Alex Blaze

Would somebody please think of the children?

Filed By Alex Blaze | May 07, 2008 3:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Chatham public schools, Pennsylvania, transgender

One of the silliest arguments that the Religious Right uses to keep us down is the "Children just can't deal with homosexuality/transsexuality/gay culture/drag queens/queer PDA at their age - their minds just aren't ready for it."

It's silly because it's simply untrue - kids just see it, and, like most things adults do, ignore it and integrate it into their idea of "normal." That's what the righters are really worried about - that kids will stop thinking of this whole thing as such a big deal.

So when this story broke about how a school near Philadelphia was going to have a convocation for all its third-graders to talk about transgender tolerance (there's a 9-year-old at that school who's trans), the same-old rhetoric began pouring out. But all it does is show that those adults are less ready for these discussions than their kids are.

Here are some responses from parents:

We have talked to many other parents in our class and all seem to have come to the same conclusion? Why is the school introducing this subject to 8 and 9 year olds ? Why were we not notified sooner. We received the letter today, the discussion at school is tomorrow. No consent form, no option to have our children not attend, nothing.

my kid would be home with me in protest !! this world is going to crap in a hand bag! Angry wtf wtf

Blanketing an entire class of 8 year olds with an incredibly adult and confusing subject with no parental buffer because 1 child may or may not be mistreated is every bit as irresponsible as you claim Annunciation would be by sweeping it under the rug.

And someone who sums up about half the comments on the thread:

In our society today, there seems to be an overwhelming need to educate our children on sex and/or sexual issues becfore they are MENTALLY able to handle it. I don't feel we are doing our children as a society any good by forcing them to wrap their minds around things that are way too complicated and confusing for young children to comprehend. The reason kids are "growing up too fast" is because we are letting them by involving them in adult topics. The reason why they are sexually active younger and younger is because they are exposed to these ideas younger and younger. It has been proven scientifically that girls are getting their periods younger because of all the sexual stimuli in their environment. You can't control everything your child sees and hears but you can put your foot down and JUST SAY NO to these topics being discussed before our children are really ready to hear it. Sex and sexual topics is not just about the physical but about the MENTAL READINESS of our children. I don't care how bright or "mature" you think your children are, they are still children and should be given the chance to be children.

I'm 90% sure that the educators at that school planned out the convocation so that it would be age appropriate. I doubt they're going to get into the in's and out's of gender and sexuality, but mainly tell the kids that it's OK for the transgirl to dress as she wants.

Lost on the Haverford community members who are up in arms about this is the fact that there's a transgirl who isn't being treated so well at their school and whether she's ready to be disparaged by her classmates (especially the kids of the parents who have the most problems with the transgirl). One parent points out:

I too am a Chatham parent-while I do not have a 3rd grader, I do know the child and family in question--I believe that as with all things at the district it was probably becoming an issue for the child and the child's classmates and therefore getting in the way of the daily classroom functioning so they decided to address it to neutralize any negativity. I doubt very much that any discussion will be beyond a basic acknowlegement of the situation and ways to become more tolerant and understanding of the differences between people.

Often when I'm in Paris I show off the gay PDA (when in Rome...) and the only stares I've gotten are from adults. The kids just ignore it and integrate it into another part of "what grown-ups do."

Because they're ready to learn here. I mean, they're already in school....

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younger is because they are exposed to these ideas younger and younger. It has been proven scientifically that girls are getting their periods younger because of all the sexual stimuli in their environment.

No, it has been scientifically suggested (not proven) that girls are getting their periods younger because of all the growth hormones in food these days.

Regardless, these are probably the same kind of parents who don't let their kids read Harry Potter because it will encourage them to practice witchcraft and worship Satan. (ooooooooo, scary!)

I don't recall my parents being informed of discussion topics at school when I was a kid. They were notified when lice was going around...or chicken pox. But I'm pretty sure there was no pre-notification that we were going to be LEARNING something. If you want that much control over what your kid learns then home-school them!

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 7, 2008 8:47 PM

Serena, I thought the early periods were from the preservatives in peanut butter? Or was it floride in the water? No, it must have been those black patent leather shoes. Thanks Alex, maybe next year I can read about Lord Voltemorte.

OK, without kids of my own, the difference in what I have observed in America and in Thailand with Europeans is striking! Parents do not mind sharing a Gay beach with small children. There is a damn family water park next to the Gay beach and it is hunky dory with everyone! I have yet to see a parent strike a child, they would consider it ignorant. Same with the Thai mothers in the shopping malls.

In America it is as though they want to teach shame to little boys and girls alike. I demand fitness testing before heterosexuals are allowed to reproduce!

See you at the next parents book burning and fish fry.

Boo to the Inquirer for using male pronouns, for one thing.

Good on Haverford for dealing with this but I'm afraid to scroll far enough down the Inky's page to see what the comments there look like. If that's what the local Haverford paper had, I hate to think what the larger Philly area had to say, speaking from experience.

