School started last Tuesday. My kids had been out of school for 82 days — not that I was counting – and they were antsy to go back. With Chase starting fifth grade and C.J. starting first grade, I have reached the momentous mommy milestone of having all of my children in full-day school.
I got them both to where they needed to be on the morning of September 10 and rushed back home to park myself on the couch under a blanket to catch up on reality TV, while obsessively and repetitively checking email and Facebook on my laptop and Instagram and Pinterest on my phone. Because that, my friends, is how I relax.
As I got myself situated on the sofa the silence of the house caught my attention. It was quiet. Really quiet. The sounds of summer were gone. I got halfway through one episode of Teen Mom 3 and I had a bad feeling. What if, at that very moment, someone was trying to dull C.J.’s sparkle? What if he was being teased for his rainbow-leopard-print backpack? What if he was being teased for his pink, heart-covered lunchbox? What if he was being teased for his hair that is growing out? What if? What if? What if? I couldn’t concentrate on mindless TV. Ugh!
I thought of that morning. I followed behind Chase as he walked onto campus. He was high-fiving people through the hallways and reinforcing why we call him “The Mayor.” He knows everybody and is full of a confidence that is more kind and innocent than cocky. He’s just a great, happy, friendly person.
Thirty minutes later we were at C.J.’s school and he was holding onto my hand for dear life. The transition from kindergarten to first grade is a big deal. Gone are the half-day of instruction, private playground, protective atmosphere and kids and parents who know C.J. is, well, C.J. This year he has to stand in line on the playground with 1,150 other first through sixth graders waiting for the bell to ring. He was overwhelmed. Understandably so.
When I picked C.J. up from school, his teacher had the class in a single file line and was dismissing one student at a time. I could see C.J. at the back of the line. He looked up at me and then immediately looked down. He was fighting back tears. I started to do the same.
When he got to me, I asked him how his day was.
“Fine,” he said as we walked. He was lying. We got into the car and the tears spilled down his cheeks.
“What’s wrong, baby?” I asked.
“I spent all day afraid that the big kids were going to tease me cause they don’t know that I’m gender nonconforming yet. And, it was the longest day ever. I’m tired. First grade is way too long,” he explained.
“Who did you sit with at lunch?”
“I sat at the boys’ table and it was so boring.” There are not boys’ tables and girls’ tables at lunch, that’s just naturally how the kids divide.
“How come you didn’t sit with your girl friends?” I asked. C.J. only has girl friends.
“Because I didn’t want the bigger boys to tease me.”
“Did the boys say anything about your lunchbox?” I asked. He’d been not so patiently waiting to use it for weeks.
“I didn’t carry it to the lunch tables. I took all of my food out and carried it in my hands to the tables so that nobody would see my lunchbox.”
My heart broke as I envisioned him trying to carry a sandwich, juice box, chips, granola bar and sliced fruit to the lunch tables on the other side of campus.
We role-played that night during bath time.
“What if someone said ‘why do you have a girls lunchbox?’” I asked.
“I’d say because that’s my style and everyone can have their own style,” he replied not missing a beat and sounding like he really believed his own words.
“See! You’re great! That’s what you would say!” I encouraged him.
“It’s harder when it’s really happening,” he said looking down. I couldn’t argue with that.
I offered to go get him a new lunchbox. He didn’t want to. He likes his pink lunchbox. But, the next day he took his lunch in a brown paper bag. And, he has everyday since.
That was Tuesday. Day One.
On Wednesday, Chase came home and said that he needed to talk to me privately.
“A kid in my class made a racist remark at the lunch tables and I told him that it wasn’t very nice, especially since there was a person of color at the table. Then the same kid used the word ‘gay’ in the bad way and I told him not to do that because it’s rude and because my uncle is gay and my brother is gender nonconforming. He said that being gay is sick and bad and wrong. He said that I’m not a good Christian if I like gay people. It’s all really been bothering me,” Chase said.
He stared at me. I stared back at him, trying to keep my immediate reactions from flying out of my mouth.
“Wow. Okay. So that all happened,” I said as he continued to stare at me. I swear, I cannot get away from gender and sexuality issues. Even when I’m just trying to hide in my house and stare at three screens simultaneously, my kids are out in the world experiencing things that aren’t okay.
“Well, baby, above all else, God said to love others and not judge, so you should tell that kid to focus on that. Besides, he made a big assumption that everybody is the same religion. Then, maybe you two should agree to disagree. Not all kids your age have the same opinions and worldviews as you do. A lot of them don’t know about the struggle for LGBTQ equality yet. I bet that kid has never even met a gay person. You’re a little more worldly in that regard.” I was making it all up as I went along.
On Thursday, pretty much the exact same conversation took place at lunchtime with two other kids joining in to tell Chase that being gay is sick, bad, wrong and gross and against God, Jesus and the Bible. They said that we are a bad family.
I emailed the teacher and principal.
Then, on Friday, C.J. got was upset that a girl from his class told him that his backpack is for girls.
“I told her that it wasn’t, that backpacks are for everybody and that is just my style.”
He was proud of himself. He was smiling.
“What did she say?”
“She said I was a liar and that it’s only for girls and I can’t carry it.”
“Backpacks are for anyone who has a back and needs a pack,” I said, shaking my head in pure exhaustion.
The first four days of school. My youngest is afraid of getting teased at lunch, while my oldest is actually getting teased at lunch. I’ve already had to be in contact with two principals, two teachers and one vice principal. We’ve already been called a bad family. And, I’m still not caught up on my reality television shows. This should be an interesting school year.
It is about time that the world embraced ALL people. C.J. is one of the pioneers of his time.. Someday he will look back on these days with wonder that anyone thought anything at all. The world IS changing.. Way to slowly but it is changing…I hope that C.J. never backs down to conform to what other people THINK he should be… Thank you for being the great Mom that you are.. There are many children out there who wish for Moms like you. who are being forced into conformity to the detriment of the child.. They grow up, and leave their families behind. to FINALLY be able to be themselves…Glad that C.J. does NOT have to do that.
