by James Dawson
Available June 2015
This Book Is Gay is aimed at the YA audience and questioning teens but it should be required reading in high school--and not just in sex education classes. Dawson addresses the obvious: the definitions of gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, straight and asexual. Perhaps because he identifies as a gay man, he spends more of his time discussing the male homosexual and much less time on the female homosexual. He briefly mentions asexual persons.
Reading more like a memoir or a personal diary, This Book Is Gay is an enjoyable read. Using actual quotes from people he interviewed helps the reader identify with these persons as having a story and being human--not just being identified solely for their sexual orientation.
I am overjoyed Dawson addresses the fact that kids always say, "Oh, that's so gay!" meaning something derogatory. As an educator I've heard all kinds of labels used in a derogatory way and used to bully others. Kids are killing themselves because they are afraid to go to school. Kids are cutting themselves or hurting themselves in other ways. The homophobia has to stop. And adults who see it must step in and address it. Dawson offers a "QUIFF" system. When you hear homophobic language, think "QUIFF." These are the terms he uses:
Q-Question it. Ask, 'What do you mean by that?"
U-Understanding-Say, "Do you know what gay actually means?"
I-Institution-Say, "This school is a tolerant place; you can't say that"
F-Feel, State how it makes you feel. "I consider that offensive and homophobic"
F-Funny, make a funny comment.
and he cautions, do not to stand up to someone when it's obvious they are on a rampage. Keep your safety in mind first.
Lively, comic illustrations by Spike Gerrell lighten the mood and text. Many of those people interviewed said they wished they had had a book like this one when they were in their tweens/ teens. Did you know 21% of people question their sexuality or gender between the ages of 6-10, and 57% do so ages 11-15?
The book also contains a chapter for parents of a teen who has come out and a list of helpful contact sites, URLs and phone numbers--not to mention a glossary of terms used in the text. One thing U.S. teens may embrace is the fact that so many British terms are used. Anglophiles will be pleased to learn some new terms to pepper their Twitter feeds with.
Highly Recommended for grade 9-up. Mature subject matter, facts about sex, gender issues, body image. Someone really needs to write a similar book for grades 6-8.
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.
This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)