Stella Young died unexpectedly last weekend at age 32. She was a comedian, journalist and advocate for rights for disabled. Here is her TED talk from Sydney in April this year. Her speech provides much food for thought, enjoy.
On freshly pressed right now is a post that is close to my heart. It is from the blog Raising My Rainbow. The woman who writes this blog, Lori, shares with her readers experiences of her family, especially around her “gender creative” son C.J.
What has gone down recently, and what has featured on freshly pressed, is that some parents at Lori’s son’s school have spoken up both at a PTA meeting and after the meeting, with some discriminatory, homophobic and transphobic statements around the rights of children to express their gender identity.
One particular issue revolves around children’s right to use the toilets of the gender they identify with, not necessarily the gender they were assigned at birth. Apparently C.J. has not been using girls toilets, this is a rumour. But, he has been bullied in the boys toilets by other boys who demand to see whether he has a penis or a vagina. Bullied in the toilets. And these parents speak like this at the PTA meeting. Perhaps the apples don’t fall far from the trees. What a battle this family and this school have with these parents.
There are a lot of poorly informed, under-empathetic and under-caring people in this world. For starters, these are children we are talking about. How messed up do we want our future generation to be? Let them just be children. Without all the adult negativity and prejudice, I bet these children would all play happily together, going to whatever toilet they choose. At my school, right next to my art room there are two toilets used by boys, girls, women, men. No, stop it, please. The world is going to end because we share toilets. There’s no intention there, it’s just how it ended up in the design of a new building, we have two unisex toilets at that end of the building. Children have an amazing ability to be flexible of mind and accepting of others. We shouldn’t kill this.
As a teacher in a primary school, I see children who show different degrees of gender identity. We have not had an experience like Lori is going through at our school yet, but I would like to think my school would be very accepting and work through the issues, with the child and all the children’s welfare in mind. I know that I, as a parent of a gay son and one more informed than the average person, will be there to share information and encourage understanding. However, I know parents can be extremely single minded when discussing issues, and that is a problem.
There is a lot to be gained from informing oneself before opening one’s mouth. This article from an Australian TV program called Four Corners is a perfect way to share stories of the children who struggle with their gender identity and acceptance in the world.
It is through these stories that people can access information, information that they do not necessarily access otherwise in their lives. Not yet anyway. Society, in varying degrees throughout, is just beginning to learn about LGBTI acceptance and equality. There are places where LGBTI issues are open and understood greatly, but I would not think that many suburban or rural primary or secondary schools (elementary or high schools) are there yet.
At the end of the day, these are our children, they are born with promise and a bright future, let’s look after them and keep it that way.
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