I will never forget, at the age of eight, watching the local news and seeing two men kiss while a local reporter discussed an HIV/AIDS fundraiser taking place in our city. Until then, I had never seen two men kiss openly, and I turned to my mom to ask her about it. The idea of queer relationships was foreign to me, and I had a lot of questions. Even though same-sex marriage is now legal in the United States and in Canada, many LGBTQ+ folks face discrimination day in and day out. This is why conversations with our kids surrounding the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, queer, and otherwise gender nonconforming (LGBTQ+) community need to start sooner. That’s where Lindsey Amer comes in.
Amer created and produces the YouTube channel Queer Kids Stuff, an educational series for kids that approaches LGBTQ+ issues in a positive and nonjudgmental way. After realizing that there weren’t many resources out there for parents and educators, Amer decided it was time to fill the niche for herself.
“Really, I’m just making the content I wish I’d had when I was a kid,” she tells us. “I think it’s so important for young people to see themselves reflected in their media, and this age group is so often overlooked.”
Having launched only two years ago, Amer’s channel has gained over 10,000 subscribers for its fun approach to pretty serious topics. Jessica Langer, a parent of two kids — Miranda (eight) and Nathaniel (four) — has slowly integrated channels like Queer Kid Stuff into her children’s everyday learnings. She mentions that while it wasn’t really a “conscious decision,” to focus on raising awareness about LGBTQ+ issues with her children at such a young age, as a family they have felt well-equipped to discuss these issues thanks to multiple media sources and events. Langer notes, “Parenting is, in part, about learning new things along with your kids, and helping prepare your kids for the world in which they live.”
While Langer has been fairly open in her conversations with her kids, Amer knew that many parents can struggle with discussing LGBTQ+ issues with young children. Although she grew up in a liberal household, she wishes that her parents had known more and had been able to have more open conversations about gender identity and sexuality — issues that Amer was struggling to understand within herself.
“Kids learn from their surroundings no matter what and there’s, obviously, a lot of negativity that comes with LGBTQ+ identities,” Amer explained. With her channel, she’s hoping to help steer productive conversations that foster a safe and positive association with LGBTQ+ issues.
Of course, not everyone agrees in Amer’s mission. Currently, there is a Change.org petition calling for the shutdown of Amer’s YouTube channel, which argues, in part, that the channel should be rated for adults and that conversations about gender and sexuality should be restricted to sex education classes. Brandy Dawley, a single mother to son Daven (six) disagrees. A pansexual queer woman, her last long-term relationship featured her partner’s gender transition while her son was four years old.
“I had to find a way to explain why we were going to start referring to my partner as she/her and by her chosen name,” Dawley explains.
Having a multitude of online resources for Daven to read and watch helped him have a better understanding of gender, love, and sexuality. Dawley also notes that she has always tried to encourage open communication from her son so that he could always feel comfortable about asking questions about anything he wanted.
“He seems to understand concepts about sexuality and gender, and he’s been very good at understanding and accepting,” she says.
Amer says that while her videos are aimed at kids, and she tries to keep a lot of the content light and entertaining, she’s not “dumbing” anything down or shying away from topics that might seem complicated. Because of this, she knows she is creating a series that are explaining complicated topics in an accessible way. She regularly receives comments from parents that thank her for the videos and the work she has created.
As Queer Kids Stuff continues to grow, launching a Kickstarter campaign to help film the next two seasons, Amer tells us that she’s currently in the midst of signing a partnership deal that would have her creating educational materials. At the end of the day, she’s super excited about where Queer Kids Stuff has gone, and she knows that it is an important place not just for parents, but for kids.
“I’m trying to make a change, and there is such a need for this content in every sector,” she says.