John Sovec on Supporting LGBTQIA+ Differently Wired Kids

gender nonconformity kids

Today I’m delighted to be bringing to the show a conversation about supporting LGBTQIA+ kids with John Sovec, a therapist, author of Out: A Parent’s Guide to Supporting Your LGBTQIA+ Kid Through Coming Out and Beyond, and nationally recognized expert on creating affirmative support for LGBTQIA+ teens and their families during the coming out process. I wanted to talk with John because these conversations are becoming increasingly prevalent within our neurodivergent communities. 

During our conversation, John explained what “coming out” means and why it’s such a significant, and ongoing, event for any LGBTQIA+ person. He also shared his thoughts on the high correlation between neurodivergence and gender nonconformity, how parents can best respond when their child comes out to them, why affirmation is more important than acceptance, and why it’s so important that parents’ honor their own process as they navigate understanding their child’s identity


About John Sovec

John Sovec, MA, LMFT is a nationally recognized expert on creating affirmative support for LGBTQIA+ teens and their families during the coming out process. He is the author of Out: A Parent’s Guide to Supporting Your LGBTQIA+ Kid Through Coming Out and Beyond (JKP, 2023). John is a frequent contributor to numerous publications on providing LGBTQIA+ support, speaks at conferences nationally, and provides training and professional consultation on LGBTQIA+ competencies for community agencies, schools, and nonprofits. In addition, he consults and trains on the corporate level regarding diversity, equity, and LGBTQIA+ inclusion.

John is the clinical consultant for The Life Group LA, adjunct faculty at Phillips Graduate Institute and guest lecturer at Alliant University, Antioch, Cal State Fullerton, and USC School of Social Work. In December 2019, he was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. He is a nationally recognized expert on creating affirmative support for LGBTQIA+ adolescents with his work featured on ABC, NBC, OWN, FOX, The Advocate, Newsweek, The Washington Post, and columns for Huffington Post, Medium, and Good Therapy. John is the host of OutTalk, a monthly web series for OutCare Health.


Things you’ll learn from this episode

  • Why it’s important that LGBTQIA+ kids have access to therapists and mental health support that is affirming and informed in the community’s specific challenges
  • What “coming out” means in our contemporary society
  • John’s guidance for how parents can respond to their child’s coming out in a way that feels supportive and loving
  • How parents can show up for their LGBTQIA+ kids in an affirming way
  • What parents with LGBTQIA+ kids are most concerned about and how they can navigate their own emotional process


Resources mentioned for neurodivergent LGBTQIA+ kids


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Episode Transcript

Debbie Reber  00:00

Tilt Parenting is proud to partner with Fusion Academy this season. Fusion Academy is the world’s most personalized school with one to one classrooms that match your student’s pace and preferences so they can learn better, dive deeper, and never get left behind. Learn more about the most personalized school in the world and how it’s changed the lives of 10s of 1000s of differently wired students, including mine at

John Sovec  00:25

In any adolescent development style, through those teenage years, that’s when it’s important that kids are finding their own identity of who they are. And parents need to understand, oh, I need to work through my stuff about how I’m feeling about who they’re becoming, whether it’s being LGBTQIA+, or any other aspects of identity that don’t fall in line with that parental vision.

Debbie Reber  00:52

Welcome to Tilt Parenting, a podcast featuring interviews and conversations aimed at inspiring, informing and supporting parents raising differently wired kids. I’m your host Debbie Reber. Today I am delighted to be bringing to the show a conversation about supporting LGBTQIA+ kids. And I have the perfect guest to explore this topic with John Sovec. A therapist, author and nationally recognized expert on creating affirmative support for LGBTQIA+ teens and their families during the coming out process. I wanted to talk with John because these conversations are becoming increasingly prevalent within our neurodivergent communities. During this episode, John explains what coming out means and why it’s such a significant and ongoing event for any LGBTQIA+ person. He also shared his thoughts on the high correlation between neurodivergence and gender nonconformity and how parents can best respond when their child comes out to them. Why affirmation is more important than acceptance, and why it’s so important that parents honor their own process as they navigate understanding their child’s identity. Here’s a little bit more about John before we dive in, John Sovec is the author of Out: A Parent’s guide to supporting your LGBTQIA+ kid through coming out and beyond, which is the book we’re exploring through our conversation today, and is also a frequent contributor to numerous publications providing LGBTQIA+ support. John speaks at conferences nationally, provides training and professional consultation for community agencies, schools and nonprofits and as the host of our talk, a monthly web series for Out Care Health. In December 2019, he was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. Before I get to today’s episode, if you’re ready to dive deeper with me and seriously uplevel your parenting progress, I invite you to check out the differently wired club, think virtual office hours, coaching calls, expert guests monthly themes, connection with other parents like you and much more. I opened up the doors to the club for a few days at the end of every month. So coming up soon. Curious to know more? Visit for all the details. And now here is my conversation with John.

