The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Kid stuff

When do people learn to hate gays?

I began to wonder this as I was visiting a household where young grandmother is the caretaker for a 3 year old boy. A 4 -1/2 year old kin was visiting him, and the grandmother described how they greeted each other with baby bear hugs and the older tot told me how he pushed the younger boys hair up and kissed him on the forehead.

I don’t believe any parent, except for the most cynical, would discourage two toddler boys from showing affection. We teach our babies to express love and appreciation, and encourage them to hug and kiss even strangers sometimes.

At some point, such affection becomes “yucky” for some boys. I don’t believe this is a natural change, rather they get signals or direction from their parents or older siblings.

As I watched these two boys play together, I thought about how we hear from right wing Christianists that they don’t want their children exposed to homosexual behavior, or homosexual relationships, or learning about those relationships, in elementary school or elsewhere.

I stood in church during a song on Sunday, and observed an opposite-sex couple in front of me allow their hand to touch, and take hold of each other.

I thought about taking my partner’s hand, and wondered what the reaction of the people behind us would be. There are many children in the church, of all ages, and the youngest had left for the children’s program. Any kid over 8 years of age knows about homosexuals and I doubt they would have been shocked (the church is pretty open in its support of its gay members and visitors), but they may have been surprised.

But not all kids are being raised by supportive parents. And not all school or church environments are tolerant of an adolescent's growing realization of their sexuality. But most kids at some point deal with gay schoolmates at some point. How they respond depends on many factors. I'm sure books have been written about it.

By the time some kids reach high school, they might react like Finn did when Kurt showed him the room they were going to share when their families blended on the wildly popular Fox show, Glee. This clip (I hope it plays) is an absolutely wonderful portrayal of a situation many of us have lived through.

Of course, not all kids have a father like Kurt’s dad. Some fathers would not make the effort that Kurt’s dad is in trying to accept his kid. In this episode, his defense of Kurt is probably as much a turning point for him as it was an awakening for Finn. And let’s not ignore the effect on Kurt.

Someday, society will be such that I could take my partner’s hand without hesitation, and without having to evaluate the environment we are in to determine if it is proper or not.

The fact is, it is ALWAYS proper to show affection or closeness to someone you love. I’m not talking about PDA, like kissing in public, most people don’t like that from either straight or gay couples. But holding one’s hand or putting one’s arm around their lover should not be a problem.

Should not. But there are, of course, safety issues involved, and that is a subject for another day. But here, I guess I am just wondering aloud and asking myself how a parent can teach a kid that some strangers or even some of their friends are to be hated and thought of as less than themselves. This goes for race and ethnicity, too.

I guess some people just shouldn’t be parents, and it is up to the rest of us to somehow catch the attention of their kids and allow them to learn that we are One Human Family and on that level we are all equal.

Watch the entire episode of Glee here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Outstanding article. As a teacher, I have seen many times (especially on the middle school playground) kids using the three letter "F" word toward each other. I actually had to stand up (because other teachers would not) for a male child who was badly beaten up just for being effeminate. His beating was administered by one of the schools' star running backs while no one was looking. After witnessing this and having the athlete suspended, I have now decided to stand up for any student (as all teachers should) who are targets of hate while other teachers turn their heads.