by Tina Fakhrid-Deen
Seal Press, 2010
Review by Elin Weiss on Sep 13th 2011
Let's Get This Straight: The Ultimate Handbook for Youth with LGBTQ Parents by Tina Fakhrid-Deen is a book focused on supporting, helping and empowering children whose parents identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or/and queer (abbreviated LGBTQ).
Fakhrid-Deen first of all sets out to explain that LGBTQ families do exist and are just as important and valuable as heterosexual and non-queer families are. LGBTQ families need respect, love, and support, just as any other family would.
In Let's Get This Straight Fakhrid-Deen opens up a dialogue that focuses on the children of LGBTQ families. Some of these children identify as LGBTQ themselves but many of them do not. The handbook provides information to these children and begins with a much needed list of definitions concerning words common to LGBTQ issues.
Fakhrid-Deen focuses heavily on the wellbeing of children in LGBTQ families and emphasizes how teasing, ignorance, fear, hostility, homophobia, and hatred from the wider community can impact children in LGBTQ families. She also discusses challenges and injustice that result simply from being a child with sexual minority parents. These struggles concern overall life, school, religion, and basically all social interactions.
What the author emphasizes throughout the book is the fact that there is no single model concerning LGBTQ families and there is no single struggle that these families face. In order to fully explain this diversity Fakhrid-Deen discusses many different family structures. One example can be an adopted African-American child with two white gay parents. A second example could be a single lesbian mother with two children born through insemination. A third example might concern a heterosexual family in which the mother or father identifies as transgender. To this diverse mix we can add a stepfamily in which one or more of the children themselves identify as LGBTQ or in which the adults/parents identify as LGBTQ.
What the author does best is to emphasize this diversity throughout each chapter. Fakhrid-Deen never loses sight of the challenges facing these diverse families and she provides thoughtful and important information without placing judgment. What she also emphasizes is the notion that all emotions are valid and important. She states that it is normal and common to feel loss, sadness, embarrassment, and so on when one or both parents "come out". The best practice, according to the author, is to always communicate these feelings to the parent/parents or to a wider support system.
What is very impressive about the book is how is creates an understanding of LGBTQ families and their struggles. While many books and articles focus on children or adults that identify as LGBTQ, this book speaks almost solely about children in LGBTQ families. The book will undoubtedly increase the readers understanding and acceptance of the diversity facing these families while it invokes feelings of empathy.
There are very few shortcomings about this book as a whole. One thing that would perhaps be considered by the author is her use of simple and understandable language. This book is aimed at youths and at times the reading is slightly complicated for the ages that it targets. Especially so in the beginning of the first chapter where the language might be a bit complicated. The book does, however, become easier to understand as the author goes on into the second chapter. It would also be very interesting to hear more about race together with a sexual minority status and the struggles facing biracial LGBTQ families. These topics are mentioned by Fakhrid-Deen but could ideally be extended upon.
Let's Get This Straight is aimed at children and youth belonging to sexual-minority families, but is in no way exclusive to this group. The book makes for an interesting and eye-opening reading to any reader who wishes to better understand the LGBTQ community, families, and family diversity. Despite this book being an easy read, it is also very educational, and would be useful in educational setting both at middle school, high-school, or even at college level.
© 2011 Elin Weiss
Elin Weiss has a Bachelor's Degree in psychology from University College Dublin, Ireland, and is currently finishing her Master's Degree in women's studies at the same university.