This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Homeschool Blogging Carnival hosted by Lisa at The Squishable Baby and Keisha at Unschooling Momma. This month our participants are talking about Multiculturalism.
When fear drives us to discriminate against another group of people – that perhaps we do not know or understand, it bothers me. It bothers me a lot. When we teach our children to fear things that are unknown or foreign, we are giving away opportunities to responsibly educate, to inform, and to fully develop the entire person. To me, this IS the power of homeschooling. We can take these opportunities to teach our children to be able to evaluate critically, be empathetic and think sensitively. Even though people are different, we can teach them to love diversity.
I received an email about a month ago, that has consumed my thoughts. This email left a very bad taste in my mouth – and I pondered hard on whether it was me being too sensitive. After a month of worry and research, this was my conclusion.
The state of Maryland has a law in the senate which would allow gender variant people use the bathroom that matches their gender of choice rather than their anatomical sex. Cleverly, this bill has been deemed the “Bathroom Bill”
Here was the first email that was sent out.
The initial email generated an email storm of about 6 other emails (roughly the same as this one). After reading all the emails, these are the thoughts that entered my mind.
- Why am I thinking so hard about such a random bill? Really? Who would think of such a thing? I wouldn’t. Certainly, there are more important things to legislate – like keeping psychopaths with guns out of schools.
- This email is blatant discrimination against a group of people nobody (or at least the author) neither knows about or understands (clearly). These issues are very complicated, and no – I cannot imagine a cross dresser would be the issue here – as they do not “feel” like they are the opposite sex. What’s the issue is a discrimination of Gender variant people. And to me, it’s blaring.
- If the law is indeed blocked, how is it enforced? Do you put a police officer at each bathroom in the state? Does he/she check IDs of anyone who “looks” gender variant? I don’t know, it seems like a slippery slope to me.
- If you look at the two highlighted parts of this email. In my opinion, these are methods for invoking anger and fear in the heart – about people we don’t even know about. Who wants to think about their daughter being raped or killed in a public bathroom? To associate gender variance with molester or murderer is a misinformed jump and completely baseless. If you think about it, you can replace those lines with anything, really.
- Who wants your daughter to be in the same room as a black man?
- Don’t allow your kids to be influenced by those fat people. Keep them separate.
- Those low-class kids will bring your children down. Do you want your children to learn less?
- The list can go on and on.
The Importance of Education
This could get blown way out of proportion. I got so mad, I drafted and email, just so the baseless and unnecessary email stream would stop. The importance of education is not only key, it’s essential.
I must admit, I know very little about the issues of gender variance. I don’t know anyone who is gender variant and my kids don’t play with any kids who would fit this profile (that I know of). Typically .when I don’t know something – I read a book or look on the internet.
I immediately looked to the book: The Transgender Child – A Resource for Families and Professionals.
This audiobook is part of the Mindful Nurturing Collection here.
Or you can buy it on the smaller Resources for Parents Mini-Bundle here.
This audio book gave me some excellent factual information – from experts and parents about the difference between cross dressers, gay/lesbian and transgender people. It talked a bit about the development of the child, the hardships, and the feelings. It was a really great resource for me as it answered my questions about whether I needed to be afraid.
There are a lot of Transgender resources on-line.
- Understanding Gender by The Gender Spectrum
- Resources for parents by Trans Youth Gender Allies
- News articles on gender variance
- Blog for parents of Transgender Children
Books for Children
I am/My family is different. Here are some picture book recommendations teaching children, or helping children understand about their personal feelings/situation.
- 10,000 Dresses written by Marcus Ewert – A tale about becoming the person you feel you are inside.
- Backwards Day Written by S. Bear Bergman – Set on Planet Tenlap where there are 17 seasons and bubblegum falls from the sky. Backwards day is one day where it’s okay for Andrea to turn into a boy.
- The Family Book by Todd Parr – A fun and colorful books about all the different families that exist.
- Best Best Colors/Los Mejores Colores by Eric Hoffman – Written in Spanish and Beautifully illustrated – with the help of his two moms, Nate learns that he can have more than one best color and one best friend.
- William’s Doll by Charlotte Zolotow – William wants a doll. It from the mouth of a stranger, that makes the people close to William understand.
- When Kathy is Keith by Wallace Wong – Tries to explain children’s feelings – and the negative reactions from others.
- The Sissy Duckling by Harvey Fierstein – A beautifully written, feel good book about embracing the special qualities that we all possess.
- My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis – a heartfelt story about unconditional love and one remarkable family.
What I recently learned from the last (and hopefully final) email, is that there was 1 case in Texas – a transgender or trans-dresser (not sure) who was a felon (had assaulted a girl 20 years prior) used the women’s bathroom and scared a woman in the bathroom. Apparently, she was frightened because he looked like a man. She reported the incident and he was charged with some minor crime.
Going though an exercise like this take a lot of effort and time, but out of it I came a more knowledgeable person who can make decisions based on “real fact” rather than some fabricated situation. If people would do this, we wouldn’t have some of the problems we have today. The Transgender issue was part of my life, but It could be about anything that concerns or worries you or your children. Mindlessly believing and passing along misinformation is dangerous and doesn’t help anybody.
So What Now?
I maintain my statement – that this is a dumb law – and it’s a bad use of time to try to block it. Regardless of my feelings, we must remember that we cannot make judgements about an entire group of people based on the actions of one person. We can’t do it. We shouldn’t do it.
I will abstain from signing this petition. My research has shown that this issue should be treated with tolerance. Both the author of the email and I prayed about the situation. I think we just pray for opposite results.
Have you had a situation where you have researched further and learned not to be afraid?
Visit The Squishable Baby to see how you can participate in the next Homeschool Blogging Carnival where we will be talking about Homeschool Mythsconceptions .
Please take the time to read the submissions by other Carnival participants:
- Keisha at Unschooling Momma will talk about Multiculturalism in the Home
- Lisa at The Squishable Baby Will talk about Hello Education – Goodbye Fear!.
- Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom Suggests great Asian American Books for Kids.
- Lydia Larae from Lydia’s Handmade Life will talk about Bilingual Learning.
- Shelly from There is No Place Like Home will talk about Multiculturalism is More Than Our Differences.
- Cordelia from Multilingual Mama will talk about how Multiculturalism is the Foundation of her Family’s Homeschool Education.