Thank you, thank you. Reading your book is like reading my grandson’s life. He is now 4 and has a large collection on Barbies, wears PJ’s on his head and tosses it around like hair, loves bright colors and fabrics, and wants his room painted pink and purple. We love him and know that he is our special child.
I have been reading your column now almost from the inception, following your family’s trials and tribulations joys and heartaches, fears and fearlessness. Y’all are an inspiration for individual freedom and expression in a culture where that is the ideal, yet all work so hard to extinguish that for everybody. I am aware of these injustices and strive to support everybody in their own way of being as a result of what you’ve written.
I have come to the conclusion that we’re looking at this backwards. Gender non conformance, dysphoria or merely being different is NOT a psychological disorder or condition but the emotional distress caused by others is certainly worthy of counseling and support. Therefore, it is my opinion that the identification of the bullies, the haters et all should be classified as anti social behavioral disorders as early as possible so THEY can get help as early as possible. That makes more sense to me than the other way around. Just because you function well in an insane norm does not mean you are not crazy.
The ones that promote hate, violence on others etc are the real ones with a disorder, not the ones who do nothing to hurt another for what they do as an individual.
Just recently, Ole Miss football players, mostly black fellows, heckled and promoted hate in a crowd against a gay themed theatrical performance on campus. Yet just a short time ago, these same guys wouldn’t have been able to attend that university much less be accoladed as athletic representatives of the school. Anybody see the irony in that???
I don’t know how I found your blog, but I’m so glad that I did! My 17 year old daughter came out as lesbian to us when she was 15. We already knew. We had known since she was 3….or at least thought “maybe”. What we did NOT know, was the bullying and humiliation she had lived through (barely) in elementary school and most of middle school. I look forward to following you on your journey with your young children. Hang in there! It actually does get better in high school. Well…in most aspects anyway. World views are changing. In fact, hopefully, you won’t be emailing principals and such by the time your boys are in middle school. I haven’t caught up to where you live, but we are in a very conservative state, and yet there is absolutely no tolerance for bullying, gender bashing, LGBT bashing, etc. I hope you encounter the same. Thanks again for your bravery!
Just remember that even though this is hard, gender-nonconforming kids have it easier these days. There are kids coming out and being themselves earlier and earlier. When they get to high school, they will probably find some support among the other students there, and hopefully the school administrations will prepare themselves.
It shouldn’t have to be said (because all parents should support their children), but you are so amazing and wonderful to support C. J. the way you do. As a trans and gay person with hateful parents, I have found that every time I read about or encounter a parent who is loving towards their LGBTQ child, that chips away some of the damage. It might take more than a thousand loving parents to mend the damage of two hateful ones, so the more there are, the better. Thank you for being so good to him while also reaching out to other parents who want to be good parents to their little rainbows but who don’t know how.
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Lori, I am so sorry to hear about Chase and CJ’s problems at school. Sadly this gets harder as they grow up- I am the legal custodian of a “gender creative” adorable 6th grader.
It is my hope and prayer that they have the strength to continue to stand up for themselves and not bow to bullying.
If the bullying continues and you do not get as much support as you have from CJ’s previous teachers or school administration, you may want to consider switching CJ to a private, non religious school where uniforms are required. He can still be his sparkly creative self in more subtle ways, but as uniforms are enforced for everyone it does help promote a sense of equality- whether it is between social status, gender identity, etc. I had to do this for my stepson, who is age 13 now (he was held back two years bc of “emotional immaturity” at his previous school and due to the constant worry about teasing, his grades were lower than his ability. He is thriving at his new school- and is currently rocking a purple and grey plaid booksack and a silver lunchbox with his monogrammed in purple to match and has not had any problems with teasing. We are one month into our school year and things are great!) Our school has an very tough no-bullying policy bc of the mix of students- many Jewish children, some Catholic, some Protestant, all awesome- and if there were a debate about whether “Jesus hates gays” the children who started it would be in hot water indeed!
Again… this is a last resort measure, and can be costly (tuition for M’s school is around 14k/yr) but it was oh-so-worth-it. I hope you don’t have to resort to this as I have, but it may be something you want to consider if the bullying doesn’t abate. This is just from my personal experience and may not be best for you- it is what has worked for me.
Best wishes for a better school year and more understanding between peers. My heart breaks especially for Chase.
Btw this is my first time commenting but I have followed your blow since Jan ’12. I’m currently reading your book and am thoroughly enjoying it.
I’m sorry hon. School can be a very hard experience. I hope that you and C.J. have a better experience soon. I am praying for your family. Make sure that you keep telling him that his backpack and lunchbox are fine.
Keep fighting the good fight! School can be so tough. I’m a nanny for a 1st grade boy who is gender conforming, but his family doesn’t push gender roles and he has a little sister, so he likes what he likes- sports, cars, legos, purple things, and playing with princesses (especially with his sister). He’s just a sweet, well rounded kid. And even this gender conforming child comes home with stories about how “purple is only for girls” and “why do you watch princess movies- those are for girls” and all sorts of things. I coach him about how all colors are for everyone, all toys are for everyone, and anyone who says otherwise is just plain ridiculous. What’s important, and wonderful, is that your boys have a safe home where they can come to you and tell you everything that’s happening. At the end of the day, they go home to a loving, trusting, open family. Everything else, they WILL get through. Keep doing what you’re doing and making sure that when your boys think about who they are, they here your loving words in their heads instead of the judging ones from some of the kids at school.
Wow, very powerful and timely. I just watched Becoming Chaz on Netflix last night. My 8 year old daughter walked in and asked what I was watching and I explained it to her in my best 8 year old language. She didn’t say it was “weird” like I thought she would, just that it must feel sad to be in a body you’re not supposed to be in. If only the kids at your kids’ school felt that way, things may be easier for them.
How frustrating. I hope things get easier as the year goes on.
I was browsing through the TV guide and decided to read the description of a daytime talk show, and noticed it mentioned a story that reminded me of CJ. I was shocked to see who it really was!!! You have a beautiful family, and the story brought me to tears of joy and sadness.
