So the Ryan conversation. In this case, I was introducing the idea that he might be gay -- no value judgment. Not a warning. Not anything negative. Just a possibility.
I'm not questioning your motivation, or the values you are trying to impart to your daughter--I agree with you about those things.
It's your logic that is alluding me.
Your daughter was talking about a boy who seemed to like her. Where is the logic in suggesting to her that he might be gay? What behavior was Ryan exhibiting toward your daughter that would justify your speculation that he was gay?
Had your daughter said that the reverse was the case--she really liked Ryan but he wasn't at all interested in her, your response would make more sense to me. Or, had she said that Ryan seemed to have a crush on Tom, your response would make considerably more sense to me.
Do you really want your daughter wondering that boys who seem to like her might really be gay? What would that mean for her? Or do you really want her to concern herself, at all, with the fact that the boy who likes her today might later in his life realize he is are gay or bisexual? Is that of value to her in understanding this boy's feelings toward her right now?
It seems to me that you wanted to find an excuse to introduce the topic of possible peer homosexuality with her and chose an inappropriate moment, and illogical example, to do that.
So, I had already explained that there was already wondering or speculating going on about people's sexual orientation. Because that's what's going on when someone says "I think Peter might have a crush on Mary."
They are speculating that Peter is heterosexual -- but since that's such a baseline assumption, it's not something where "sexual orientation" jumps out at most people. It's just baseline.
I don't completely agree with you about that. Attraction and "crushes"--particularly in that age group-- are not necessarily related to what we think of in terms of adult sexual orientation. These feelings may not have a sexual basis at all, in the sense of being connected to any desire for physical sexual contact, beyond maybe a kiss. And children that age may experience strong feelings for a close friend of the same gender, or hero worship or idealization of a celebrity adult of the same gender, and this may also be normal and indicative of nothing about their sexual orientation, or later sexual orientation. And the main pop star heartthrobs for girls in that age group have always been asexual or slightly female appearing males, of the Justin Bieber type.
So, I don't think these kids are speculating on who is heterosexual when they are discussing who has a crush on who. That's you reading into it. I think they are exploring the laws of attraction, and their feelings for other people, and evaluating their own attractiveness, and figuring out to handle and express such feelings. and, while this is the burgeoning of sexual awareness, I'm not sure it is useful for adults to introduce concepts--like sexual orientation--into discussions of that sort, unless the child brings them up or the child is wondering about their own sexual identity.
When we shy from discussing differences -- when some are discussable and some are not -- then that holds a big value judgment right there.
I don't think we should shy away from discussing differences. But I don't think we should necessarily emphasize differences either, or go out of our way to point them out. Your daughter hasn't been sheltered from an awareness of differences in sexual orientation.
But, again, your speculation about Ryan's sexual orientation, was designed to make your daughter think about his
sexual orientation, and whether he
differed from the norm, and that is an entirely different matter. You were planting an idea in her head--about another person--that wasn't even logically justified in the context of a discussion about a boy who liked her.
If one of her friends are/ will be lesbian, and sozlet pipes up with something neutral or positive about lesbians...
So now you want her to feel positively
about lesbians? Why? Isn't that making a definite value judgment? Is being lesbian something positive as compared with being heterosexual? Why make any judgments at all
about sexual orientation/preference?
I don't think making it taboo helps.
Who's making it taboo? Gay marriage is already an issue in the presidential campaign as well as a national issue, a gay couple is on the hit show "Modern Family", etc. and your daughter is already aware that there are differences in sexual orientations, that not everyone is heterosexual.
I guess I don't understand why it's important for you to prepare your daughter for the possibility that one day she might find out that one of her peers is gay. If that peer is a friend, I wouldn't think such a revelation would affect her feelings for her friend one way or the other. If it's someone she doesn't know well, it's also not something that should affect her one way or the other--it just shouldn't be a big deal.
If she feels that making slurs about someone is wrong, she might speak up if those hurtful slurs are made about someone's race, or religion, or appearance, or weight, or sexual activity, or sexual orientation--the issue is more how she deals with the destructive and hurtful effect of any slurs she hears, of any type, and not sexual orientation in particular.
It might be helpful for your daughter to understand why other people have negative feelings about gays, and the fact that this is often based in religious beliefs and teachings, and that those people are also entitled to hold such beliefs. This becomes the really tricky part of teaching religious tolerance when religious groups hold beliefs you don't agree with. And I think religious tolerance is arguably as important as tolerance of differences in sexual orientation. As long as there are negative feelings regarding homosexuality coming from religious leaders and pulpits, wide-spread acceptance is not going to happen, but tolerance is possible, and as long as people leave each other alone, and don't try to harm or disadvantage others whose sexual life style differs from theirs, I think we are making some progress as a society in embracing diversity, even though it falls short of the ideal.
I also think you, perhaps, might pay a little more attention to why Sturgis doesn't agree with the approach you took with your daughter rather than just trying to explain yourself to him. Particularly since he does identify himself as being gay, I think his opinions on this topic are quite relevant.