Kids In The Castro: Field Trip Follow Up!

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I love smart people. I love passionate people. I love rousing debate and I love the days we get all three, bonus if they come on the same posting. If those are the criteria for a good day than yesterday was a real winner.

I’m talking about the post I wrote about the second-graders at a private school in San Francisco, taking a field trip to the Castro, a historic, predominately gay and lesbian neighborhood. Needless to say it generated a lot of discussion.

If you have heard me say this before, humor me, I just want to reiterate my position for those who may be coming in midway through the movie. I have long maintained that being gay is not something one “chooses” to do. Good Lord, based on the way so many people still feel about homosexuality, why would someone voluntarily sign up for that? Rather I believe it is how you are born, hard-wired if you will. I don’t believe playing with trucks as a young girl makes you a lesbian anymore than playing with dolls makes you gay. I base that on what I have learned about homosexuality in school and in talking with gay and lesbian friends, who I am lucky to count among my good friends. It matters not to me who they sleep with, heck I can barely keep that straight in my own life (KIDDING!). It is with that matter of fact attitude that I approach all aspects of not just sexuality but life in general with my kids.

So last night, fresh off the back and forth of this debate, Cole came into my office/closet and sat down. Everyone was winding down for the night and that’s generally the best time to catch him, when he’s laid down his sword after a day of fighting the good fight and is ready for some quiet time.

“Cole, when was the first time you knew what gay was?” I asked him. He thought about it for a minute and said, “I guess in Mrs. Henry’s class.” Mrs. Henry was his second grade teacher.  So I asked him why he remembered that. It was the summer we had a barbeque and pool party. I invited a couple of people from work. A gay co-worker brought his partner with him.  Later, when the party was over, I explained to Cole that Robert and Jake were a couple, that they lived together and were a family. You know what Cole did? In his infinite wisdom, he asked if he could have more candy. Yep, that was it.

As one of our commenters said yesterday, he’s the parent and so he ultimately gets to decide what he deems appropriate for his child. And that is absolutely true. So if as that parent you don’t want your kid to go to the historic Castro district, exercise your right and don’t sign the permission slip. But my point is, it feels like the stuff that we as adults make such a big, hairy deal out of really turns out not to be when we explain it to our children in a calm and rational way.

That’s my take, but what do you think? When did your kids learn about sexuality and what did you tell them? Keep those comments coming everyone…

Rene Syler is a wife, mother, breast cancer advocate and television personality whose burning desire to tell the truth about modern motherhood led her to create GoodEnoughMother.com . When not spending time with her family or burning something for dinner, Rene travels the country as host of Sweet Retreats on The Live Well Network and Exhale on Aspire.

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