19 June 2008

homophobia starts early

James got off the bus today and told me that one of his classmates and classmate's 4th-grade brother were teasing him on the bus, saying that James likes boys and James wants to marry a boy. James didn't seem too upset about it -- he said he told them it wasn't true, told them not to say it, but I don't think he got very angry about it.

But I'm angry. I can't believe that that's something six-year-olds are teasing each other about. First of all, all this talk about marriage in general among kindergarteners is unsettling -- how quickly do kids need to grow up these days? I hear far too much for my liking about which of the kids in James' class are "getting married." Yet already, at such young ages, these children are acutely aware that boys liking boys is something to tease about, something to shame another child for.

If it starts this early, how bad will it get as they get older? I made sure to point out to James that even if it were true, even if he liked boys, there's nothing wrong with that, but how do my reassurances stack up next to the taunting of his peers?

It makes me incredibly sad, actually. It makes me grateful that I've never had to face teasing over something as wonderful as love. It makes me worry about what my kids might face should one of them be gay. It makes me worry about my small voice versus the roar of society in their ears. It makes me fear that my kids may one day end up teasing other kids this way.

You know, I was so overjoyed about the recent California ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. But then something like this comes along, elementary children being already caught up in the prevailing negative attitudes about gay people, and it makes me realize just how far we have to go before it will really, truly not matter who you love.


melissa said...

That's a great post. Remember, no matter how loud peers' and societies' voices are, a mother's voice is lasting and never goes unheard.

Ren said...

That sucks, and unfortunately I think it gets worse as kids get older. I think the best thing you can do it to teach your kids to be confident about who they are and how to treat others, so that even if they face teasing they'll be able to bear it with dignity and treat others with the same respect you teach them to have for themselves.