1. Think back to being a child in your family.
- What was something wonderful about being a child in your family that you would like to pass on to your child?
Matt: We ate dinner as a family most nights. I would like to keep that going. My parents always asked about my day.
Brian: Family get-togethers (Christmas, Thanksgiving, summer family reunions) where all the grand-kids felt like they were the most important people in the world.
-What is something that you would not like to repeat with your child?
Matt: Drunken Thanksgiving get-togethers.
Brian: Having them go through Jr. High and High School ashamed of and hiding some aspect of themselves, whatever it might be. Of course, they may not even have this issue.
2. Your child is now 12 years old and asks that you stop ?acting gay? in front of their friends. They also request that you hid all gay or lesbian literature, posters, or anything else in your home that would perhaps lead their friends to think that you are gay or lesbian.
- What would you do or say? Is it ok to ?out? one?s children?
Matt: I would want to talk to my kid about it. I?d want to understand what their concerns were, and how they had arrived at the conclusion that being gay or lesbian is something that needs to be hidden away.
I think it is probably similar to any kid in a minority position wanting to cover up aspects of their life that are different from the norm. It reminds me of how I felt in GT programs as a kid.
Brian: I would try to use the opportunity to talk about issues of prejudice, racism, and bigotry and how much they hurt all the people involved. I would basically say that if we were to hide traces of our homosexuality that would be sending the message that there is something wrong with it, when there isn?t. Prejudice is painful and hurtful and unfair, but you don?t respond to it by hiding. I would try to find out the source of what is causing my child to act this way (his friends or classmates) and do my best to educate them and their parents. Maybe meet with them face-to-face so they could actually see the people they are degrading or are afraid of.
3. What might be advantages for children who are raised in lesbian or gay households?
Matt: Awareness of diversity about sexual orientation. No ?jesus? guilt trips. Sense of adventure, creativity. Not constrained by norms about what life should be. Two parents that really wanted to be your parents and entered into the parenting role very intentionally. You’d never wonder if you were an “accident.”
Brian: They will have a better understanding of prejudice and why it?s wrong. Just because people are different, doesn?t make them evil or worth less than others.
4. Your child is at summer day camp and decides to wear his name tag on the back (instead of the front) of his shirt. A Junior Counselor says ?Hey ? Don?t do That ? that makes you look gay!? The next day your child tells you about the incident. What do you do?
Matt: We?d talk about it. How did he feel when that was said? What did he feel like saying? I?d want my child to understand that sometimes people will say mean things to other people ? it might be about gender, race, orientation, social status, etc. I?d also want my kid to understand that the problem lies with the person saying such things. Hateful comments are a reflection of a person who says them, not the person they are directed to.
We?d explore various ways of conflict resolution ? pick your battles. Is it important? If so, how do you stand up for yourself without being defensive. Did the other person even realize that what they were saying was offensive? It?s a whole lot of talk.
Brian: Similar to #2, I would talk to the camp management and hopefully meet with the counselor that made the comment so they can see who we are and have a good reason not to use the word ?gay? in a negative context.