Well, there’s nothing wrong with that

I had a long conversation with my daughter recently which was sparked off by a couple of things that had come up at school. It started with her recounting a conversation that took place when the word “gay” was used an insult by one one of the boys to one of Caitlin’s friends, the friend responded by asking him if he knew what gay meant and he replied “Yeah, it means happy”. Caitlin’s friend said “No, it’s when 2 boys or 2 girls love each other” and Caitlin chimed in with “Well, there’s nothing wrong with that”. Then Caitlin’s friend came out with “Yes there is, it’s disgusting and wrong!” (I believe that after a couple more “no it’s not/yes it is” exchanges the subject was dropped without resolution.)

Sigh.

Next came the revelation that one of Caitlin’s friends had told her that she (the friend) believed that other kids at school didn’t like her because she looked different to everyone else.** This friend is Chinese. I was, rather naively I suppose, quite surprised and very saddened by this, as was Caitlin.

Sigh again.

Anyway, it all led into a long discussion about the problem of prejudice and the issues of homophobia and racism. David joined in too after a while. Both the kids were coming up with some great ways to explain their understanding of the issues. I even overheard them going over the same ground amongst themselves – Tom included this time – at the breakfast table the next morning (which had me calling out “Less talking, more eating, we’re going to be LATE!).

Let me share one of the arguments they came up with.

They’ve learned about how left-handed kids used to get into trouble for writing with the “wrong hand” at school through their history studies, so when I explained that some people are just made differently when it comes to sexual orientation, they made a connection.

“Being homosexual is like being left-handed, you’re just made that way, it’s not wrong, just different. People used to believe that being left-handed was wrong, it’s not, they were wrong. There’s nothing wrong with being different.”

I was proud that Caitlin was willing to take a stand against homophobia, I hope all my kids will be willing to speak out against hate and bigotry and I dare to hope that their doing so might help their peers to understand a little more and hate and fear a little less.

*I have gay friends and family, the kids are pretty disgusted by the idea of homophobia.

**My kids’ school is a bizarrely homogeneous Anglo-Saxon enclave considering that there is quite a large proportion of Asian and other immigrants in the surrounding areas. There’s a Chinese church one block from our house for one thing.

7 Responses to “Well, there’s nothing wrong with that”

  1. Dina says:

    That’s great that you had these conversations!!

    I think it’s a very important thing to discuss. I talk to Jack about racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.

    He’s known what “Gay” means since he was about 4 or 5.

    We talk about different religions.

    All kinds of stuff.

  2. Shrinking Tardie says:

    Hey Mim,

    Your kids sound eerily like mine! I remember AJ coming home in Kinder absolutely mortified because one of the boys had been teased horribly by the others. This little fella was Sri Lankan and had the darkest of dark skin I’d ever seen. Anyway, I asked AJ why she thought they’d hassled this little boy. Her response was priceless – perhaps because he has a funny last name mum? She didn’t even ‘see’ his skin colour.

    And I am VERY proud to say that both of my kids are just as accepting of all – oh, except stupid, bigotted people – then we all have a problem 🙂

  3. Tracee says:

    Shocking that parents still teach their kids all that crazy stuff. See the Light people!

  4. Ariane says:

    Wow, what is it with the all the homosexuality conversations? They’re rife. I still reckon they’re easier than incest. 🙂

    Ben will be please to have such understanding friends when he goes to Canberra to marry his best friend.

  5. yodaobi says:

    Have I told you how lucky your kids are to have such an awesome mum?

    OH wait
    Yerp
    ALL THE TIME.

    I’ve all that to look forward to.

    EM

  6. Mary P Jones (MPJ) says:

    Yay, Caitlin!

  7. Mel says:

    Great conversations. Our best man (our oldest, dearest friend) is gay and when Mr 8 said boys at school call one another “gay” as an insult I said “Do you think Uncle G would think that ‘gay’ was an insult?” Mr 8 thought about it for 10 seconds and said “Nah, it’s actually quite cool!”.

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