Monday, 11 September 2017

Let's Talk Inclusivity

Deviating again this morning, somewhat, from my usual subjects - but I have seen two things on Twitter in the last 24 hours which I felt the need to address.

Firstly, someone I follow yesterday happened to Tweet that there was an open Baptism at the church he attends, and some of the attendees were sniggering and making fun of members of the congregation who were enjoying the hymns and worship.

Secondly, a lovely couple that I follow and admire SO much were mocked this morning for being openly affectionate with each other because they are a same sex couple.

Both of these things are not ok.

I am not a religious person, that's a whole other post for another time, so why do I feel outraged at the first incident?  Because it is disrespectful and there is no need for it.  There is no value to it.  It is not a case of a contrary opinion or belief voicing opinion, it is just nasty and unnecessary.

Secondly, I am not a lesbian.  Does that mean I should care or consider LGBT rights any differently or less than my own?  A world of no.  Again, there is no need for this incident to have taken place.  It is the same - nasty, disrespectful and unnecessary.

So this draws me back to my wonderful kids and another of the plethora of reasons why I Home Educate them.  I am often asked if I am shielding them from the world, being over-protective.  Far from it.  My kids see the world in all it's glory and all it's horror.  We talk about terrorism, racism, the atomic bomb.  We talk about the clouds, rainbows, birds, beauty and what we like about other people.

And two incidents stick out in my mind this morning.  

Firstly, with regards to religion.  We do not attend church.  The children go to a fortnightly social club at a church local to us, where they do learn Bible stories and so forth, and they go voluntarily because they enjoy it.  My son has a steadfast, unshakeable, absolute faith in God.  My daughter is more questioning and wants to know the answers to the universe - to learn about all different religions and cultures and science.  We do both, because both approaches are fine by me.  Because what I want is to raise respectful, inquisitive, inclusive, accepting children who will become the same as adults.  

There is often a lady that preaches alone in our town.  She stands and sings and talks about God and forgiveness and love.  She stands alone.  And we are frequently shocked at how openly people mock and abuse her for doing so.  But week after week she returns.  And my children always say hello to her.  My daughter tells her she is brave and lovely for singing.  And they respect the fact that she is sharing her views.  My son is upset when he sees people abusing her.  And I am thankful for that. That he has a fire in his soul and a passion against injustice. 

Secondly, with regards to diversity.  When my daughter was in school, she came home one afternoon, aged 6 and pointed her second finger at me.  "Is this swearing Mum?" she asked.   I presumed what had happened was that someone had flipped her the bird, and she was trying to communicate this to me.  So we sat and had a chat about what had happened.

Apparently, a girl in her class (who I knew all-too-well by then!) had been copying her spellings.  This time my daughter refused to let her.  Her response, at SIX YEARS OLD, was to flip my daughter the bird and call her "gay".

For a moment I had no words - the anger just surged inside me.

I was angry about the swearing, but so much more I was angry about the use of the word "Gay" as an insult.  So firstly, I rang the school - and went bat sh*t crazy!  A six year old child, using the word gay as an insult??  This needed to be recorded, and dealt with asap I said.  There will be children in that class who are gay, who already know they are gay, and will have heard that prejudice from a child so young.  The teacher defended the child, surely she didn't know or understand what she was saying.  That's as may be, but she understood that from somewhere she has learnt that it is an insult, a slur, to call someone gay.  And that's not ok.  And she needs to be told that's not ok.

Then I sat and talked with my daughter.  She did not understand what the word gay meant - because I had never felt the need to address it.  So I explained that it meant you love people of the same sex as you, boys and boys, girls and girls. 

"Oh" she shrugged. "Like Uncle H and Uncle A and Auntie E and Auntie J and......." and proceeded to reel of a list of gay and lesbian friends of mine, of ours. 

Yes hun.  Exactly that.

"I don't get it Mum" she said "why's that an insult?"

That's the point baby, it's not. But from ignorance some people think it is.  Simply because there are less gay people than straight people, therefore some people think because it is different to them it is in some way less.

"That's stupid" she said.

Yes baby, it is.  And you are six.  And you already knew this.  And you already accepted all people in love, as they have been presented to you.

And had I taught her this?

Not specifically.  We had never sat down with "I have two Daddys" books or "Mum & Mummy & Me"  but just because our lives reflect inclusivity.  And naively I was shocked that some other people's don't - still. 

So how exactly, I wonder, am I shielding her from the world?   From bigotry, racism, bullying, hate - yes I am happy to shield her from those things, for as long as I am able to do so.  And to teach her to be steadfast in her beliefs, in her acceptance and in her love.  So that she is ready to stand against them as she encounters them. And she is, and she does, frequently!

So we continue to go in to the world, open hearted and accepting.  Do people hurt us?  Yes.  The world can be a sh*tty place, there's no denying that.  There's plenty of wolves at the door who are waiting to take advantage of kindness.  But should we let it change us?  Stop being kind?  Withold our acceptance? 

No. Because Mummy teaches them also to be strong.  That we will walk the same streets regardless of whether we are looking at the gutter or up at the sun.  So best to hold our heads high, keep our gaze straight and smile.  And be kind.  I really don't get what's so difficult about that? 


No comments:

Post a Comment