Debbie Reber  03:16

Hello, John, welcome to the podcast.

John Sovec  03:18

Thank you. I’m so excited to chat with you all today.

Debbie Reber  03:21

Yes, me too. I’m excited to get into your new book called “Out” we’re gonna dive into that. But could you kind of set us up? So I’ve already read your formal bio. So we know your credentials and where you’re coming at this from but could you tell us a little bit more about your personal why and doing the work that you do in the world?

John Sovec  03:39

You know, it’s really fascinating because my personal why showed up when I was in grad school, as an openly queer person, and now an openly queer therapist. I noticed in my schooling that there was very little talk about the journey of LGBTQ people in the world of psychology, and almost none about the needs of kids and adolescents. And so as I started hearing that I realized, this is a place that is really important to me, I had a very smooth, beautiful, powerful coming out process when I was younger, and yet I still could have used a therapist who understood my needs. And so I started working really hard on that I started getting more education, not just for LGBTQ, but also adolescent care in general. And it started developing and become my sweet spot. And it’s just a place where when I sit down with teenagers, it’s always fascinating for me, because parents always come and say, like, Oh, my kid won’t talk. They won’t talk. And I start the interview with like parents in the room that I asked the parents to leave and then the kids sit down and they’re like yak, yak, yak, yak, yak, yak, yak, just like, Yeah, I think I’m doing the right work here.

Debbie Reber  04:47

It has to be so important for a kid to be able to have a relationship with a trusted adult who shares their experience in terms of the landscape for therapists. I mean, I feel like there’s a shortage of therapists full stop for adolescents today. But is there a real need for more therapists who are LGBTQIA? To support those kids?

John Sovec  05:07

Absolutely. I think it’s not just that a person has to be LGBTQ to be an affirming therapist. But I think any therapist who wants to work with our community and parents, I think this is a really important thing for you to ask any new therapist is do you have training and education in the needs of my LGBTQ kid? Because there are lots of therapists out there who are LGBTQ friendly, and they’re gonna say things like, oh, yeah, my uncle, so and so is and my best friend is part of the community. But that’s different than actually sitting down and having the education looking at the developmental processes of LGBTQ kids, which might be a little bit different. And will actually is very different than other adolescence, and really honing in on the skill set that’s needed for that kind of support.

Debbie Reber  05:55

Yeah, and as you’re saying that I’m thinking too, that’s something that comes up just in the neurodivergence space, that there are so many therapists who work with neurodivergent kids who don’t have an understanding of all the nuances of how our kids are wired. And so I could see how that training and education would be so important. I would love if you could, because it seems like your book is your way of sharing what you’ve learned over the years. And what we as families, if we have kids who are navigating this journey, need to know so can you tell us just a little bit about your why for writing the book, what was your big picture mission?

John Sovec  06:33

Yeah, and I think for me, it really connects to that mission I just talked about, about why I work with, with queer youth and their families. Almost everything in the book is a question that’s come up either from a family member from a parent or in parts of the journeys of kids themselves about what it’s like to come out in the world today. And so it just felt like my honor to carry that information out into the world. Ultimately, the point of this book is for any parent who has a kid who’s coming out or hesitated or they suspect may be coming out to them. And they wake up at two in the morning with all those anxieties and fears about their kids’ development and safety in the world to be able to reach, to open this book, and have a calming, kind informed voice, tell them it’s gonna be okay. In fact, it’s gonna be more than okay, it’s gonna be amazing.

