Yoni Kollin speaks at LGBTQ+ Teen Panel EventOur second child is five years old and embodies all things sparkly pink and purple. This kid is very unconstrained by traditional gender expressions; he does ballet, loves his dresses and also loves Lego building and computer games. Despite his delicious and colorful enthusiasm, he struggles very, very much with the fear of people laughing at him.

We’ve just been “going with it,” but certainly have had lots of unresolved questions that were popping up - especially worrying about how to prepare our child for the responses of people who don’t (yet) “get it.” 

Then my family received an unexpected gift when we attended a panel at our temple arranged by one of our congregants and two speakers from the JQ Speakers Bureau. There, we were so thankful to hear Yoni (a gender-non-conforming teen) speak with such honesty about their relationship with their dad. Hearing about Yoni’s dad’s response to their non-binary identity helped us to think about how our own child might feel, too. 

Since hearing Yoni, we have shifted away from thinking about “phases” and thinking perhaps our child “needed guidance” to understand how to better fit in.Panelists from JQ's Parent & Ally Panel in May 2019 Now, we’ve grown to see what is actually in front of us – just a kid who is being his own person.

He’s so little and his identity is very much still unfolding. Nonetheless, the truth is that our child should not stop being who he is simply to avoid other people’s ignorant responses. He needs our help and support in navigating his own experience and coming to a place of self-acceptance and love regardless of what other people have to say about him. We’ve learned that as parents, we can model that unconditional acceptance and love, and be advocates as he learns how to maintain his sense of self-esteem.

We hope our child can one day be comfortable and confident outwardly expressing who he is on the inside – whomever that is! –  like Yoni is able to do. Thank you JQ for making a difference for this little kid, and for our family as we navigate our own path. Whatever lies ahead, it is a true blessing to have resources like those JQ so personally and authentically provides to parents just like us.