depending on your degree of shock, you may be seeking support, educational materials, crisis hotlines, or all of the above. Take a moment right now to take a deep breath and know that you are not alone.” - Heather Hester

5 Must-read Books for Parents of LGBTQ+ Youth

Has your child just come out to you as gay (or lesbian or bisexual or transgender or non-binary or queer)? We know just Parents of LGBTQ know and feel that moments, Regardless of whether they are 13 or 30, they are likely searching for information. Depending on your degree of shock, you may be seeking support, educational materials, crisis hotlines, or all of the above. Take a moment right now to take a deep breath and know that you are not alone.

So books are definitely my go-to resource and even after five-plus years on our journey and there are a few that I reference over and over again.

#1 Mom, I’m Gay

by Susan Cottrell

When Connor first came out to us I was terrified he was going to hell having been brought up in a conservative Christian home. I needed answers to that question first before I tackled anything else, and Susan Cottrell’s “Mom, I’m Gay” literally saved me. It’s a very tough time for gay moms.

Susan is so relatable. Because she shares the story of her daughter coming out and ultimately being asked to make a decision between her church and her daughter (spoiler alert, she chose her daughter!). Her gentle yet clear guidance transitions beautifully to a straightforward study and explanation of the “clobber verses.” Be forewarned that this is eye-opening and may inspire further research (it did for me!). So it will help you move forward on your journey with relief knowing, no, your child is not going to hell.

So this is a must-read for anyone who has religious concerns. Fair warning, it may have you rethinking your spirituality…in the best way possible!

book for parents of gay kids

#2 This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids

Dannielle Owens Reid & Kristin Russo

This was the second Book for Parents of LGBTQ. I read it when Connor first came out, and it is still at the top of my list of recommended reading on the subject.

It is a perfect primer and does a lovely job of prepping the reader for the next level of information coming their way. It is in a question-and-answer format so you can skip around to find answers to your most pressing questions first. And then circle back to the rest of the awesome information.

Remember, it may not be a question now, but if it’s in this book. I promise it will be a question at some point! Reid and Russon do a phenomenal job of educating parents during those first few months.

how to they them

#3 How to They/Them

Stuart Getty

How to They/Them is a more recent find. The saying “the only constant is change” applies to language too.

Language evolves, and this little gem helps us understand nonbinary pronouns. The world of gender fluidity is something those of us who are GenX and older seem to struggle with.

Even better? It’s a visual guide! I invite you to grab this handy reference and go through it more than once. I had several “a-ha” moments as I read it! Knowing how to use pronouns respectfully. And knowing how to ask confirmation or clarification questions along the way – is such an incredible tool for any parent and/or ally. You will get the things to read Books for Parents of LGBTQ.

#4 Raising LGBTQ Allies

Chris Tompkins

I had the honor of interviewing Chris Tompkins on my podcast just days after finishing his book  and all I can say is, wow! 

His book, Raising LGBTQ Allies, is #4 on my must-read list with a subtitle of “A Parent’s Guide to Changing the Messages from the Playground.” Broken into three parts - Awareness, Willingness, Change - Chris weaves his story and valuable lessons in an engaging and educational way. He answers important questions like “how do we talk to our kids?’ and “please help me understand the language!” Most importantly he shares hope. 

This one of those books that you will go back to again and again to reference. My copy is tabbed and highlighted with notes written throughout! 

raising my rainbow book

#5 Raising My Rainbow – Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son

Lori Duron

I came across this book while gathering research for my own book and loved it for so many reasons. Because of Author Lori Duron isn’t kidding about “adventures” – in addition to laughing and crying as I read, I learned so much!

I love this book for anyone who is raising a gender-creative child. It is a beautiful testament to guiding the passions and interests of your child in a very supportive, nurturing way AND the very definition of unconditional love.

BONUS - The Language of LGBTQIA+

Heather Hester

I had to add my newly published e-book, The Language of LGBTQIA+. To my knowledge, this is the most complete collection of definitions, explanations of how to use words and phrases, and the “why” of words and phrases that should NEVER be used. 

In additional to being comprehensive, it is engaging and direct, lending it to be a favorite resource!

Check it out HERE!

Interested in more book suggestions or other helpful resources?

Head on over to my website and browse through my extensive list. I am constantly adding to and refreshing it so it is also valuable as a bookmark for support.

