An open letter to parents…

The first post I saw on Facebook when I got up this morning was this screenshot of a little boy getting in trouble:

Facebook picture

There wasn’t a damn thing I could do as it was a screenshot posted into a group, which meant I didn’t know anyone involved. The picture has haunted me all day; the only thing I can do is write a letter and hope for the best.

 

Dear Parent,

Being a parent is the most rewarding, tiring, frustrating, infuriating, and glorious experience ever. You go into the hospital and after hours of hard work get handed this tiny pinkish bundle. Then you spend the next eighteen or so years raising that bundle into a mature and responsible adult. A lot of parenting ends up being a matter of personal choice. You pick where you’re going to live, the food you eat, religious beliefs, the clothes your child wears, and your basic philosophy in life. But there are some things you can’t chose. You can’t walk up to the doctor and request a tall, red haired, blue eyed baby for example. Some things you just have to accept.

I’m looking at your little boy’s sweet innocent face right now, all wide-eyed and uncertain, not knowing what he did wrong. Statistically speaking, chances are you’re raising a straight little boy, one who’s going to grow up and marry a woman. When you berate him for acting like a girl, you’re telling him that girls are less than boys… weaker… shameful. Is this the message you want to send about his someday bride-to-be? His sisters? His mother? If it’s shameful to act like a girl then it’s shameful to be a girl. That’s a horrible message to give any child.

There’s a good chance your little boy picked up that container of polish simply because he was curious. Little kids love to paint and are attracted to bright shiny colours; that polish was definitely both. Plus nail polish feels nice and cool as the brush slides across your fingernails. But there’s another possibility. Have you heard of pink boys? Pink boys are little boys who enjoy things that are aimed at little girls. They’re the little boys out walking their baby dolls in strollers and asking for Barbies for Christmas. They have Polly Pockets mixed in with their Lego and a small army of stuffed animals cascading across their beds. And statistically speaking, there’s a very good chance they’re going to grow up to be a member of the LGBTQ community. And there is nothing you can do to change this.

If you were told that your child had cancer and there was close to a 50% chance he could die, what would you do? I bet you’d do just about anything to save him. The suicide risk for transgender and gender nonconforming youths is around 47% (30 to 40% for LGB youths). If your child is gay, bisexual, or trans he is going to get bullied. He is going to have teachers, neighbours, and even random strangers make negative comments to him. He has a 1 in 6 chance of being beaten up to the point of needing medical attention. He doesn’t need to be a man, what he needs is you. He needs to know you are behind him ready to support him, ready to defend him if needed. You could end up being the person that keeps him alive.

I will do anything to keep my son alive. I will paint his nails, hug him while he wears a dress and tell him he looks pretty, dye his hair any colour he wants, and print out enough papers to decimate a small forest so his teachers have the information they need to teach him fairly. But that’s my son. Now the question is what are you going to do for yours?

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11 thoughts on “An open letter to parents…

  1. This reminds me of an incident I witnessed the other night at a Target store. Parents were shopping with their son for a new bike. He picked out a girl’s bike. They told him to pick a boy’s bike. He explained to them that he was attracted to the girl’s bikes and didn’t like any of the colors that the boy’s bikes came in. After much discussion dad decided they would move on to another store. My heart broke for that kid. I said nothing but I know that child’s pain firsthand. I wanted to say something but just don’t think it would’ve helped the situation.

  2. So well said.
    Of course, in this case the parents are likely to be part of the reason for attempting suicide. It’s not just something coming from others. Unfortunately.

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