I’ve been reading for a long time, so I felt like an old friend had made it on TV and kept shrieking, “It’s CJ’s mom!” (Is that weird? I’m so sorry! Haha.)
I’ve missed your last few posts due to some personal health problems, but I’ll go check to see what I’ve been missing. I wish you and your family the best.
As always, you are doing an AMAZING job.
My heart goes out to your family.
Kids can be so mean and not even know why, and I’m so sorry you and your kids are having to field all this ignorance.
I want to have greater hope that the coming generation will be more accepting and enlightened, but when we have weeks like you’ve had all i feel is despair. I fear for my son every moment that he is not with me. We just have to keep loving and hoping and working, i guess. Here’s to better days ahead.
Wow. Hang in there. Our little pink-loving guy starts kindergarten in public school next year and this all makes me very sad and scared. But we’ll deal with it. I bought your book (and read your book and LOVED your book), so I know that you are aware of the legal options. I suspect it will end up there before it gets better – there is only so much two little boys and their parents can do (and only so much they should have to do) to change the culture of the entire school.
First, I was going to echo everyone’s comments and say that my heart breaks for you when I read how school has been so far. But then I decided that my heart isn’t breaking for you. You GOT this. My heart is breaking for all the parents of those sh*#ty kids who are saying mean things and have already been raised to be so judgmental, mean, and intolerant. All those kids who have already been taught that religion is about hate. My heart is breaking for them and their parents. You are going to have tough time, but you are loving, and open, and strong, and your kids are going to grow up to be amazing people. And maybe, just maybe, the words your kids say to these other hateful kids will sink in for just one of them and they’ll have a chance to grow into a great adult too. I can only hope.
man, I hear you Jessica. if I found out one of my kids was saying stuff like this, especially in the name of being cool or fitting in with the herd, there’d be sll sorts of new discussion around my house! that is something I will and do NOT tolerate.
I’m sitting here so choked up for your family, and at the same time wanting to go and choke the families who are teaching other children that saying such cruel, unkind things to another human being is okay, EVER.
I honestly don’t know if it would help, but I thought I could share a story about kids treating each other well in these situations, too. Sometimes when this sort of thing happens, I find it hard not to feel like the entire world isn’t like this, you know?
I belong to a homeschooling group on the west coast. Last year, one of the teens took a deep breath and finally told his mom: I’m not a girl, mom. I feel like a boy; I always have. His parents are a great couple and accepted that, and then they and their son went to a wonderful counselor and their son is currently living as a boy and contemplating whether or not to have any physical changes done.
When the parents sat down with the other homeschooling parents to tell them about the change, and their son, and what he wanted to be called, the response was, in essence: sure. No problem. If that’s who he is, that’s who he is. He’s a great kid, either way. Some of these folks have strong religious beliefs, some don’t, and they all had about the same response.
When the other teens and kids were told the name that the boy wishes to be called now, and what was going on, their response was pretty much: sure. No problem. We’re friends with YOU, not with what sex you are.
When his girlfriend, who had been dating him before he ever expressed his sexuality openly, was told, her response was: I’m in love with you, not what sex you are.
It has been SUCH a wonderful, positive example of people who, I guess I’d say ‘get it.’ That PEOPLE are important, not stereotypes or social norms. I’m sure that not everything was as nice as I’ve seen – people seem to keep some nastiness hidden when they don’t feel that it’ll be accepted. But it breaks my heart to see your family have to go through this crud; I just hope knowing that sometimes people react in really good ways might help give some hope for the future, maybe.
Wishing you and yours strength and the company of people who lift your spirits.
This post makes me want to cry! 😥 Even though I got teased in school at C.J.’s age and way past Chase’s age, I still can’t believe how horrible other children are to those who are different. I’m proud of Chase and C.J. for standing up for themselves, but I just hate that y’all have to go through this. Lots of hugs and love from Florida! ❤
Lori – Heartbreaking to learn that your children have to deal with these challenges at such an early age, and yet uplifting that they are strong in who they are. You are doing an incredible job. The world needs more parents like you!
CJ and Chase – Stay strong in who you are. You are learning some of life’s hardest lessons much too early, but rest assured you will become stronger because of it.
CJ – Sparkle Strong!!!
Chase -Stand strong, and arm yourself with information and knowledge – you already know what is right!
I pray that the school administration address these issues for you.
Hi Lori! I have been catching up on your book tour appearances and have to say it is really nice to put faces to the stories you have a beautiful family. I think you and your husband are amazing for letting your child be free and unafraid of who he is, what is important is that your child knows who he is always and that societies rules do not discourage him from that. It makes me sad that CJ tends to hold back I think that he puts his interests on hold for a public that has not evolved into this free thinking that people don’t belong in certain boxes when it comes to what is appealing to us (what makes us the same is the biological stuff that categorizes us as male or female) but we should be able to like in CJs case play with a doll without a monkey on our back. I commend you two as parents others can look to for wisdom and CJ’s big bro Chase for being a great brother. I think you are all doing what is right for your family and most importantly for your children. Hugs!
Chase, your are a great big brother and a fine young man. Never let those kids get you down. CJ, you are a wonderful and creative kid. Do not let the other boys make you change you. Take your lunchbox proudly to lunch and sit with your girl friends. Lori, you and Max are raising two wonderful boys. Max, your recent post was great. Every boy should have such an accepting dad. That your nightmare was that CJ would begin acting like Chase and most boys shows how wonderful you are.
Oh, I feel so much for your family. I sincerely hope the school year gets better. I live in the same county as you and I had some people from the county do a special LBGT training for my child’s elementary school in August. It has made the difference between this year and last night and day. So far, no teasing or issues for either my gender non-conforming child or his siblings. Anyhow, I don’t want to out your location but, if you would like that county agency’s info, feel free to send me a message. Also, my own sparkly boy wants CJ to know that he is SO jealous of his backpack! Mine picked a Hello Kitty backpack, but he loves CJ’s rainbow leopard print one. 🙂
Please thank your kids for being warriors for every other kid out there that’s a little bit different.
I thank you for being EXACTLY the kind of Christians who focus on God’s love for each of us, rather than divisive words of mere men.
