Feminist Conversations is a regular series here at Feminists For Choice. Today we are talking with author and activist Tina Fakhrid-Deen. Tina is the founder of the Chicago chapter of COLAGE (for people with a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer parent) and the author of Let’s Get This Straight: The Ultimate Handbook for Youth with LGBTQ Parents. You can read more about Tina on her blog.
1. What was the motivation behind writing Let’s Get This Straight?
I was raised by a lesbian mother and heterosexual father, so the topic has personal relevance in my life. As an adult, I volunteered for a social justice organization, COLAGE, that provides community for youth and adults with at least one LGBTQ parent. This was the impetus for my writing Let’s Get This Straight with the support of COLAGE.
2. Your book really shines light on the fact that there are plenty of different family structures, especially so with LGBTQ families. Could you give our readers a few examples?
Some of the less recognized family structures are single parent households, transgender parented families, blended families, transracial families, families via donor insemination, families with multiple mothers and fathers (i.e. three dads), and families of divorce.
3. What are some of the advice you give to children of LGBTQ parents or to LGBTQ families?
It depends on the situation, but in general, I suggest creating a safe, supportive community in terms of places of spiritual worship, school, youth programs, neighborhoods, and within the family. Develop adult and youth allies – people that you can reach out to for support if challenges, questions, or ideas for change arise. I also suggest becoming visible advocates/educators within the community and being proud of who you are and the diversity you bring to society. Ultimately, use your voice, it is a powerful one and always push towards positive change.
4. You have mentioned that children in LGBTQ families are often teased because of their parent’s identities. Do you believe the stereotypical view of what a family should look like is detrimental to the well-being of LGBTQ families?
I think that with younger middle school children, it is probably the most stressful and problematic and that is why they need adult supports and school communities that are supportive and accepting of all families. Also, I do not think that the stereotypical view of what a family should look like is the problem. Kids with single parents or grandparents leading the households aren’t teased for that necessarily. The problem that is detrimental is homophobia and acceptance/tolerance of it in schools, the media, in athletics, places of worship, communities, etc. When we rid society of homophobia and heterosexism, we solve much of the problem. However, it will not solve bullying. We have to have more strategies, education, alliances, and commitment to conquer that beast.
5. In regards to reproductive rights and family rights, what would you like to see for LGBTQ families in the future?
Hopefully, our families will have the same rights as other families. We are not asking for special treatment. We want equality, fairness, and respect under protection of the law just as every other U.S. citizen does.