While I think that's a big part of it -- some us are going to have gay kids -- the part that's been on my mind is more lateral. Kids realizing that not all of their peers are going to be straight.
Why are you concerned with impressing on your daughter that not all of her peers are going to be straight? Why encourage her to wonder whether this boy who seems to like her might be gay? Or to think about the fact that by the time she is in high school some of the friends she has now will likely turn out to be gay?
I am truly confused about your thinking on this issue.
Wondering or speculating about the sexual orientation of other people, and encouraging your child to do the same, has nothing to do with creating a climate of acceptance for people who might be gay or lesbian
Usually, if I start to respond to something by quoting myself, I decide it's not a good idea to go ahead. If it wasn't effective the first time, no particular reason it would be effective the second (or third or fourth) times.
That's assuming that you've read all that I've said here, and not just the first post? If you haven't, that's probably the best starting point.
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.
Here's the new angle which might (or might not) help clarify things:
My kid and I talk a lot. Probably 98% of our interactions are just boring, baseline stuff. What happened at school that day, our schedules for the next week, what we thought about that book we both read, whether she can go on the computer right now, whether she's had enough to drink today, the funny thing her friend told her -- just your everyday usual stuff.
Probably 2% has some sort of teaching element.
For example, she recently burst an eardrum. Fluid is steadily leaking out of her ear, so she has a cotton ball in it to catch the fluid, and went to school that way. She told me that she showed her friend Nat and he was like "ewwww." It's gross, so I understood the "ewww." I was concerned about why she'd show him something so gross -- seemed like kind of bad manners. (They're good friends, but....) So I asked her about why she showed him.
She explained that they'd had a whole conversation about it, and he kept asking detailed questions, and so she finally asked because that seemed to be what he was angling for -- "do you want to see?" -- and at first he demurred but then said sure, and then she showed him, and then he said "ewwwww."
I said "OK, that makes sense. Good idea to ask him first."
If she'd said she just kinda waved it under his nose, I would have encouraged her to be more respectful of his feelings next time.
Because we talk a lot, even 2% of our total interactions adds up to a lot.
Recently we were talking about a tribe of (Amazonian Indians, I think) who have big plates in their lips. She thought it looked odd. (Again, I don't think noting difference is itself a problem -- I think what matters is what you do with it and what value judgement you assign to it.) I said yeah, it sure looks uncomfortable to me, but they seem used to it. I wonder what they think is odd about us? High heels maybe?
There was a visible shift as she considered the things we consider normal that might be odd to other cultures. We came up with a few more.
If she says that someone was really mean today, I might ask her what's going on in that person's life, if there's a reason she might be mean today.
Etc., etc., etc. There is a lot of this kind of thing.
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.
It just happened in the course of the conversation at the time -- I wasn't consciously thinking anything when I asked her what the Amazonian Indians were likely to think were weird about Westerners, either.
But it had a similar goal of getting her outside of preconceived notions.
I absolutely didn't say he is
gay. And the rest of the conversation after what I transcribed here -- her "hmm, maybe..." -- was me shrugging in a "who knows" way, before we went on to talk about other things.
I think her keeping in mind the possibility that some of her peers either are or will turn out to be gay has a few different positives:
- She's more likely to stand up against gay slurs if she thinks that maybe some of the other people in earshot are themselves gay
- She's less likely to have a shocked/ negative reaction if/when one of her friends come out
- She's less likely to keep things neutral about homosexuality when talking to her peers (if she keeps in mind the possibility that one of them may in fact be/ turn out to be gay), which I think is an important part of a culture that is more accepting of homosexuality.
That's why it is difficult, or can be difficult, for those who are homosexual, and who grow up knowing that their feelings and attractions do not conform to the norm for their gender, because this does involve feeling different, and, in fact, it is a realization of being different, and, if that child's parents are not accepting of those differences, the child will feel even more alienated or confused or isolated, and will lack a very needed source of support. It's parental acceptance these children need, which is basically what the article you posted was saying.
I think there needs to be acceptance from everyone, not just parents. There are differences, of course. Whether you place a value judgment on that difference is what is important.
I'm deaf, for example. That's different from hearing. I don't somehow hide that I'm deaf, because it's shameful or bad to be different. I don't neglect to mention that her friend Nicole is deaf, because that would be insulting to Nicole.
And that's really the point, I think. When we shy from discussing differences -- when some are discussable and some are not -- then that holds a big value judgement right there.
Why can we discuss that I'm deaf, or that her friend Nicole is deaf, but not discuss whether someone might be gay?
If we don't discuss anyone's romantic inclinations at all, I get that. But these girls like to talk about this stuff -- romantic inclinations are being discussed like crazy -- just within a purely heterosexual context.
If one of her friends are/ will be lesbian, and sozlet pipes up with something neutral or positive about lesbians and the friend feels more comfortable and accepted before she's ever come out, that's a good thing.
I don't think making it taboo helps.
And, if we want to change that, we try to raise our children to simply be accepting of other people, and their differences, and not to make any judgments about them based on their sexual orientation or sexual preferences.
Yes. (Have I at any point indicated that I think she should judge people based on their sexual orientation or preferences?)