Bless you all, and keep up the good fight!
You have my support, Lori. I am living a very similar life, only my older child is a girl in high school, detached from most of it at this point.
this story is very touching! coming from all the way in the bahamas, i think you do an amazing job of raising your kids to not just view the world with criticism and hate but rather with non-judgement and love. tell CJ he is a fantastic kid just the way he is sparkly backpacks or pink lunch boxes will not or never will determine who he is. i pray a day when all human beings can be respectful of each other for who they are instead of who they date or for there skin color
I just saw your story on a tv program. I am so happy that you and your husband shared your story. There are other people going through the same things and I feel you have helped so much. Thank you for sharing and I wish you and your family the best. People can be so mean but with a tight understanding family dynamtic you all will make it. God bless and Take care.
Oh, Lori, my heart broke into a thousand pieces as I read this post. I must say it was the hardest and saddest post you’ve written so far (while, as a writer, I have to compliment you on how opened and sincere you sounded).
Like many here, I’ve been following your blog for almost two years now but rarely comment. I felt the need, though, to comment on this one as a way to somehow give you strength to face the difficulties that seem to be coming. And good luck, too, because it’s never bad to be lucky.
Just reassuring you that you are a great mom and you and Matt are doing an amazing job parenting Chase and C.J. It’s a shame those kids teasing Chase aren’t as lucky as him in this sense.
Good luck and we – your readers – will be here whenever you need us.
First of all HIIIIiii Lori, and I saw you today on Dr’s Show, you guys impressed me on how such a wonderful parents you are cj is blessed to have parents that actually know the meaning of UNCONDITIONAL LOVE♥!! And about the blog, It breaks my heart for C.J going through all that teasing with other kids in school 😦 Its the parents of the children to blame because us parents should teach our kids to respect others no matter what the differences might be,.. I have an older sister that at a young age she liked dressing like a boy and my mom was surprised at first but her love for her child was stronger she supported my sister all the way and now my sister is 26yrs old and is happy being gay and to this point she thanks my mommy for supporting her through it all because it gets more difficult in the junior & highschool age..even I supported my sister at a young age. In my school kids would tease me because of my sisters preference in boy clothes, I remember I would always defend her no matter what! Now that I have children they know about the subject real well, they know im also here for them no matter what after all thats what I call “UNCONDITIONAL LOVE ♡♥ if you dont know how to love like that then I feel sorry for you, because thats the most purest love you can ever give your child! ^.^ ♥
Much love & more blessing sending your way from Oklahoma♥♡
I don’t have kids yet, but this, these experiences that they could potentially have to deal with are terrifying to me. Makes me mad too. At what, or whom, I’m not quite sure. I can’t imagine the emotions I would feel if I was in your shoes, or your kids’ shoes. But it’s times like these that makes me want to home school my future kids, and be very picky about the after school activities they do and who their friends are. Though, I know that then they wouldn’t get the opportunity to stand up and defend like Chase did.
Nothing is easy in the world it seems, but I think you are doing a wonderful job and saying all the right things to try and help your kids through tough experiences of life in new grades, new schools, and life in general. Here’s to hoping that all the kids get past the initial “getting to know you section” and find who they can trust, be friends with, and be themselves.
Those kids are lucky to have such a positive upbringing. They are our future.
This brought tears to my eyes. These are things that all parents are afraid of for their children every day. We are afraid of how our little one will be treated because she has two moms.
Where do you live and what are the laws there? Hope this year gets better for you! Laurie, Attleboro, ma
I hate what is happening in this story, but have a hard time believing it. I was in kindergarten 30 years ago in the south and fourth grade 25 years ago and never experienced any of this. While i can say without a doubt, the parents of my peers, harbored racist, bigoted and sexist opinions it didn’t carry over to the children yet. A pink lunchbox may have been met with some ridicule, but most of the kids knew any lunchbox was fortunate and more likely appreciated over the brown bag that was mentioned. Class has always been a divisive factor that exists to this day and overlooked
Oh, C.J. These are huge, serious, adult problems — I’m in my twenties and I still worry about how much to self-censor, how people might react, how I might react to their reactions, not because I’m not proud to be a member of the LGBTQ community but because sometimes there can be very real consequences, and because sometimes you just get tired of the little things, the looks or comments or whispers. I know exactly how it feels, and it’s bad enough as an adult. It is a very big burden for a child to carry.
But one day, C.J., you are going to find fellow gender nonconforming kids, and queer and trans kids who may or may not be gender nonconforming but who will absolutely know what it’s like to hide yourself in fear. Everyone who has ever been closeted has a “lunchbox” story of sorts, a story of some fairly ridiculous thing they did because they were afraid of outing themselves. When Larry Kramer and his gay activist friends were advertising charity fundraisers in the early days of the AIDS crisis, his friend Paul Popham complained that they mailed him things with “Gay Men’s Health Crisis” in the return address — because, he said, “I don’t want my mailman to know I’m gay.” One day, C.J., you will tell your lunchbox story to your friends or potential friends, and everyone will laugh in recognition and solidarity and then tell you their lunchbox stories too.
I’ve been thinking about this post since I read it last night. Your children, while they are going through such a difficult time right now, will grow up to be wise, considerate adults who are comfortable with themselves and will stand up for what is right. I know your journey there will be rough, but I can already see how amazing it will be. Furthermore, because Chase is at a separate school and away from home, I am incredibly impressed with him standing up for what is right. Two days in a row even! He is at an age that makes that incredibly difficult and he easily could have gotten away with staying silent or even joining the jokes. The maturity he showed by standing up, particularly the second day when he probably knew he wouldn’t change any minds is down right incredible and admirable. I’m not sure I would have had the strength to put myself out there at that age (I’m sorry to say). It is definitely a silver lining this horribly sad situation. You are raising great boys. You all are in my hearts, I hope the year gets easier.
Sending hugs of love, comfort, and support to you and your family.
Your kids are awesome because you have taught them love and compassion for all people. They are kind and respectful and all-around cool.
