Could Have Been My Child

rainbow flower“But what am I?” Her eyes were glassy from unshed tears.

“You’re you. And you’re wonderful,” I tried to reassure her, but she saw the worry on my face.

My beautiful daughter: smart, compassionate, kind to all things living and not. Seriously, the kid bonded to pet rocks! And she never did fit in a box.

“There just isn’t a label for you yet,” I said as the letters of the current acronym went through my mind. None of those letters fit.

But she wanted a label. As much as she didn’t fit into boxes, she always wanted them. She would even ask me to create them for her. “Just tell me what to do,” she would say, even as a teenager.  I, however, was the worst parent for that request.

“I’ll help you find your way,” I would usually say. But this time I felt lost on how to do that. She was hurting, and I didn’t know how to help.

“I love you. We all love you.”

The words felt weak. Insufficient. How well would that love armor her against a world full of hate?

That was seven years ago, and my daughter travels the country, living life, lighting up the world the best she can. There’s still no perfect checkbox for her, but she has found a sense of belonging in other ways, and she makes the world a better place.

As I listened to Anderson Cooper recently read each name of those who died in Orlando, my fingernails cut into my clenched hands as I tried to stay as resolved as he was. With each name, I  thought, that could have been my child. I will hear these names. Then I saw the text message of one child to his mother. I had no words. Only emotions in a sea of synesthesia.

My heart turned to my school’s students. So many of our students are targeted – for their culture, or religion, or neurotype, or sexuality, or other reasons.  Each one is precious.  We open our arms to them and their families, and do what is within our power to help them find their way. And love them.  Always love them.

But I find myself wondering what more we could do.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”  ~ Fred Rogers

Patrick Stewart on Violence Against Women

I found this to be particularly touching because he refers to how he couldn’t do much to help his mother when he was only a child, but he can do what he can now. I remember lamenting to my grandmother (my mother’s mother) how I wish I had become stronger sooner. My mother passed at age 56. Also, as with Sir Patrick, at a young age I too became an “expert on the escalation of violence.” So what can we do? Grow, heal, and use our uniquely forged perspectives to grow and heal the world.

Elizabeth Smart: Abstinence Education Teaches Rape Victims They’re Worthless, Dirty, & Filthy.

This part of health education continues to be controversial, but regardless of personal views, this article raises some important points about empowerment.

Social psychologists and sexual abuse counselors agree that comprehensive sex education can help prevent sexual crimes. Teaching children about their bodies gives them the tools to describe acts of abuse without feeling as embarrassed or uncomfortable, and it also helps elevate their self-confidence and sense of bodily autonomy. A shame-based approach to genitalia and sexuality, on the other hand, sends kids the message that they can’t discuss or ask questions about any of those issues.

Read more.

Standing on the Side of Compassion, Love, & Logic

Jonathan Lovingly Taketh His Leave of David by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld

Jonathan Lovingly Taketh His Leave of David by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld

Watching the discussions, hearing concerns expressed, and I am often asked for details on why I land where I do regarding Marriage Equality.  Here are some points to consider:

Marriage being 1 man, 1 woman, and a “2000 year tradition”: In this country, this has been the legal status only since the mid 19th century. Many immigrants, and many people indigenous to this continent, were in marriages of more than two partners — usually polygamy.  Perspectives of homosexuality varied depending on the culture/religion of a particular group. And if you want to go back before this country, even before 2000 years, check out Ancient Greece — a society upon which many of our laws and values are founded.

Bible saying sodomy is a sin:  1) Most of the world isn’t Christian. 2) This form of sexual relations is not exclusive to homosexuals.  3) If the couple is Christian and believes this is a sin? Just like it is not the only option available to heterosexual couples, sexual intimacy can come in many forms for homosexual couples. Use your imagination.

Bible saying it is an abomination: 1) See #1 of above.  2) Go back to the earliest interpretations of Leviticus and you find different meanings.  Leviticus seems to be OCD — a don’t mix your peas with your mashed potatoes type of guy (thanks Cass for that analogy).  Leviticus is also adamant that you don’t wear clothes of mixed fibers. Now go check the tags in your wardrobe. The only thing clear about that passage is saying that you just don’t have relations the same way or in the same place — not that the relations themselves are a problem (those extra words such as “abomination” were added later by those wanting to force a particular interpretation).  Oh, and there’s even debate as to whether or not the passage was even talking about sex. Really.

Slippery slopes: 1) You do realize that this is a logical fallacy? 2) Marrying a fellow human being who is a consenting adult will not lead to marrying inanimate objects or other living creatures unable to give their consent — any more than current allowances to marry have already done.  3) Will marriage rights for same sex couples cause us to then reestablish legal rights to polyamorous relationships? This moves us from slippery slope to begging the question: does that matter?

Women having the right to own property (and thus not be destitute from a divorce); people being able to marry within their race; people allowed to marry outside of their ancestral ethnicity; and now people marrying partners of the same sex…. it appears that we continue to expand rights and freedoms with regard to marriage and could very likely continue to do so.

Marriage can have two parts: the legal contract, and a personal/spiritual/romantic component.  A marriage can exist with only one of either of these parts.  Atheists marry, people of many religious beliefs marry, and they might even use a word other than marriage, but marriage is happening regardless of the access to the legal contract portion.

So, with all of the above in mind, and even setting aside the emotional arguments, the only thing we are doing by *not* having marriage equality is telling one couple they can enjoy the benefit of certain details of their contract, while not allowing another couple access to the same benefits and protections from their contract.  The limitations are based on the sex of the contract partner, and as such is a form of sexual discrimination.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments regarding marriage equality. We cannot be sure on how they will rule, but even if they do not decide now to extend rights at a federal level, this will likely happen within the next generation or two.  Surveys are showing that over half of Americans favor marriage equality, and 80 percent of adults under 30 are fine with it, meaning their children will likely not see a problem with it either.  Unless something catastrophic happens, it is not a question of “if” but of “when.”