A Parent’s Guide to LGBTQ+ and Your Teen (Tyndale House Publishers, 2023)
When this book fell through my letterbox, I was a bit disappointed at how small it is. (It’s tiny – just 100 pages and only slightly bigger than my phone.) As I started to read, I admit, I had low expectations. But when I closed the book not long later (again, it’s tiny), I thought to myself ‘I want to put a copy of this book into the hands of every parent, youth leader and church leader!’ It may be small, but this book is a goldmine of wisdom and understanding.
It may be small, but this book is a goldmine of wisdom and understanding.
This parent’s guide is from the team at Axis, a group who create resources ‘to help connect parents, teens, and Jesus in a disconnected world’ (p.viii). Through the book, parents are given a quick-fire introduction to things they need to know and need to think through in order to have good conversations about LGBTQ+ related matters with their teenagers. Think of it as a quick briefing to give parents the key info they need to have better conversations with their teenagers.
The first section of the book provides some understanding of the world in which young people are living. The chapter ‘What terms do I need to know?’ offers a fairly extensive glossary that will be hugely helpful to parents and others who feel they struggle to keep up with the language being used in relation to LGBTQ+. Other chapters introduce common perspectives held by teenagers and the values and influences that shape those perspectives.
The second half of the book considers the response of the Church and Christian parents. There is refreshing honesty about the ways in which the Church has responded badly to LGBTQ+ matters and a chapter on how the Church can respond well.
For me, the highlight of the book was the chapter ‘What are some practical things I can do?’. The authors offer 10 pieces of excellent practical advice, including ‘Don’t panic – play the long game’, ‘Watch your language’ and ‘Don’t avoid talking to your kids about LGBTQ+ issues’. These are top tips that every parent – and every person engaging with teenagers – will benefit from taking on board.
The book assumes a traditional Christian perspective on sexuality, although it doesn’t outline or defend this in any detail. This isn’t to be read as a criticism: the guide distils for parents some key insights and understanding that isn’t often discussed. There are many other good resources that can be used to fill in the blanks about the biblical teaching on sexuality (e.g. Ed Shaw’s Purposeful Sexuality and Preston Sprinkle’s People to be Loved). Throughout, the book is biblically faithful, culturally engaged, and people centred.
The book’s length is a limiting factor. The contents are expressed with admirable brevity, although a risk of brevity is always that it hinders retention. For those new to the topic, I’d recommend giving the book a couple of read-throughs, just to help you pick up everything that’s said. And don’t worry, that still won’t take you very long!
There are a couple of small points where I might have taken a slightly different perspective to that put forward by the authors, but none of them are significant enough to warrant any major critique.
This is an excellent resource for parents, teachers, youth leaders, church leaders and anyone else who engages with teenagers. It’s clear, concise, and compassionate. And even better, you can read the entire text for free at the Axis website.