Debbie Reber  07:24

That’s great. The book is called Out and the subtitle is A Parent’s Guide to Supporting Your LGBTQIA+ Kid Through Coming Out and Beyond. And I always like to break things down because I don’t want to assume that all of my listeners know what LGBTQIA+ stands for, you actually break it down really nicely in the book, that acronym, could you just tell us what those letters mean?

John Sovec  07:47

Okay, so you’re gonna have to help me out here. So L would be for person who defines themselves as lesbian. G is for gay, be as bisexual T is transgender. LGBTQ Q can be queer or questioning, I wouldn’t be intersex and A for me is can be asexual, it can also be ally, which I always suggest for any parents who’s picking up this book, you are already on that journey to becoming an ally, not just to your kid, but to the community as a whole.

Debbie Reber  08:18

Yeah, I hadn’t ever heard of the allies being part of the A, but I loved that. And then I can just assume that the plus means we don’t know what else exists, I feel like we keep adding letters because we’re becoming more nuanced, or they’re super understanding of different ways of experiencing the world. Is that plus kind of leaving the door open?

John Sovec  08:37

The plus is leaving the door open. And also in the book itself, there are other communities which are going to be defined as well, two things like pansexuality, asexuality, aromanticism. So that’s where the plus slips into play. But for me, the one way I love to describe the the plus and the amazingness of what’s happening in my community is, you know, in your like, you’re using Word and you’re writing a document, and you’re like, oh, I want to highlight that make that little bit of text a different color. So you go and you choose it, you hit text. And then at the bottom, there’s thing that says more colors. And when you open up that more colors thing, there’s that big, beautiful wheel that has all those hues and colors in it. And if you took that and spun it into a sphere, that to me, describes this amazing journey that we’re moving into, and we’re exploring sexual orientation and gender identity.

Debbie Reber  09:28

We know what this idea of coming out is. And so I’d love to know from your experience growing up if someone came out it was this huge thing. And it was a rare thing back in the 90s. It was kind of a big deal if you knew someone who came out and how they did that and how it was received. And so I’m wondering what it’s like for kids today. Have we reached a point where coming out isn’t necessary in the same way? Do people come out if they are on a gender journey as well just kind of break down this concept of coming out for us in our contemporary society.

John Sovec  10:01

And I want to get even a little bit more granular with you because I think this is really important for parents to understand. So as a gay kid, I realized at a very young age that there was a different way that I moved through the world, there are different attractions I’m having. I didn’t know what they meant, but I had those feelings inside of me. And when I looked up at my parents, what I saw was a cisgender heterosexual marriage. So my minority status was not recognized in my family unit. And so we’re coming out. I think all parents need to understand that even if you are the most affirming parents out there and understand and have really done your work, it can feel like a very isolating experience for kids. Because what we have to do is go inside of ourselves, and really examine how we’re going to interact with our world, whether it statements about our sexual orientation, or gender identity, we go through this internal process, and that the thing that I think people really need to understand about this coming out process is it’s not just a declaration of my sexual orientation, or gender identity, it’s an examination of almost all facets of who I am going to be going forward in the world. The other thing that I think every parent needs to understand about the coming out process is it is a lifelong process.

Debbie Reber  11:23

So you will have a chapter in the book that’s called Coming Out. And in that chapter, you say, the most supportive and powerful reaction you can have to your child coming out is to simply hug them tight. And let them know that you love them. Can you say more about why that is the reaction that we want to give to our kids?

John Sovec  11:43

Well, if you think about it, in this moment of coming out to you, as a parent, this is the most anxiety producing moment that any LGBTQ kid is going to go through. Once again, even in a household that they know it’s going to be an affirmed identity. There’s still all this anxiety, their heart is beating really fast, their palms are sweating, their body temperature is up. And the biggest thing for almost every kid in that moment is a fear that somehow they are going to be rejected by you or the family. And that fear is very real, no matter how affirming an environment you have set up. So this idea of just bringing them in, and using the words I love … You say hold them tight. That physical physical connection creates that bond in that moment, it helps relieve the anxiety. And these are words of affirmation. I love you, I love you. I love you are so simple, and yet so clear. And you as a parent may be going through your own emotional turmoil in that moment. That is less important than creating this initial bond of love with your kid. And I repeat it throughout the book, every moment you have, hold that kid tight and let them know that you love them for exactly who they are.

