Friday, October 22, 2010

Teach your children well..... Please

Being a mom of a gay daughter, I am extremely aware of the issues surrounding the LGBT community.

I have seen teen girls kicked out of their homes by their own parents, called terrible names and told not to come back unless they would decide not to be gay anymore. They were sent out into the world with no place to live but their car or an understanding friends house and if they had neither of those, it was the streets. There was at least twice that we had one or two of these young ladies bunking with us on our couch because they had nowhere else to go.

I live in a wealthier area where you would hope that the education level would temper these bigotries but unfortunately the area runs towards the conservative side and tolerance is not practiced as much as it should be. Children seem to start early parroting what their parents say. Parents probably saying things when they think their kids aren't listening. But one thing I have learned is kids listen most when their parents don't want them to.

Not long ago on the schoolyard Katherine was playing with one of her best friends, Gabby. Another girl from Jeffrey's class came up to them and told her she thought she and Gabby were lesbians because they spent so much time together. And she went on to say how terrible she thought that was. Katherine who has both been taught in her karate class to walk away when kids are taunting or teasing and also does not see a lesbian as a bad thing simply ignored her and moved on. Gabby on the other hand was quite distraught and went to tell the yard duty.

I never did get a straight answer about what happened to the other girl (apparently she was talked to and told that was inappropriate) but in all honesty I wanted to find the girls mother and say a few choice words because obviously this child was getting her viewpoint from somewhere and thought it was OK to spew the stupidity out to anyone who would listen.

Katherine told me it didn't bother her because she knows there is nothing wrong with being gay even if some people tell her otherwise. But other kids aren't so lucky. They might not have an opinion one way or another but if they hear other kids talking about being gay in a negative way they may develop attitudes about it simply by listening to what other kids think. This is why it is SO important for parents talk to their kids and tell them that there is nothing wrong with being gay, that it is not a choice and it is how some people are born. That gay people are no different than straight people and deserve every right and opportunity that the rest of society is granted.

Please parents.. teach your children that words hurt. That old adage about sticks and stones just isn't true when you are young, vulnerable, alone and trying to find out who you are. Kids and teens want their peers to accept them for who they are. And when they aren't accepted and are labeled different (especially if it's a BAD different) they often do not know what to do. Even if they have parents, teachers or anyone for that matter who would be there for them, it may be very hard for them to talk about their feelings because they are embarrassed about what they are going through.

Thats why its so important to talk to your child, be they 7 or 17 or anything in between. YOU start the conversation. YOU ask questions in a way that makes it safe to answer. Thats how I found out about the incident at school. Neither kid would have even thought to have told me. I started asking some general questions about the kids in their class. Were there nice kids? Were there mean kids? And thats when Jeffrey said there was a girl calling names. I had to ask a few more questions to find out exactly what happened but the point is, in general if you don't ask they wont tell. And thats just another example of how that policy is just bad business for everyone.

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