Category Archives: Parenting

Blacklisted

“I came out on Instagram,” She said. “Oh?” My casual reply to this type of admission within our household, especially from my thirteen year old daughter. Still, I had to pry a little further. 

“Sexuality?”

“No, No, Noooo…..” Chuckling now. “I posted that I was Atheist on my Bio.” 

This didn’t surprise me. Hell, I had discovered by the age of six that, try as I might, I was incapable of belief in a higher power, but that I had better play along, not just to keep the adults in my life happy, but to avoid being awarded the title “Devil Worshipper” in the small Bible Belt community where I grew up. After all, I went to Sunday school and church every Sunday, I could recite The Lord’s Prayer, I knew the Ten Commandments, and I had even memorized Psalms 100 in return for an irresistible candy whistle. Still, as I sat in the plush green pews Sunday after Sunday in beautiful dresses, I realized I was a fraud by participation; I didn’t belong. The individual inside me that was awakening did not agree with the harsh world that was being taught within these walls. I approached my parents to confess in different ways over the years, but doubt is easily written off in the church as work of the devil. In the deep south, the devil is tangible; a real force that moves about causing mayhem and wrecking lives. Teenage rebellion and rock music. The wrong crowd. That’s what this is about. 
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I asked of the Instagram Bio, “So what happened?” She plopped down next to me, unconcerned at this point, and sighed, “I lost some followers but gained a looot of hate.” She cracked a smile. Ah yes, I smiled back. I remember those days.

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A Bus Stop Conversation

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It’s not often I get a chance to chat with a fellow parent about sex education, but this morning was decidedly different. Here in our mega-hood, we have a collective bus stop at the end of the street, and all of us with elementary kids meet up each morning -bleary-eyed- with fresh coffee in hand. We regularly chat about dogs and other mundane topics, but this morning, another parent and I (we’ll call her Sherry), sparked up a conversation over her daughter’s shoes, which I had complimented. “They may not actually be appropriate for school since they light up,” Sherry looked skeptical, “but I think she can turn the lights off.” I remarked how the schools here in Virginia allow all sorts of things that my schools growing up back in Georgia never did. My admission seemed to pique her interest. “Like what?” She asked. I explained that my oldest daughter, the one with the pink and purple hair (unusual dye wasn’t allowed,for one) who’s in her last year of middle school, had recently been troubled by all of the rebel flag gear she’s seen this year, especially since the racially motivated murders of eight in Charleston, and the subsequent calls to remove the hateful banner from the Capitol grounds. My daughter returns home talking of all the “Heritage not Hate” filth she sees each day, online and at school, and my mind is blown; at least in part because at my middle or high school, both which sat roughly 60 miles north of Savannah, Georgia, such a display would have warranted a write-up and a ride home for a change of clothes. These kids don’t even understand what it is they’re advocating.

Still, Sherry seemed to be on a different quest. She awkwardly prompted me to name more things that were prohibited, but I couldn’t quite grasp what she was seeking. She kept mentioning that some “changes were coming down the pipe that would change a lot of things.” “Well, good,” I shrugged. Change is generally a good thing when it comes to racist assholes. That’s when she brought up Fairfax county and the transgender curriculum.
Ooooh, I see where this is going now. I needed desperately to refresh my memory on the particulars of the school board’s decision, but I decided to wing it for the moment. Sherry appeared afraid that the decision was headed to our Family Life Education program and that our precious children may possibly be exposed to the reality of people who are different. Worse, it seemed to escape her thoughts that one of our children could be different. She asked me about my oldest daughter, and when we started talking to her about “gay people.” I couldn’t really remember. It’s been such a long time, and such a normal part of our life  to talk about sex, alternative lifestyles, birth control, and safe sex, that I couldn’t even put my finger on an exact time.

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“Six?” I said. Not quite sure. Maybe younger. I explained that I didn’t want sex to be one of life’s big mysteries. Sex is why we’re all here. It drives much of what we do, and how and with whom we choose to spend our time. However, when in doubt, put up a flag. “We’re pretty progressive on these kinds of issues, so…” I trailed off as she waived my qualifier. I explained that my ultimate goal  is keep the lines of communication open regarding sex. Transgender curriculum is not going make the children of Fairfax County decide to be transgender. Imagine the power of American education if we believed all education to be as equally transformative? If you listen carefully, that is the real fear here. The thought seems to follow a pattern something like this:  If I talk openly with my daughter about sex, she’ll be a slut, and if my child is educated about homosexuality, she’ll become gay. If that’s the case, I’m more than willing to take my chances.

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