I think you're right, though, that it's a fear of LGBTs being considered normal, and the RR know it. Hence all the focus on teaching (or not teaching) children at a young age. We know many adults lose their bigotry through experience, and with children it's even easier.

All I can really think of is South Pacific at times like this:

"You've got to be taught before it's too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You've got to be carefully taught"

I know the song is about racism, but I think it fits.

Redwoodguy | May 8, 2008 2:36 AM

Thank you Serena, Erin M. and all the rest of you wonderful folks who think that exposing children to the wonderful differences in who we may be is not something evil or to be scorned, but simply another interesting person in our/their universe. Having raised a wonderful biological daughter with my male partner, she reciprocated by becoming a great, open and accepting person who is stronger and wiser for understanding and accepting that it's not a person's sexuality by which they should be judged, but the content of their character. She is married, just made me a grandfather and all the more accepting and loving of folks not only sexually different, but religious, cultural, and philosophically different and embraces everybody for their differences as much as their similarities.
Our upcoming generation is one to be very proud of, they didn't have to work at accepting folks from all sorts of different backgrounds, but came to distinguish folks on how accepting, loving, open and honest they were, not hysteriical and unjustified beliefs based on a set of pronouncements and condemnations that have long outlived their usefulness.

Boo to the Inquirer for using male pronouns, for one thing.

Absolutely. I don't see what's so hard about using the correct pronouns.

I always get a kick out of those bemoaning how kids these days learn about sex so early. 13! 14! 12!! They seem to forget that a little over a hundred years ago, that was 'Get married and have a baby' age across the world.

There is a conundrum for the RR and some on the panel working on DSM-IV: Gender variant children who aren't permitted to transition over time often wind up with a heavy load of emotional baggage. Some don't survive puberty because they hate the changes their bodies are going through so much, they commit suicide. It happens. If they survive, they find transitioning much more expensive.
Gender variant children who are allowed to transition at an earlier age, and who are accepted by their families and schoolmates are happier and do much better in school.
The RR simply must learn that gender variance is a medical issue and not a moral one. I see nothing religious about encouraging the marginalization of a child which that leads to violence.

Please support TYFA. Please.

In the news this morning, I read how classmates of a trans teen are crossdressing in support of her! Plenty of kids have no problem getting it. Just the adults. Here's a couple of links to the story, as usual they're using the wrong pronouns.

KMFox9400 | May 8, 2008 10:03 AM

I have two comments from the "reformed breeder" perspective. Yes, I finally came out of the closet at age 46 and my spacious walk-in closet included a wife of 21 years and two wonderful children, not to mention the house in the burbs, cars, horses, dogs, cats, mortgages, health insurance and all the other civil rights and protections that straight marriage confers on confused and repressed guys like me. I don't regret my years playing on the other team but I'm happier now in the minor league. The players are scrappy, genuine and a more loving and care bunch.

My children were fortunate enough to attend a private school that celebrated diversity and as a consequence have grown into tolerant and caring young adults who understand that being different means being specia--not bad, sinful or something to be feared and therefore hated out of a sense of insecurity. Their experience in such a school environment helped them to celebrate their own unique characters and to succeed in ways that otherwise would have caused them failure. I think it has also helped them accept me and my lifestyle and has strengthened our relationship because it is now based on honesty and open mindedness rather than the middle-class materialist hetero god-fearing xenobic blueprint that saturates the lives of young children.

Growing up in the 60s in a western Pennsylvania suburb I was never exposed to the concept of "gay" until I was called a faggot at school and had to look that one up in the library. (Why ARE those boys calling me a bundle of sticks?) Gay wasn't covered in the filmstrip we saw at school in 5th grade because it had nothing to do with "where babies come from." And the big "talk" with Dad was actually exectuted by Mom--handing me a "where babies come from" book and telling me to read it and that if I had any questions I should just ask. Oh yeah, right!

How I wish that I had been invited to a convocation when I was eight or nine and brimming with questioning feelings but not yet MENTALLY (emphasis borrowed) capable of putting it into the words of a question. Perhaps if I had a caring and concerned community interested educating me about the whole wonderful spectrum of human sexuality I might not have spent a lifetime in self-doubt, confusion, self-denial, repression, depression, substance abuse and otherwise causing a lot of pain to family and friends when I blew my closet door off its hinges four years ago.

I'm better now. I've learned that we all come to know our selves in our own time and that it's better late than never. The earlier, though, that we learn about the full context of our identities the easier it becomes to form a strong and healthy character and isn't that what education should really be all about? I think the parents that are worried about their young children being exposed to ideas like diversity and mutual respect should consider that their opposition to this program has already exposed their children to far worse ideas like prejudice, repression, shame and, dare I say it, hate?

To: KMFox9400

Great posting! Thank you for sharing this with us.