By Lara Messersmith-Glavin (February 7, 2019)
Unless you are deliberately teaching your kids about race and gender and class and ability, unless you are actively countering the narratives they receive from every direction in this culture, then what you are really telling them is that racism, misogyny, heterosexism, class shaming, body shaming, and ableism are ok.
Straight parents—it isn’t enough that you are “cool” with gay people. You need to read books together that have queer characters and talk about all the forms families and loves can take. White parents—it isn’t enough to have a “black friend;” you have to sit with your white children and have hard conversations about privilege and white supremacy, in ways your kids can understand. Cis parents—it isn’t enough for you to be “ok with” my kid using gender neutral pronouns. You have to teach your kids that gender is a spectrum and a construct, that he and she aren’t the only options; when signs or toys say “boys” or “girls,” you need to call it out for the nonsense it is.
My kid comes home crying many days and hates school because they are constantly gender bullied for their hair or their color choices or their toys—by their friends. It’s not like a crew of mean kids rolls around and pulls this shit—it’s their best friends, and it’s daily, and I know for a fact that the parents of those children think they’re raising kids who get the concept of diversity. But they don’t. We need to try harder.
I can’t raise my kid alone. Every day, I release them into this gorgeous, shitty world, and I’m counting on you to do your part to make it better and safer, so all our kids have a chance to be seen and loved and heard and to feel like they have full access to their humanity without carving off all the beautiful parts that don’t fit in the tiny boxes our culture allows. It’s not enough for us to hold another world in our hearts—we’re here now. We have to make it here, now.