My ten year old daughter loves Dancing With the Stars. We DVR it every week, and if she's done well in school all week she gets to watch it Saturday morning.
This year she got to learn a few new words and phrases -- transsexual, transgender, sex change operation. To name a few. She also got to learn the difference between gay and transgender. Having Chaz Bono and Carson Kressley both on the show brought up some interesting discussions. I believe in being honest with my children (in an age appropriate way), and I prefer that I be the one to teach them about these sorts of things, instead of them having to learn this stuff from their friends.
I think my biggest surprise was in hearing from her about the conversations she had with her friends. It seems most of her friends were still being taught that these things are wrong, messed up, of the devil, etc. I told my daughter if someone feels strongly that they were born into the wrong kind of body then we should respect that. If they feel it strongly enough to go through what has to be really painful surgery, then it must be really important to them and we shouldn't make fun of them. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be what most of the other parents were telling their children.
My children go to an exceptional school. It's very hard to get children into this school. It has won several national awards. We regularly have people from other school systems around the country visiting, to see how we manage the things we manage. Several times a year we have people from Washington visit, to see if there is something they could learn from us that should be implemented nationwide. One of the things the school prides itself on is diversity -- when you go into the cafeteria you don't see all of the black kids at one table, the Asians at another table, the white kids at another table. They choose friends based on who they are on the inside and not on the color of their skin. The fat kids aren't treated differently than the skinny ones. The smart kids are just as valuable as the athletic kids. They are taught to value the person, to see the person on the inside.
And yet, I learned that we still have parents teaching their children that Chaz Bono is now an "it", and neither a "he" nor a "she". I guess my point here is that if our school, which I thought had such open and liberal views, is this closed minded, then how must the rest of society be thinking?
Am I more accepting of other people's differences because of my own? If I weren't a warped masochist, would I be more judgmental of others? I hope I'm teaching my children to be true to who they are, and to respect other people who are doing the same.
I thought our society was more accepting now than we were years ago, until I heard what the other ten and eleven year olds were being taught. I live in the south, in what is often called "the buckle of the bible belt". Maybe that has something to do with it. But still, I think our school likely represents the most liberal of us, and that's pretty disappointing.
I guess I'd gotten used to the views the people in my social circle have, and forgotten the rest of society doesn't think the way my immediate friends think.
Do you think that we, as a society, are heading towards acceptance?