Debbie Reber  13:00

I love that answer. Because it’s simple, it’s doable, and it’s something that any parent can proactively prepare for. Because as much as we think we know our kids, we don’t know what’s going on in their inner worlds, especially maybe as they get older and they become more private and are sharing more with their friends. And so just having that in your back pocket, probably prevents a lot of those kind of deer in headlights moments. And also just letting parents know that they don’t have to say all the things and respond in this perfect way, letting them off the hook seems like a gift.

John Sovec  13:34

Well, the thing is, for me, this is the perfect way. And that’s why I keep mentioning it over and over and over again. Because if that’s your foundation for any future conversations about their LGBTQ identity, what a great foundation to have as a parent, you can always lean back in that because there are going to be moments during this journey as a parent where you are going to be overwhelmed and you’re gonna be confused and your kids going to yell at you for not knowing the correct word of right now. And if you can continue to lean back into I love you, that is always going to be a beautiful place to be building from.

Debbie Reber  14:10

I want to talk more about the process that parents are going through and we’re going to do that when we get back from this quick break.

Debbie Reber  14:17

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Debbie Reber  15:08

So you have a chapter in the book called, You’re Going Through a Process Too, and you say that this is one of the more important concepts that you share in the book. Because what you have found is that most parents of LGBTQIA+ kids want to do right by their kids, but they may end up sacrificing their own well being in their attempt to be perfect parents. So what would you want parents to know if they’re kind of in this right now. And they’re really struggling, they’re in that process, and they’re trying to do it perfectly.

John Sovec  15:39

So here’s the first thing that we’ll do. I invite any parent who’s joining us today to remove the mantle of having to be the perfect parent, there is no such thing. All of us are human beings trying to grow and become better at who we are. And I want to give you as a parent permission to not have to be perfect, really important. The other thing though, and this is a big piece that I talk about in this chapter of the book is, you need to understand that you as a parent are going through a process yourself. I often describe it a little bit as a grieving process. And people get confused by that concept. It’s not that you’re grieving that your kid is coming out for you as a parent. What you’re grieving is that the imagined version of your kid is not the same as they used to be. Oftentimes, when parents like give birth, they looked at their little kid, they look into its eyes, and they’re like, Oh, I’m going to project forward this entire life where you’re gonna be the valedictorian, and captain of the football team or head cheerleader, you’re gonna buy a house with a white picket fence and, and have kids and we’re all gonna live happily ever after. And when your kid comes out, that dream can shatter for a lot of parents. And that’s part of the process, I think parents need to understand. It’s the dream that’s shattering. Now, it doesn’t mean that any of those things can’t come true. But they may happen differently, and to the families that I work with, I encourage the parents to understand you need to give time to move through this and to process those feelings. And I also tell the kids I’m working with, you already figured this out, you’ve been thinking about this, we’ve been chatting about you coming up, this is new for your parents, we need to give them a little space to process what they’re feeling.

Debbie Reber  17:20

Yes, that is such a good reminder. And I literally two hours ago was interviewing two authors about this wonderful book called I Will Die on This HIll. One of the things that the book talks about is how parents raising autistic kids have to also go through this process. But that process of kind of identifying this vision that you had, is a big piece of it. And one of the things that one of the contributors to that book said is that parents are sold a dream, we kind of grow up or have kids with this vision of what this is all going to look like. And it is really important to surrender to our kids’ experience and their real feelings around those. So we don’t need to shame ourselves for having those feelings, just know that it is a process.

John Sovec  18:04

Yeah, and I think that’s a beautiful parallel to bring up. I wish all parents could explore this process because ultimately, every parent projects for their kids life, you know, if you sit down with them, and you sit long enough, ultimately, every parent will admit, yes, I have a vision of who I want my kid to be as they grow up. And in any adolescent development style. Through those teenage years, that’s when it’s important that kids are finding their own identity of who they are. And parents need to understand, oh, I need to work through my stuff about how I’m feeling about who they’re becoming, whether it’s being LGBTQIA+, or any other aspect of identity that doesn’t fall in line with that parental vision.