Hang in there. Do what you know is right even in the face of noise from less respectful kids (and adults, I’m sure).
This life brings us a lot to navigate–being a person is hard, even on a good day. Everyone is trying to understand their world and find their place in it. Chase and CJ are ahead of the curve. 🙂
Oh I feel exhausted for you all! That sort of hypervigilance and worry should not happen in children so young. They should just get to BE. I hope it starts to get better for them soon.
Have you considered urging them to do anti-bullying trainings – both for staff and students? Say, having an organization like Gender Spectrum (or a more general one) come in and do a school-wide assembly, along with some staff workshops.
There is already a recorded history of bullying issues at this school, so perhaps you can create pressure (legal or otherwise, public shaming sometimes works) to get the school to make this happen.
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Lori, yet again after reading your post all I can think is how AMAZING your family is!! You are teaching both of your boys to be strong, self-confident, kind people! I wish CJ and Chase continued strength to be exactly who they are! Keep on keeping on!!
That just sucks! Just know that there are lots of people who support you and think you are amazing!
Lori, my heart was breaking as I read this post. You have two amazing kids who just happen to have two phenomenal parents who care and love unconditionally. Every parent should take note of this.
As a 6th grade teacher, it was very hard for me to read this post. Bullying is something that makes me cringe…just at the sound of the word. Our school system has taken great steps to halt bullying at every level. However, we also know that there are times when we don’t have that close of a watch of the kids (i.e. lunch time). I am always appreciative when parents contact me if they feel their children are being bullied. Never apologize for doing that. The more we know, the better job we can do to fix it. One biggest step we are doing in our system this year is better documentation and more parent contact. We are now required to contact the parent of the bully and the parent of the victim if there is an incident. I am hoping this will help us all put an end to any bullying.
Tell CJ and Chase to stay strong. You do the same. Just remember you are a great mom, and your boys are blessed to have you!
Thanks for this comment! And I want to say that we can’t always look at the parents as being the source of a child’s misguided bullying. My parents raised us kids to NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE be disrespectful to any other person because they are different from us. But guess what? The first time I heard the word “fag” at school and I had NO idea what it meant, I joined the bandwagon with the others and threw that word around to insult anyone who irritated me. If a teacher HAD contacted my parents, like you are suggesting, there would have been h-e-double toothpicks to pay. But no teacher ever did. After I learned what that word meant I was ashamed of myself for calling anyone that and stopped doing it. And guess what? I grew up to be bi! Karma I guess! LOL. Teachers, please contact the parents. Some would be horrified to know and WILL do something about it.
Hang in there Lori…..you’re the rock….sending you all the awesome vibes you need.
We homeschool and have since long before we knew my oldest was trans. I was so sad to read this, it’s touching to see how well your boys responded and how true to their beliefs they are but so sad that they should have to deal with these things in the first place. Where we live there isn’t a strong religious feel so I find that we’ve had mostly acceptance which really makes a big difference in our lives.
I’m tearing up with how brave and strong your boys are for speaking out and standing up for themselves and others. Also tearing up because I know how much words hurt and how hard the struggle is for them everyday.
Because of you…we don’t feel so alone. Thank you.
You are such a cool mom and strong woman. We all have a lot to learn from people like yourself.
This breaks my heart. Good on you for being the kind of mom who has open lines of communication with her kids. That’ll make everything they/you are going through a lot less lonely.
As yucky as this story is, I cannot tell you how cool it is to know YOU are there to handle it. Yeah for you. Hopefully the teachers and principals will respond well. But if they don’t, you still will respond and get legal help if needed, and change schools if needed, and find more support if needed. Still, even with you there I feel worried, because I never learned to respond to bullies, and I didn’t have a parent to teach me what to say. And it sounds like Chase is out-numbered which is just really hard. And they go to school 5 days a week…….
I don’t think you need legal help at this point, but if/when you do, lambda legal has a free advise line, made specially for advising on exactly this kind of stuff.
Please do an update, too, because I’m gonna be anxious to know if these 2 sweet boys are feeling peace and friendship at school. I’m also curious how the school will handle it. Does uncle uncle have any advice? I’m picturing Chase going to school escorted by each of his grandparents and his uncle one at a time, so his schoolmates can meet his whole family, and so Chase can maybe have a tiny piece of each of these people with him. Maybe that wouldn’t help, but its what my mind comes up with. But like I said, I never learned how to respond to teasing, I tend to just feel crushed.
The fact that both of them can respond is AWESOME.
Even though I don’t think you (Lori) need legal help at this point, I just realized that so many other people read this, and I’m glad I mentioned lambda legal in case someone else needs to call them. For more info see http://www.lambdalegal.org/help. They take thousands of calls. Free, confidential.
Here’s their free guide about school issues and GLBT rights at school
Here’s another guidebook that I overlooked – this is for transgender and gender-non conforming students
Click to access btm_bending-the-mold_0.pdf
While more of the info is geared to gender identity than gender-nonconformance, it does INCLUDE gender-nonconforming students explicitly, which is good to see!
I’m grateful that if nothing else, your kids have a safe and loving home to come back to at the end of the day.
This is my first time commenting, but I wanted to say I read every one of your posts since finding your blog a few months ago. My three-year-old is gender nonconforming too, and I so worry about him getting teased and bullied at school. He just started preschool, and so far, everyone has been nice and accepting, but I know that elementary school is a whole different ball-game. Thank you for writing about your struggles (and triumphs!) so that others can learn and feel a connection with what is going on in their own lives. My little guy has a purple and teal backpack with a sparkly butterfly on it (and an Ariel keychain), and he loves to compliment all the girls’ princess backpacks, and says he wants one of those next year. I’m scared to get him one, though, because of the teasing…it’s so hard.
Heartbreaking. I wish I could be there and tell your kiddo how sweet and fun his backpack is and the princess ones are too. And I totally want him to have 5 other princess-loving boys his age for him to play with. I mean, for real!
I think SF has a GLBT-focused alternative school. Maybe we could start one for elementary age. I know this is unrealistic, it’s just that this is so so sad.
