Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Lost The Battle

Here's an article I found, written by the mother of Tobi. At the time of the printing, the photo array was still going up. Now it isn't and I am extremely disappointed. Mostly in the adults, that in the interest of teaching their kids 'good Christian values' are creating the next generation of bigots and hypocrites. They clearly have missed the point of Jesus's teachings. How embarrassing for them.


Guest Viewpoint: Diversity message prevails

By Jennifer Meyer

We all want to protect our children from harm.

As good parents, we invest in locks and plugs to baby-proof our homes before our infants even are crawling. We hunch-walk behind teetering toddlers, acting as human bumpers against all things hard and sharp. We teach our schoolchildren not to talk to strangers. We warn our teenagers about alcohol and drugs. And we try not to obsess on the myriad ways our kids could get hurt, because we feel their pain tenfold.

Protecting our kids from awareness, though, is different.

Sure, we may postpone the day they learn the truth about Santa Claus or the tooth fairy. And maybe we turn off the news when it gets too grisly. The truth is, it’s a rough world out there, and it’s not easy to watch your child’s sanctuary of innocence crumble as awareness of the larger world sinks in.

But some of those harsh realities that parents want to protect their children from may not actually be so harsh.

Some parents at RainyTown Elementary School wanted to protect their children from a diversity photo exhibit that includes a transgender woman. They believed their children were too young to be exposed to the complicated issue of gender identity.

Is the issue of gender identity really something that children need to be shielded from until a certain age? It’s not as if kids don’t notice differences in people. “Mommy, that man doesn’t have any legs.” “Look how fat that woman is.” “Daddy, why is that man wearing a dress?”

With every shush-don’t-look response, we’re sending a message loud and clear: There’s something wrong with that person.

Why can’t we simply let our kids see the world around them as it is? There are people of different races, with different accents, body types and abilities. And there are some people who never quite fit into the gender they were born with.

What if we told our kids that being a boy or girl isn’t just about whether you’re born with a penis or a vagina? Would hordes of them suddenly decide they wanted to switch genders? Or would most just have a more open-minded approach to what it means to be male or female? And those few who were truly destined to be transgender could breathe a little easier, knowing that they weren’t all alone in this world, without options.

We all want to protect our children. From bigotry and slander, hate-mongering and character assassination. And yes, even threats of physical harm.

To the parents at RainyTown School who opposed this photo exhibit, let me say this: In your fervor to prevent your children’s awareness of gender variations, you have put my child at risk. The subject of that portrait in question is my daughter. I’m the photographer who took her photo, and I was the one who recommended her for the exhibit. It never occurred to me that her inclusion in the exhibit would cause such a stir.

In this country, an average of one transgender person is murdered every month. One-third of transgender people report being victims of a hate crime at least once in their lives. This exhibit was intended to break down some of the hatred and bigotry that fuels those crimes.

Instead, it has raised my daughter as a target. Not only has her private life become the subject of scrutiny and derision by RainyTown parents, but the incident has fanned the flames of intolerance from people who feed on such things. There are people who would like to see my daughter hurt.

The exhibit, including Tobi’s portrait, will be going back up at RainyTown Elementary, with the short biographies of each subject updated to be more kid-friendly. RainyTown’s principal, B.J. Blake, has been wonderful throughout this whole thing, standing by the true intention of the exhibit, insisting that “embracing diversity” is all-­inclusive. Many in the community have come forth to defend both the exhibit and Tobi’s good character. I’m grateful for that, and to live in a place as open-minded as RainyTown.

Now that this issue has been put to rest, I hope the hate-filled e-mails will cease. I also hope the negative messages embedded in this furor will fade, and that ultimately, the message of acceptance and inclusion prevails.

2 comments:

Enormous Plumes of Smoke said...

Doesn't this make you angry? I couldn't believe it when that letter came out about not putting the display back up. I think the biggest lesson here is to not post the full names of the people next time so the "crazys" don't go stalking the poor people in the display.
I bet I know who is stalking Tobi. Can we say crazy, overweight, flag-waving dad?

Expat Wannabe said...

Haha!! Waving a flag would require to much energy for that guy. He'd have to wait for a windy day so he wouldn't burn any precious calories.