Debbie Reber  18:47

Yeah, exactly, exactly. So we were talking before I hit record, that we have discussed gender identity on the show a couple of times. And listeners, we did some great episodes with Dr. Laura Anderson, I’ll have links to those in the show notes page, if you want to go back and listen, they’re fantastic. But you talk a lot about gender identity in this book as well. We don’t have to spend a ton of time on this. But I would love to know your experience and what you’ve noticed in the work that you do. It seems that in the last five years or so there’s been just an explosion of adolescents, kids, young adults who are exploring gender who are just getting in tune with their gender identity. So I’m just kind of curious if you’d written this book 10 years ago, would transgender and gender identity be such a big part of it? I’d love to know kind of your bird’s eye view.

John Sovec  19:41

So for me and the work I do absolutely would have been a full part of the book then as well as now. The thing that’s really beautiful and I celebrate this in adolescents, the kids of today, is they are not just accepting this story of gender that they have been handed by their parents and by society. They’re looking at gender, they’re questioning and that they’re exploring how it reflects who they are in the world. And I think that’s incredibly powerful. The other piece of this puzzle that’s so important to understand, too is if we look back historically, there have been representations of gender identity throughout culture and society since the beginning of recorded history. This is not just something, some new flash in the pan that suddenly appeared when social media became big. This is something that’s been part of the fabric of culture for a long time. If we look at Hawaiian culture, Native Hawaiian culture, there’s always been space for a gender between male and female. If you look at the cultures of India, there are five different ideas of gender that have been expressed there first years and years and years. And so when people say, Oh, it’s something new, it’s not something new. What is happening is we’re finding spaces to talk about it more openly, and create spaces for exploration to happen.

Debbie Reber  21:00

Have you noticed in the work that you do that neurodivergent kids are more maybe because of the way that they’re wired. And we know that there is a high, I don’t know if correlation is the technical right word. But we do know that there is a maybe a larger percentage of neurodivergent kids who identify as LGBTQIA+ than neurotypical kids. And so I’m just wondering what you notice about that, or how you make sense of that?

John Sovec  21:30

Well, I think it’s really interesting, because we have this study that just came out last year. And it’s like a five year longitudinal study. And it is looking at this higher correlation between neurodivergent kids and LGBTQI status. I think it’s really fascinating. And we don’t necessarily have an answer for that. But what I will say anecdotally is, once again, when you find yourself part of a minority status, you start exploring all aspects of who you are in your world. And once again, if you are not just accepting the script that you have been handed, that you’re supposed to follow, and suddenly you get a script, and three of the pages have been torn out. And you have to figure out your way through those three pages. That’s when you’re going to start looking at everything. And for me, I think it’s incredibly powerful. And I do think it is something to be aware of as a parent that there is huge correlation that we’re really starting to understand right now.

Debbie Reber  22:27

So interesting. In the Tilt Parenting community, one of our core beliefs is having this ethos of neurodiversity affirming parenting, and you talked in the very beginning about affirming who our kids are. So I’m just wondering if you could talk a little bit more about that, why it’s so important in the way that our families show up for kids in a LGBTQIA affirming way. And what does that mean, in the real world, you talk a lot about this in the back of the book, like dealing with the outside world and with family and with friends. And so how do parents show up for their kids in that way?

John Sovec  23:03

Like you were just saying, when your kid comes out to you as a parent, I like to describe it as they’re dropping a pebble in the middle of the family pond. And it’s going to ripple out and affect you as parents it’s going to ripple out and affect the other siblings in the household is going to ripple out and affect extended family is going to ripple out and affect family, community connections. All of those things need to be looked at in this process. And it can either be a process that tears people apart, or it can be a process that brings us together. I’m always accused of being way too optimistic about the world I live in. But my hope and my hope in this book, and the language I use is about finding ways for us to make it a place to bring us together. So that if your kid comes out to you working with your spouse, or if you’re on your own finding community support, like a PFLAG meeting, or reading from places like PFLAG online that has some great resources, so that you become a stronger, more affirming parent, or parents. And then that place you bring in the sibling conversation, because although they may not identify as being part of the LGBTQ community, questions of sexual orientation and gender identity can be important discussions for everybody. How are the siblings feeling about their other sibling coming out? What’s that energy? What does it mean to the family? And then coming together as a family and discussing how do we let extended family now? How do we create an affirming space that moves out in the extended family? And one thing that I point out so strongly in the book is as a parent, you need to really check in with your LGBTQ kid because they need to be the driver of that car. There have been so many occasions where really well meaning parents who are affirming and supportive and ready to be there for their kids. Reach out into the world and start announcing the coming out Access for their kid without their kids permission. That really, really takes away the empowerment of the moment from the kids. So sit down, it says like, look, we’re going to be meeting with grandma for the holidays. Do you want grandma to know? Do you want grandma to use your affirmed pronouns and name? Are you ready for that? And the kid might say yes or no. And then you as a family need to work together to create a support system to back up and support that decision. So all of these layers play out in this process. And that’s where as a family, I think it’s important to come together and find out how you’re going to move through the world together to support your kid.