Looks like it is in NYC, not SF
But this article about SF is pretty cool too
I understand what you are going through. You are not alone.
I remember when my gay son (now 22)-after coming out in junior high to first Mom, then a teacher at school, when Dad, etc. One of my son’s teachers had a rainbow decal-he talked to her and had a gay son- and she became his “safe” person. Does CJ have a rainbow teacher? Does Chase?
It hit me so much, when my vision of how the world should be and reality of dealing with safety and helping navigate my child while help retaining his self-pride, confidence, self esteem. Add to that hearing “Faggot, you are going to hell”, and being in the closet at church. (that was when Bishop Gene Robinson was elected the first gay Bishop in the Episcopal church and our church was divided- Episcopal). Our PFLAG group, which my son and I went to every week SAVED OUR LIVES. Is that possible for CJ to attend and have his support group? PFLAG help me to comeout openly as the proud mother of a wonder gay son, and helped my son to receive support from others who had made it through; to develop early mentors; to be around others who were L. G. B. T and some parents struggling.
I taught my son about code -switching-not hiding, but being sensitive to others in his enviornment. I told him (I am a social worker) when I am caring for people who do not believe what I don’t wear my PRIDE shirt. I keep my opinions to myself, unless my client wants to discuss as issue. I am careful when addressing racist, sexist and homophobic comments based on the situation, age, etc. of the situation. CJ and Chase are learning this. This is the unfortunate reality of surviving before the critical mass tilts. One day it will. Until then, one can confront homophobia and racism and other kids, believe me, listen. Perhaps Chase will be in the Diversity Club or an ally in a GSA soon. He will learn his “come-back”. My son began saying, “I don’t listen to clobber verses.” The bully said, “What’s that?” My son said, “:Ask your pastor.” Both will find their way and place, BUT they need support and direction from you and some folks in the school that are safe. Been there, done that. GLSEN also gave us support. They provided education to our community. I worked closely with them and the President of PFLAG.
It upsets and angers me to no end that you and the kids have to deal with this stuff. And I’m not even so much angry at the other children involved (though they do share a bit of the blame) as I am at the adults who raised them this way. It’s horrible just how hateful some people can be. I’m about to go on a bit of a rant on the subject of Christianity and homosexuality, but before I do, let me just say that, no matter what anyone may say, you and your husband seem to have done a wonderful job of raising the kids. You’re an awesome family in my book.
Now, on to the rant: Since “you’re being hurtful and hateful” isn’t usually enough to shut these people up (as much as I wish it would be), here’s something else that’s useful to know when it comes dealing with people who go on about how being gay is a sin (usually quoting Leviticus 20:13 – “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”): they’re not not even in the right within their own belief system.
A couple of miscellaneous facts:
Fact #1: Here’s some other stuff Leviticus says is a sin:
– Eating shellfish (Lev 11:9-12);
– Eating fat from an ox, sheep or goat (Lev 7:23);
– Mixing of different types of fabric (Lev 19:19);
– Harvesting the corners of fields (Lev 19:9);
And it gets “better”:
– Disabled people cannot present offerings to God (Lev 21:18);
– Anyone who curses their father or his mother must be put to death (Lev 20:9).
Fact #2: Other stuff also in the Old Testament:
– Stubborn/rebellious children should be stoned to death (Deuteronomy 21:18-21);
– This list of other things the Old Testament says on the subject of relationships: ttp://nonmono-perspective.tumblr.com/post/58783745104/mybestfriendsam-th3skinny-for-all-of-you-who
I don’t see a lot of people sticking to these. Just a lot of people selectively latching on to the one thing they feel like being hateful about.
Still, some may argue, they’re sticking to what the Bible says. If it’s in there, it must be a sin, right? Wrong. Moving on to:
Fact #3: Jesus never said anything about gay marriage. Ever. He’s also the one who encouraged loving thy neighbour and tolerance in general. Which isn’t what a lot of “good Christians” who speak out against LGBTQIA rights seem to be doing;
Fact #4: Jesus was specifically anti-Leviticus and made it clear that those laws didn’t apply any more (“The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.” – Hebrews 7:18-19).
Fact #5: The laws dictated by the Old Testament were meant to be atonement for the Original Sin. When Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross, he did it so that mankind’s sins would be forgiven. So by continuing to follow the old laws even after being absolved of said sins, these so-called “devout Christians” are basically saying that Jesus’ sacrifice and God’s plan for salvation wasn’t good enough for them.
So there you have it. Next time someone uses the “being gay is a sin” argument or tells someone that they’re going to burn in Hell, kindly remind them that not only are they hateful human beings, but they don’t even have their own facts straight.
As heartbreaking as this post is, the commenters have renewed my belief in the prevailing goodness of many. Especially this one and the one that follows from Lisa W., about loving the person God made you to be. Amen. Keep on parenting.
Let me start by saying: 1) I am a Christian and believe in God, Jesus, and the Bible. 2) I am a mom of 2, one of which is a school-ager that was bullied so badly in 1st grade that she was suicidal by Thanksgiving break. 3) I am a teacher. Ok…with that all out of the way, please let me applaud you. You are teaching your children that it is ok to be the way God made them, to like what they like, and how to be prepared to live in a world that only understands sameness. I wish more parents would prepare their children that way…to have non-confrontational answers to hard questions, to have a loving and accepting spirit, and most of all, to have answers. Lots of children are ashamed to be themselves, because they think being different is bad, and because they don’t have answers to the inevitable questions their peers have. Best of all, your children are learning to love as Jesus did.
This horrible, and relentless way public schools have of forcing all children to fit into the same shaped slot is precisely why I, a licensed teacher, pulled my child from public school. My poor, beautiful girl was being picked on and physically abused because she is short….like she has any control over that. It was not only the children doing the bullying, but also the teachers that were hired to protect her, and the principal–supposedly a Christian– who looked me straight in the eye and said, “I don’t see the bullying happening, so it isn’t happening.” There’s a great dose of reality for him that he’s been out of the classroom too long…like the kids are going to misbehave in front of the big, scary principal. By the way, this whole issue is also one of 1,000s of reasons why I choose NOT to teach in a public school. In my classroom, we have a safe, loving environment. Boys play in the kitchen area, wear dress up dresses, and play with dolls. Girls play with trucks, wear hard hats, and build wonderful towers of blocks. No one thinks it’s strange, or if they do and vocalize it, we talk about why there are no “boy” or “girl” activities, that God created all the activities and all the people, “and it was good” (Genesis).
