Have you ever felt out of place? Perhaps in high school you walked into a party that your usual friends didn't attend like they said they would and you instantly wanted to run away and hide. Maybe you've walked into an office for an interview that had a completely different vibe from the last place you worked (can everyone stop staring at me already?!). These instances, although they make you want to put a bag over your head and crawl into a hole, only last for a brief amount of time and then are forgotten. What if you had this feeling for your entire life? What if you felt out of place in your own body?
When Kayla Was Kyle, as the title suggests, is a story about a young boy who felt like a girl inside. He is teased by his classmates, he is depressed, and his father just can't understand why he doesn't want to stick with playing basketball.
Unfortunately, this is a reality for many young people. Over the last few decades, LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) support and education has increased, but society is still not at the point that it needs to be. From the book's website, www.WhenKaylaWasKyle.com , 91% of LGBTQ students felt deliberately excluded or "left out" by peers, 86% had mean rumors or lies told about them, 64% were sexually harassed, and 57% experienced "cyber-bullying". Studies of LGBTQ youths indicate that between 48% and 76% have thought of suicide, and between 29% and 42% have actually attempted suicide.
The author, Amy Fabrikant, is a writer, literacy coach, and LGBTQ safe school consultant in New Jersey. She has worked with kids in schools for over 30 years and is the author of parenting and school based advocacy articles. With this book, she has taken a huge step in starting to educate children about gender diversity early, and helping them to understand that everyone should be accepted as they are and to do what makes you happy.
What can you do to help?
If this book isn't already in your town's public library or in your child's school's library, it should be. Contact your local libraries and request that they have this book available.
You can also talk to your children very early on about gender diversity and teach them to be accepting. If your own child is having these feelings, assure them that you love them no matter what and you accept them.
You can visit www.WhenKaylaWasKyle.com to purchase the book –it's only $8.05, and proceeds from the sale of the book go to Trans Youth Family Allies. You can also learn more about how the book supports social action and anti-bullying curriculums in K-8 classrooms, and suggest your child's school for these programs.
Written by Dana Drahos, Garden State Woman intern