Debbie Reber  25:39

Yeah, and it’s not one or two conversations. It’s just ongoing connection, relationship, communication, and growing together throughout this process.

John Sovec  25:49

And you did address something that is so important for me as well, it’s a lot of times even in really well, many families, it turns into a one and done conversation. I’m out, I’m this and that. Great, we love you. Yay. And then crickets. And like we said earlier, this is a process, it’s an ongoing process. What does being out mean? In their school environment? How’s it affect their dating experience? How is it going to affect the colleges they choose from? What’s it going to feel like when they’re going to a workspace? How’s it going to affect your kids’ connection to their faith or spirituality, all of these things are part of the conversation. And if we as parents can move away from our anxiety and fear about opening up those deeper questions, we can actually connect to our kids. And I always tell this, we can learn a lot from them as a means for our own growth and development.

Debbie Reber  26:40

Absolutely. I just want to let listeners know, too, that John’s book has such great information in there about how to talk about sex, how to talk about all the things that our kids need to know that any child needs to know, but through the lens of specific issues or concerns, considerations for LGBTQIA+ kids. So we’re not going to go into that in depth, but maybe just to share why it was so important for you to provide that really just useful and very detailed information that parents might not be able to access otherwise.

John Sovec  27:14

Well, the first thing I always say to the end of the chapter is like what we talked about in the sex and relationship chapter could apply to any of your kid, because it is one of the most anxiety producing moments for parents to realize their kids may be sexually active creatures and how to talk about that openly. I do think it’s important once again, to understand that oftentimes, as parents, you may have made decisions about how we’re going to treat our kids as they grow up through a very heteronormative lens. And then when your kid comes out, it throws that all topsy turvy. And the thing I think it’s so important for parents to look at is treating your kids equally. In those moments. I give an example of a book in that, like if you have a kid who is a cisgender heterosexual and AJ teen the rule in your house is they can have sleepovers with someone they’re dating. Okay. Oftentimes when a gay kid comes out, and they’ve turned 18, and they want to have that sleepover parents’ brains explode, because they can’t conceptualize what that means. And when I talk about it, we need to create an equal playing field for you to get over your biases and agendas to understand that their needs as a developing person are just as important as those of your straight kids.

Debbie Reber  28:35

Yeah, that’s great. I know that it can get very confusing for parents, especially if their kid is on a gender journey. And dating, they may not understand what sexual orientation means in the context of a different gender identity. So I really appreciate everything that you shared in that chapter. So helpful.

John Sovec  28:54

Just one joking thing to as a parent, I’ve never heard any parent who actually understands their kids dating process. Most parents come to me and say, like, I do not understand dating today. And that’s okay. It is totally okay. But don’t understand it equally for all of your kids, you know?

Debbie Reber  29:11

Yes, exactly. At the very back of the book, you have a great SOS help guide, where you tackle the most frequently asked questions, which is just such a gift. And I bet you get a lot of questions. I’m kind of curious what is I don’t know if there’s one most common question, but what is the thing that parents that you seem to be most concerned about? Or that you find yourself saying over and over again to parents in the midst of this process?

John Sovec  29:38

The reason that SOS book is part of the book is there is because there are these. I’m picking questions that come up for almost all parents. The number one thing that I get during conversations is what did I do wrong? That my kid is LGBTQIA+. So at the beginning, you talked about how you like to break things. out. And for me, the biggest thing in that question is this idea of wrong. Because what it does is it sets out that there is something incorrect about who your kid is becoming and who they are unveiling cells to be to you. I think it’s so important for parents to move beyond that type of questioning, because it does put out this tacit thing that this is a “less than” identity. You may have also noticed that I don’t use the word acceptance in the book, or in our conversations today. Because for me, using the word acceptance says, I see a flaw in you, but I’m going to be a big person to accept you for this flaw. Anyways, I use the word affirmation, I affirm you and see you for exactly who you are. And that’s what I encourage parents to do. Whenever this question of what did I do to make them this way? There’s no there is nothing you did to make them this way. There’s nothing wrong with them being who they are, and to open up your heart and embrace this amazing kid. That’s right in front of you.