If your son needs an answer for those unyielding Christian children (who, by the way, are probably the product of immature Christians that are in their “holier than thou” phase, and haven’t delved deep enough into the Bible to learn that God calls us to love unconditionally!!), here is something that a lot of people of Faith have forgotten: All sin is equal in the eyes of God. Yes, homosexuality is a sin, and in the eyes of God is wrong, but so is judging others, swearing, using the Lord’s name in vain, disobeying parents and teachers, copying a friend’s homework, lying, cheating, stealing, etc. While we are to hate all sin, we are not to hate or judge people. It says so right in the Bible. It’s ok to voice that they think the sin–any sin–is wrong, but it is not ok to judge the person because of the sin. That’s God’s job.
I will be praying for your children!!!!!!!
You cannot teach kids that “it is ok to be the way God made them” if you also teach them that being gay is a sin or in any way comparable to cheating or stealing. How would you feel if your parents were gay and raised you to believe that being heterosexual was a sin just like cheating and stealing, and that all virtuous people hate heterosexuality? How would you feel if your parents told you, “I hate your sexual orientation, and I hate your relationship with the person you love because it is sinful”?
I have absolutely no idea how fundamentalist Christianity seems to have taken over Western religious thought. I was raised Catholic in the 60’s and there were a few fringe and strict Christian churches but not many. they seemed to have become more prominent after Reagan, but make no mistake the GOP did NOT cause this, no matter what people think. they became a huge block of voters that the gop latched on to, but perhaps that gave them legitimacy and that took off from there.
be that as it may. if god made everyone in his image as professed, then all variations of people are in that image, so why would they selectively determine what that image could be? that makes no sense to me at all. and cherry picking verse is not only wrong but dangerous to boot. no, I hedge my bets by following the tenets I was taught- that god loves all his children, so therefore all his children are perfect in his eye. I may not agree with some of those in what they say or do, but the greatest gift is free will so I accept all as they are
Lori, I would really love to go in with you for a meeting with the principal! Have you talked to Karyl about this yet? It sounds to me that the school is not doing what they should be doing to make that a safe learning space for EITHER of your kids. There needs to be a school bullying assembly with those exact examples being brought up. And a classroom bullying talk as well. They need to take action on this NOW. And the parent of that “Christian family” kid needs to be brought in for a refresher on how to be a “good person.”
Please don’t ever stop blogging…Just when I feel all alone in my shoes, you write something that makes me feel like I am not the only one fighting this battle. You are truly amazing!
I gotta congratulate YOU…. you have done an awesome job with them BECAUSE THEY ARE TELLING YOU WHAT IS GOING ON!!! They are not afraid to tell you, they tell you the day it happens….
and remember how many stories there are of kids holding it in, hiding their pain and suffering inside.. your kids are handling things better because you two are amazing parents!
Doesn’t help the heartache now… but should prevent heartache later…
We homeschool, but this is exactly why my son doesn’t wear his “girlie clothes” at our homeschool co-op. He’s afraid the other kids will hate him. They’re very Christian there. His summer visit with his dad and new step-mom had him thinking he was horrible for liking things girls wear. I don’t see why people allow their kids to tease and harass anyone, regardless of the reason. No kid should have to live in fear.
Let’s start to combat the idea that “hate” is “very Christian.” I understand what you are saying about your homeschool co-op, but by giving them the title of “very Christian, “we let them define what it is to be “very Christian” as hateful. How about the co-op is “very judgemental and calls themselves Christians?”
I mean “very Christian” to mean very conservative and holding to a certain set of ideals that are understood to be accepted as truth in the Christain community. For example, nursing in public without a cover is seen as indecent exposure because the general teachings of the Bible would say it’s not modest. Modesty in dress is something that appears universally accepted in Christianity. It could also be seen as exposing a sexual part of the body, and then presenting temptation or encouraging impure thoughts. Christianity is also known for frowning on boys dressing in girl’s clothes. It could be seen as encouraging him in becoming gay or transgender, something not commonly accepted as it is against the Bible. The Bible also speaks of not marking the skin, so my ratio and piercings are looked on as wrong by some Christian groups.
Do I think any of that is hateful? No, I don’t even find it judgmental. I find it conservative, and living in Texas, most of the actual religious Christians I meet (not those who claim to be Christian while never practicing any aspect of the religion) are rather conservative.
To say Christian like it equates to something hateful or judgmental would mean a huge contradiction in my own life. My boyfriend is Christian by choice, as is my daughter. I was raised Catholic and have considered going back to Catholicism, but it’s not for me. I still have a good many Catholic friends. I don’t find any of them hateful or equating to hate in any way. I do, however, find them to be a lot more conservative than I am based on the teachings of the Bible.
For me the problem isn’t judgment or hate. The conflict comes from their conservatism founded in the beliefs of their religion contrasting greatly with my more alternative lifestyle. Neither way is right or wrong. It’s just an uncomfortable fit. It’s going to take time to find a balance between my radical ways and still having a respect for their requirements for their religious beliefs that govern their lifestyles.
To me, “very Christian” isn’t a bad thing. It generally defines people who are loving, caring individuals that engage in great works of service and greatly benefit their community. They also tend to be more modest, what some may call “proper”, and generally more conservative and traditional. There’s nothing wrong with any of that. Conservative, especially based on religious reasoning, just isn’t who I am.
My heart is breaking for you and your kids. I am so proud of Chase for standing up for what is right, and for C.J. for trying to find his voice in this not-always-nice world. I really hope that things get better for all of you (and that you are able to catch up on your TV shows, ha). You have an amazing family, and you all are a huge inspiration to so many people. Sending love your way.
