“being a child doesn’t protect you from hate crimes…” —reneta xian (read original post)
this is a very powerful statement. most people just “protect” their children from such “grown-up” concepts as sexual orientation and gender identity (including transness). most people don’t even consider why they think these ideas are too grown-up for their kids— they just instinctively “protect” their offspring.
i mean, i have 5 nephews and 1 niece. they’re all more awesome than velociraptor astronauts (that’s pretty awesome, right?), but they don’t know much about queer issues— other than what i talk to them about. their schools won’t touch an issue if it isn’t as straight and as cis as possible— which is pretty fucking lame.
a few months ago, when i first tried to explain to my niece and my two oldest nephews that i’m not female, my niece chimed in with “of course you’re a girl! you’re in love with uncle d_____!” ew. let’s talk about that, o_____. sometimes, women love women and men love men. sometimes, a person isn’t even a man or a woman— but they still date and fall in love.
my niece and nephews were kinda bewildered; i don’t think they’d ever really heard of something as simple as real gay people. let alone people who aren’t male or female and who don’t really care about the gender of their partner. nobody, not their teachers or their parents or the books in the children’s section at the library had really talked to them about gender and sexual diversity.
and that makes me sad, folks. this isn’t a “dirty” topic. i’m not talking about discussing the detailed mechanics of sex between two women or about the details of bottom surgery. i’m just talking about the existence of people who aren’t heterosexual and/or cisgender. that’s it. just that queer people exist and that ALL people, queer or otherwise, deserve respect. i understand that schools don’t want to upset parents by discussing controversial issues with their kids, but human diversity should NOT be considered controversial.
leaving kids ignorant about gender and sexuality doesn’t result in a bunch of unqueer children— and it doesn’t protect queer children from bullying and erasure. leaving kids to figure out the truth about human diversity leads to hate crimes, shame, and loneliness. ignorant queer kids grow up feeling isolated and afraid. ignorant unqueer kids grow up thinking that queer people aren’t really human and/or don’t really exist. to me, this totally looks like a great way to keep the brutal pot of hate criminals and their victims perpetually bubbling.
tv shows are including increasing numbers of queer characters. and in real life, people don’t always lose their jobs and their families as soon as they come out as queer. things are looking up. shit is getting better. but what we’re seeing today in the media and in society at large is increasing tolerance of queerness. what we need is education from an early age— education promoting basic respect as opposed to half-assed education promoting tolerance.
children can be victims of hate crimes. children can commit hate crimes. the adults they will grow into can also be victims or perpetrators of hate crimes. the only way to protect children is to educate them.
so, yeah. what do you guys think about this? how soon is too soon to discuss queerness with kids? what about discussing gender and sex stereotypes with kids? is that shit too grown-up? talk to me, peoples!
note: reneta xian pretty much says it all; i just sorta bounced off her sweet post. go read her stuff.