Debbie Reber  31:01

Yeah, I love that distinction between acceptance and affirming. And just to add to that, with the kids that you’re working with, is acceptance, a piece of the journey that you’re on with them, I imagine you have kids who show up who are struggling with who they inherently are, is that part of your process.

John Sovec  31:19

For me, it all walks hand in hand for them to affirm who they are, to be able to look in the mirror and look in their eyes and say I am a beautiful spirit on this earth. And I am ready to take on the world and be exactly who I am, once again, beyond acceptance and moving into those deeper levels of core understanding of who we are. And people hear me say that about adolescence. But that’s the miracle of it. They are in these really beautiful juicy spaces of exploration. And so if when I open up questions like that, it’s so amazing to watch them bloom, and explore how affirming their life can be if they can shift that lens that I’m less than simply by being LGBTQIA+.

Debbie Reber  32:05

Yeah, and everything that you’re saying to me just also, once again, does relate to neuro divergence. And this idea that neurodivergent people are wrong, or there’s something needs to be fixed. I think intersectionality can create even more challenges when kids are trying to figure out identity and navigate and come to a place of self affirmation when they’re living in a world that doesn’t always see their identity as a positive.

John Sovec  32:31

And that’s on us. Yeah, it’s not on any kid who’s going through their own unique journey. It is on us as the adults in their world to work through whatever our anxieties and fears and biases and agendas are. And to be willing to step in a more innocent place of discovery and realize we do not know it all. And that’s got to be okay.

Debbie Reber  32:53

Is there anything that we didn’t talk about that you would want to make sure listeners leave knowing we couldn’t go into the whole book. But listeners, it’s an easy read. It’s comprehensive and rich with experience. And so I highly recommend listeners, even if you’re not going through this journey, right now that you check it out to see how you can be more supportive. Because there are humans in your world, kids in your world who are going to be on this journey, you may not know it now. So being just aware of how you might want to show up better to those relationships is a wonderful thing. But is there anything that you’d want to make sure that listeners have in their head? Before we say goodbye?

John Sovec  33:37

You know, we were just talking about building this affirming energy. And this is a journey for parents, you know, what your kid is going through, you’re going through as an entire family. And at the end of each chapter, there are these five questions for reflection. And it’s really funny, it happened because I wrote a couple for some early on chapters. And my editor was like, Oh, this is really cool. You need to make this part of every chapter. And it is about whatever you read in each chapter at the end, they’re going to be five questions for you, as a parent to look inside, and really question your feelings, your thoughts, your ideas about the material presented in each chapter. And I think this can be so powerful for your personal growth as a parent of an LGBTQIA+ kid, to really look at the thing society taught you the baggage you’re carrying, as you’re joining your kid on this journey.

Debbie Reber  34:31

Yeah, I love those I have in every tilt in my book Differently Wired I have three questions for reflection. And I just love that invitation. Because we really do as parents and caregivers have to look inside ourselves to do this deep inner work and your questions were very beautifully written in prompting that kind of insight. So I appreciate that. And yeah, I just want to say thank you, first of all, again, for writing this book for sharing everything that you’ve shared with us today. Is there a place you’d like listeners to to engage with you or learn more about your work.

John Sovec  35:03

Well, you can find more about me and my work at my website, which is www.john See, I’m gonna guess it’ll be in the show notes. You can also find me a gay teen And the book is available at your local bookseller. If they don’t have it. You can find it on Amazon. Or you can go to the manager of that bookstore and say you got to carry this book.

Debbie Reber  35:27

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I always encourage readers to do that; just show up and then they’ll order it and they’ll have it in stock. So thank you again. The book again is called out and it’s a great read. Congratulations, and thanks again for everything you shared with us today.

John Sovec  35:41

Thank you.

Debbie Reber  35:45

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