LGTBQ questions and issues are dominating the media landscape lately, especially in my province, where government and teachers are building curricula and tools around fostering a supportive and inclusive environment.
The Gender Unicorn (above) is what they’ve settled on as a tool to explain to children gender fluidity. Along with it comes a recommendation to start using gender neutral pronouns in the classroom. Gone is “guys” and “girls” to be replaced with “friends” or “comrades.” That last word, naturally, drew the far right into a nasty fight decrying “such communist language” coming from the left.
And the whole debate quickly steered away from the issue and devolved into partisan name calling and ideological preaching.
That’s not how we get to the right side of history, people.
Honestly, I find it all so baffling that we even need to have this kind of high level social ideology put into our school planning where kids should be learning about numbers and letters and history.
But that’s my privilege showing.
I teach my kids about equality. I teach my kids there are no boy toys or girl toys. I answer my children’s questions openly, and appropriately, whenever they have something they wonder about.
Not everyone does this.
When we, as parents, don’t get on the same page with raising our kids with a core set of agreed upon values of acceptance and equality, the state has to move in. When the radical right (or left) starts to flex too much influence in the equation, the state moves in to get things back to middle.
The Gender Unicorn coming to school curricula is answer to that. Not enough people are raising their kids with a value system that promotes equality and diversity, and the state needs to intervene to build a safe society.
I wish this didn’t need to happen, but it does.
The only thing I hide from my children is the extreme violence of rape, murder, and war that seems to dominate the evening news. Religion doesn’t steer my moral view of the world, a genuine wish to leave the place better than I found it and raise empathetic kids guides me.
I’m atheist. We don’t go to church. We won’t go to church.
I am open with my kids about mythology and how some people feel the need to use stories to define things they don’t understand. I explain to them that those stories are very old and science has given us much of the answers we seek. My kids know there is no god.
So when they ask questions about why people have many different paths through life, I’m not bound by ideology to spread hate and distrust. I can answer my sons’ questions openly, honestly, and with age appropriate language.
“Daddy, what’s transgender?” my sons asked as we watch an episode of the Amazing Race Canada that featured a contestant who was transitioning.
Explaining to my kids what transgender means as we watch @AmazingRaceCDA. Go Hamilton! #noh8 pic.twitter.com/1S8QuA7SSK
— Buzz Bishop (@buzzbishop) August 1, 2015
“It’s someone who was born as a boy or a girl but feels they should be the other way,” I explained in a way he could understand. “So that’s how they behave.”
“Oh, okay,” came the understated reply. We moved on and watched the show.
Did he completely understand? Probably not. But I didn’t make it a big deal, I explained that the person on tv was not scary, or different, or weird. He accepted it and moved on.
A few years earlier I had a similar conversation with Zacharie when I was excited to get out and take a picture of Vancouver’s rainbow crosswalk the summer it was painted.
“Daddy why is there a rainbow on the crosswalk?”
“To remind us we can love whoever we want,” I explained.
“But I already love everyone,” came the perfect 5 year old response.
Again, age appropriate explanation, no sensationalist bias or fear. I just explain to my kids that ‘some people are like this and that’s okay.’
My best friend is gay. He’s married. He and his husband are awesome, my sons know them as daddy’s friends and don’t question a thing.
We don’t make a big deal about it, they don’t make a big deal about it, they’re just a couple of grownups like my wife’s best friend and her husband.
It’s. not. a. big. deal.
But some people don’t see it that way, still. They sow seeds of fear, bias, hate, and bigotry in their kids. And we end up with nasty political fights rooted in ideology, totally missing the point that we’re all on the same team.
The arc of history is bending towards acceptance. There will be a time when all of this ‘won’t matter anymore.’ It’s a shame schools have to spend time on this social contract, but those sticks in the mud need to move.
Comrade is over the top, I agree. But, in the end, we will all be friends. You can come willingly, or you can drag out the process, but a more equal, tolerant world is where this ends, especially if my kids have a say.
It’s easy having my kids grow up in Seattle, our own progressive and inclusive bubble of a city. Our mayor is gay. The kids go to Catholic school, but we do our best to teach them what true love for all looks like.
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