Must Read BooksResourcesBooks to Read LGBTQIA+ Teens and Young AdultsPridesupport LGBTQIA+ Gender Inclusivity

Heather Hester

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What people are saying...

LOVE THIS PODCAST!! 🙌🏼🌈

I was searching for resources to be the best supportive mom I could be to my pre-teen (now teen) and found this amazing podcast! It was just what I needed! I knew I needed some guidance from a parent who had experience through a similar journey and Heather was there with perfect content and even talked with me personally through email. The community Heather has built through this podcast and Facebook page has given me the confidence to not be fearful through this journey but rather to embrace it and encourage my teen to be their authentic self!

~ Lauren Bo21, Apple Podcast

I have loved and admired you and your family for over 30 years now. But the honor I have always felt to call you a friend truly quadrupled yesterday after listening to your podcasts. Every word was true and authentic, and real, and beautiful-even those that made me cry to the point where I had to pause for a bit before continuing.

I know the last few years have been pure hell. Yet somehow you, Steve, and your kids somehow managed to navigate it with grace, dignity, love, vulnerability, and acceptance. I am in awe of each of you...you are showing the world how beautiful life can be if we find a way to embrace it and breathe. Thanks to all of you for sharing your story and resources-it WILL make a difference for so many others.

~ S. Geidner

When I was Connor's age, I don't think Ellen DeGeneres was out yet. The world has changed so much since that time. I'm glad I'm alive to see it. I find myself cheering on parents like Heather who are willing to step out of their own comfort zone and reputations to stand by LGBTQ children and love us - out loud! This is such an important show [the podcast]. BIG LOVE for this courageous family in the Midwest! Yay YOU!

~ J. SluMac

Powerful, profound, so needed... What a breath of fresh air this show [the podcast] is. So many LGBTQ people, especially youth, struggle with the devastating impact of faith-based family rejection. Parents are searching for a better way. A way to love their LGBTQ child without compromising their faith. It takes opening what box you have God in - thank you for helping people do that! What a gift this podcast is!

~ R. Cottrell

I love your raw, real vulnerability. I am brand new on this journey and stumbled accidentally across your podcast on a road trip. I listened for 8 hours of driving and didn’t want to get to my destination because I wanted more. Using your own journey to help and support other parents is so brave and I am grateful to you and your family. Connor is so fortunate to have you ❤️

~ Anonymous

Your centered, calming voice and demeanor help me to feel more peaceful. I experience you as therapeutic & your journey gives me more hope that we can love [our son] well. Thank you for giving your life away to me through sharing your story and the guests you interview.

~ Anonymous

This podcast will help you feel safe - calm and loving

This podcast is truly something everyone needs in the coming out journey. Listen in for a reassuring dose of Heather's loving expertise!

~ CandyMot, Apple Podcasts

This podcast was unbelievably helpful. The frank discussion and honesty -completely helped me begin my journey with my son and I have shared this podcast with everyone in our family Truly look forward to more episodes.

~ Blueflip via Podchaser

Amazing!!! This is so incredibly well done and your thoughtful approach is undoubtedly helping tons of families. What you’re doing truly matters! Your son is lucky to have you and vice versa ;)! Thank you for sharing w us!

~ NickPe13, Apple Podcasts

Helped so much!! I have learned so much and feel so much less alone after listening! Thanks so much!!

~ TSwynacht, Apple Podcasts

Must-Listen! This podcast is a must-listen for those wanting to learn how to best help the LGBTQ teen or young adult in their life. Heather is a thoughtful host who offers great information and support. Such a great podcast with great information!

~ DrMMcNally, Apple Podcasts

Thank you. Exactly what this momma needed.

~ zbkai189, Apple Podcasts

Right on ... so needed. Heather is real, relatable, thoughtful, educated, and inclusive of every teen parent scenario in her talks. I love being able to hear first hand from someone who has gone through the “Valley of Darkness” and come out the other side a better person, informed, and able to help others right where they are.

~ MrsWeiselNMS, Apple Podcast

Eager to get into this. Thank you for clarifying that it's not just for parents. I think anyone involved in raising a child even if that's just part of an extended support community should have access to these resources.

~ Cameron Jones, Castbox

Attn Parents! Listen, absorb, learn, and breathe thru this podcast. So helpful us (child and parents) as we go thru this journey together.

~ Mom or them!, Apple Podcasts

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