My response to someone who believes that early childhood centers should avoid the inclusion of books depicting gay or lesbian individuals such as same-sex partnered families would be very simple. I would explain to them that although I do understand their concern, they need not worry that this depiction would influence there child in any way. Just a Tina shared in her story in the multimedia program this week – her boys were not turned gay because she allowed them to wear slips. Thus, reading a book with a same sex family depicted would not influence a child in that way either. Further, I would explain that this is a learning opportunity for the child to see that many different types of families exist. They will surely meet diverse families within their life, I would ensure them that a depiction of a same sex partnered family within a book does not mean this issue would be discussed in great deal. Instead, I would encourage the family to use this as an opportunity to talk with their children about topics such as this within the home.
If I had a parent or family member who informed me they did not want anyone who was perceived homosexual or transgender to be caring for, educating, and or interacting with their child I would have to respond by starting a discussion with them on why they feel this way. Without understanding why they are feeling this way I cannot begin to discuss a different perspective. I would also use this time to help the parent or family member to see that through discussing such topics of concern with their child they can ensure that their child is not confused about any types of experiences they may have. I would try to explain that their fear is created from issues that are not discussed. I would use it as an opportunity to encourage the to discuss such issues with their children and allow their children to make their own decisions regarding the matter.
Last year one of the room parents for my kindergarten classroom was a dad of a student in my class. This particular parent was homosexual. He was a blessing to me over the year spending endless amounts of time cutting lamination, running copies, and doing prep work on projects so that I could focus all of my time and attention to teaching the children. At a couple of the school events I would overhear parents speaking to one another in front of my students on not wanting that “fag” or “gay man” around their child. As much as I hated times of confrontation I always stepped in and would first ask the parents to be mindful of what was being said in front of the children. I would then go on to try and engage in discussions with the parents on why they felt the way they did. I would always point out the wonderful things he did for the class and ensure them they had no thing to worry about in regards to safety or other concerns they may have. Even at the young age of 5 or 6 the children could easily take to heart what they overheard the parents saying about the room parent. They were old enough to recognize differences and had I not stepped in I fear they would have begun treating the room parents son differently based off of these overheard comments.
Through the last three weeks I have grown to understand that there is much to be valued in discussing issues of gender, sexuality, and race. I understand that some of these topics make people feel uncomfortable at times. To be completely honest, certain aspects of some of these topics still make me uncomfortable at times. Yet, I have learned over the last three weeks that this fear is stimulated from the need to discuss such topics. When these issues are discussed openly the fear tends to decrease immensely. Therefore, I am left with the desire to encourage others to take the time to discuss issues of concern with your children and family members By discussing such issues openly we can experience growth and greater understanding.