Parenting an LGBT Savvy Kid

On May 14, 2013 I signed my fifth-grade daughter out of school and drove to St. Paul, Minnesota so she could be part of history. Governor Mark Dayton signed the Marriage Equality bill into law. I met a friend there as well. She brought her six-year-old son for the same reason. This was history in the making and we wanted our kids to be there for this moment. This was big. We cheered and smiled and sat out in the super hot sun with sweat dripping down our backs, because this was important. Then we went downtown and celebrated. People were so happy.

I’ve made very conscious choices about talking to my child about the LGBT community and the unique struggles they face. We talked a lot about marriage equality this last year. I even had some friends confused as to why I was so passionate about this issue. I’m bisexual and I married a man, but if something ever happened to my husband, I would still want the right to marry someone if I fell in love again. That could easily be a woman. My daughter and I have talked a lot about the rights denied same-sex couples because of DOMA, and she even knows I write stories about men who fall in love with men. She knows some of my closest friends who are gay, lesbian, and bisexual. She knows what all that means. It’s not big deal to her. When she meets someone new, she asks if they have a boyfriend or a girlfriend rather than just assuming.

There has been a lot said about how same-sex relationships confuse children. They don’t. They really don’t if we just expose this reality to kids and then answer their questions. What confuses children is having the once-unwavering love of their parents suddenly pulled away from them because they love someone of the same gender. When my daughter heard that people did that, she was utterly shocked. Kids are also confused when their parents hate because of bigotry. That goes against most of what we teach our kids when they are young.

Much is made about parents needing to answer uncomfortable questions about LGBT couples. Guess what? That’s what we signed up for when we became a parent, and whether marriage equality had passed or not, children will still have those questions. It’s our job as parents to educate our children about the world, and one of the realities in this world is that LGBT people live here. Are gay men more likely to kiss out in public now than in the 1970s when I was a kid? Probably. Are lesbian women going to hold hands and hug each other where kids can see them? Yep. And I say good! I want my child to see this. I want my child to see that love comes in many different packages, and I want her to know she can talk to me about anything that she’s curious about. Anything!

What I find most offensive are the people who say marriage=procreation. As an adopted kid, I have just been devalued by that entire argument. My parents have been too. I don’t count in their eyes, but if I were to say that to these folks, they’d deny their argument applied to me because my parents weren’t a same-sex couple. Hypocrisy at its finest, I guess. And when hypocrisy is that blatant and that easily identified, you know the argument is false and drummed up rhetoric.

I don’t want my daughter to live in a cookie cutter world. I want her to be able to experience the entire rainbow because she will be a better person for it. She already is.

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