Book Reviews / Other, 27 Feb 24
Review by Fiona McDiarmid, Secondary school teacher and mum to a 3 year old
Raising LGBTQ Allies: A parent's guide to changing the messages from the playground
Tompkins, C. (2021). Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham
Tompkins walks parents through the many ways they can prevent new generations from adopting homophobic and transphobic beliefs, and to explore their own biases..

This book is primarily aimed at parents but is also useful for teachers or those who work with young people. 

Chris’s main aim is to break down and reshape the spaces our tamariki  live in to make them inclusive for all. He talks about the need to ultimately move beyond just acceptance to a place of celebration for all our children whatever gender or sexual orientation they are. This is a powerful idea which can help shift us from the deficit thinking we too often see. 

The book is broken into 3 sections: awareness, willingness, and change. I found the chapters on language (awareness) the most useful on a practical level. It may seem simple but so much of what we say is heteronormative and therefore damaging to anyone who doesn’t see themselves reflected in what we are saying. Just as we have worked hard to remove sexist or racist language, we also need to be mindful of how we talk about being LGBTQ+. I know there are definitely some tweaks I can make. 

A lot of this book addresses the specific American landscape; in particular the way the church and State vs Federal intricacies impact on how LGBTQ+ is addressed and discussed (or not discussed) but there are still some useful ideas that can be transferred to a NZ context. Chris has included some specific activities that I can see working well in a secondary school space in chapter 10  ‘New Toys’ (part of the change section).  

While some of the spiritual aspects of this book didn’t resonate for me, I did find enough practical ideas to make it a worthwhile read. I’d recommend it as a starting point for further exploration of these matters. Chris has included an extensive bibliography of sources, some of which I’ll add to a reading wishlist for when I have time and capacity. 

Disclaimer: Please note these reviews are not intended as endorsements or recommendations from the Mental Health Foundation. This feature introduces resources that may be useful for individuals with an interest in bullying prevention, mental health and wellbeing topics.

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