These Teens Released Children's Books About LGBTQ+ Inclusivity Just in Time For Pride

These Teens Released Children's Books About LGBTQ+ Inclusivity Just in Time For Pride

June marks the beginning of Pride month, which is celebrated annually to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots and commemorate the accomplishments and visibility of the LGBTQ+ community. Although this month is full of parades, performances and events, it's also a time where people may be making new discoveries about themselves and coming out to their loved ones.

Whether someone is coming to terms with their sexuality or gender expression and identity, it can be a confusing time to figure out who they are and how to explain it. It's okay to not have the answers right away, but thanks to tons of online resources and people within the LGBTQ+ community who have shared their own experiences, there's more information on the process of coming out. The national youth-led movement known as The GenderCool Project shines a light on positive and powerful stories about who transgender and genderqueer kids are rather than how they identify.

Over the years, these kids and teens — often referred to as champions — have traveled across the country to speak to corporations and the media regarding LGBTQ+ equality issues. Now, they've teamed up with A Kids Book About to create a collection of books to help bring clarity about inclusivity and to share positive stories about being transgender and non-binary.

"The GenderCool Project will be our first-ever non-profit partner on a themed collection; we felt it was critical to help bring these topics to kids everywhere in a relevant and honest way," said Jelani Memory, co-founder and CEO of A Kids Book About. "Our unique publishing model and writing process will elevate the underrepresented voices of transgender and non-binary teens with real, lived experiences, to spark productive and positive conversations around this topic a priority for kids and grownups everywhere."

There are three books available in the GenderCool collection:

Founded in 2019, A Kids Book About is a company that publishes books to help parents start conversations with their kids about complex topics like divorce, feminism and mental health. Jelani Memory wrote "A Kids Book About Racism" as the first book in the series to define racism in simple, straightforward language and "punchily designed" pages.

Like other stories that A Kids Book About has published, the GenderCool collection aims to open conversations about topics that are complex and important — especially during a time when there has been harmful legislation targeting transgender and non-binary youth.

Each book was written by GenderCool champions who are non-binary or transgender. According to Jelani, the books' first drafts were each written in one 5-hour sitting since the champions collaborated with a diverse group of people. He said that each group included people who didn't know about the topic to inspire questions children might ask, as well as those who have knowledge about it.

Seventeen-year-old Gia Parr wrote "A Kids Book About Being Transgender" with her personal experience in mind. She told Seventeen that she was afraid of the negative information she found online about being transgender, but YouTube was a safe space for her to explore who she is.

"I got to look up transgender YouTubers like Gigi Gorgeous and Jazz Jennings. They were my first experience seeing trans people as their authentic selves," she said. "I think they inspired me because they taught me what the word transgender was and helped me realize that it wasn't all bad."

Photo credit: Courtesy of GenderCool
Photo credit: Courtesy of GenderCool

Gia first joined GenderCool as an extracurricular activity and expressed that she's proud to contribute to such an important project as it shapes the learning experience for future generations.

"Going back to when I was younger, the thing I was looking for was that education piece and wanting to learn about what it means to be transgender, just to learn about different groups of people," Gia said. "What I'm really trying to do is use my story to be able to educate others, especially kids. To be able to help that one kid in the classroom who's wondering 'Why am I like this?' or 'What is wrong with me?' means so much 'cause there's nothing wrong with them. Being able to educate them by saying, 'No, there's nothing wrong with you. You're beautiful how you are,' and writing a book about that is so amazing."

Like Gia, 15-year-old Hunter Chinn-Raicht used their own experience about being non-binary to write a book for the partnership. They discovered that they were non-binary from a young age and started using they/them pronouns when they were in seventh grade.

"I want to be there for anyone that needs my advice or assistance, but the thought that there's a book with the language that, if I had heard it, I would have understood at such a young age is unbelievable," Hunter told Seventeen. "If a parent got their child this book, I just want to hug them because it's such a good conversation starter. Kids understand things without having those limits that adult brains do so if you just tell them, they're like, 'Oh, okay, cool. That's a new concept that I completely understand in my brain.' If we can do that more, there can be so much more acceptance and conversations about [queer] people and what we need."

Photo credit: Courtesy of GenderCool
Photo credit: Courtesy of GenderCool

Jelani Memory echoed a similar sentiment to the champions and said that it means everything to him that parents, teachers and therapists are pulling these books to start meaningful conversations that matter.

"To be a part of providing something to represent the underrepresented, to make it not something that's clinical or hyper-educational, but to make it sort of grounded and straightforward and beautiful — it's a privilege to be part of this storytelling entity and to hear the stories that come back, which are tremendous and incredible," Jelani said.

A Kids Book About's GenderCool collection is available for purchase now. To find out more information about The GenderCool Project, visit their official website.

For all things celebrating LGBTQ+ culture, follow Seventeen's inclusive platform, HERE, on Instagram.

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