This is so upsetting, as these kids just parrot the ignorance and fear that their parents have taught them. I am scared about this situation in the future as well, as I have two boys, and my 3 year old is my little princess. He is witty and beautiful, and we have already had parents ask us in that hushed tone “are you okay with this?” when they see my son at pick up, dressed in a Cinderella princess dress and pink sparkly shoes from the dress up box in his class. I applaud you for being so strong, and your boys for being so loving. Sending love and prayers to your family. Those administrators better stand up and take care of your kids, and stop this senseless bullying.
Just picked up your book. Grateful to know there is a community out there who is understands how beautiful our kids truly are.
This just breaks my heart. It starts at home – these kids don’t learn to say things like this on their own. These parents should be ashamed of themselves.
yeah, while they should be ashamed they won’t be. they’re basically just nasty people and don’t have a clue, nor will they ever get one. sad part is that they are happiest wallowing in their ignorance.
OMG my heart is breaking.
I wanted to let you know that your blog has inspired me to reach out to our local LBGT Resource Center. They have a youth group for LBGT teens and their allies; I am going to see if they’d like me to bring my therapy dog by for a visit during one of their weekly meetings. I want them to know someone cares. I am going to make that call sooner rather than later, because of today’s post.
I hate that CJ is fearful every day, just like I was. I hate that Chase is being treated badly for being an accepting and good person. I hate that kids in this day and age are still adamant about boy vs girl items, labels, and prejudice.
On a different note, I am 37 years old and I would LOVE to have CJ’s backpack! Chases’s too! Gotta have different ones for different occasions! 😀
This isn’t going to be very comforting, I expect, but it sounds like our school year’s have started very similarly. It is mildly comforting to know that I’m not the only one going through this – and that you’re muddling through as much as I am. I just want to shake these families about how much harm they’re causing our kids! It’s amazing to me how brave my little boy is in standing up to all the teasing about being gender nonconforming.
Reblogged this on Life in Balance.
As much sad that we all feel about this, let’s take a moment and look at how awesome this is.
I’m only 25, I have never really conformed to a gender. I wouldn’t have even spoken to my parents as a first or fifth grader about being bullied like this (I never opened my mouth about this sort of bullying) because I somehow thought that it was okay because teachers never stopped it and everyone did it to me.
Your children know it’s not their fault and there is nothing wrong with them. They talk with you openly about what’s going on. That’s beautiful. I suspect the kids who are bullying don’t have that at home, and are just told how to act and what to think.
You’ve got two brilliant kids who are far more knowledgeable about themselves and the important things in life than their peer group. That’s bound to intimidate a few kids who are insecure.
I must admit I was one of those judgey little Christian kids. I learned the hard way that kids should not engage in religious debates when I lost a close friend over it. It wasn’t until college that I started really understanding what “love your neighbor” actually meant. Those kids aren’t going to change their minds just because Chase tells them they’re wrong, but by Chase telling them that Jesus said to love, that may very well plant ideas in their heads, and when they grow older and leave their sheltered home, they may learn about Jesus’ love just as I did.
I spent most of my childhood off to one side watching the other kids play. I was extremely small for my age and thin. To complicate things I had an anxiety disorder, meaning I worried a lot. It’s hard to be different especially when you are a child. Even as an adult others can make a person’s life a living hell. Friends make all the difference though, just one will do. A neighbor friend saved me from spending my young life pent up in my room. I am sure CJ and Chase will have special friends that will create a safe harbor for them through school.
There will always be the bullies of course. The worst part of school for me was when I didn’t feel safe from physical harm which was especially true during middle school. I never told anyone, I should have. Stay vigilant, especially in this regard…Adon
Normal is severely overrated. I just finished your book and I firmly believe that you and your family are destined to go through serious struggles and heartache helping CJ and Chase navigate this cruel world and come out on top. There will be tears but you are providing them with the tools of understanding, compassion and heart that most kids don’t receive. They will grow up to be wonderful people and I wish you guys all the best. Bullies are sad people who need education more than punishment most of the time. I hope that the school year gets easier. Hugs!
Sending your family some love and support.
This post makes me sad. Hopefully the principals and teachers will step in and things will get better soon.
I’m so sorry your family has been through all of that. We have been very lucky at our school. Last year in kindergarten, when someone would ask why my son likes Hello Kitty, the teacher would reply “because he does and he can.” The kids just left it alone and they all accepted him the way he is. This year he has an all new class and haven’t had any problems yet, but it’s still early. I’ll be following your post to see how you’re handling it all this year because I may need some advice.
Please don’t stop blogging or crusading. Again I am in tears reading your blog post. But I have been on the verge of tears for the past few weeks since my pink boy started back to school. Every day i worry for his safety and acceptance. He doesn’t self edit very much — today’s outfit is a pink striped shirt, pink and white shoes, magenta hoodie, coral backpack and a pretty teal lunchbag with a horse and flowers. I think 95% of his school population is nice enough to let him be himself. Its the other five percent and their parents that worry me.
Thank you to Chase for being a crusader as well. But that is too much hate for one boy to face alone and I am glad you step up to help him. I am looking forward to seeing your segment on “The Drs” this week.
This breaks my heart. The thing that upsets me most is that the kids who are saying that being gay is wrong are learning that from their parents. It makes me sad that even as adults people still teach hate. If only the world and the people in it had a little more compassion for what people might be going through…
I am a teacher and I am very interested to know how the school responded. If you can say…
Homeschool. It’s fun. They have friends. Really.
There are only two people in my life that I have ever met that I would say I hate. One came along while I was in High School. A kid in my grade would walk past me every day at some point during the school day, look me in the eye, and call me a faggot. I wasn’t out at the time, but I knew by that point that being gay was definitely possible. All I could do was laugh each time he said it, which of course in his eyes, made me look really stupid and felt really stupid. I know they are young but it’s so sad that parents don’t know what they are teaching their kids when they say things like how being gay is wrong. It’s tough but the fact that your oldest know’s it’s wrong to discriminate, makes your parenting skill far more superior to some of those other parents. As for CJ, have as many girlfriends as he would like. I had, and still have, tons from as early as 1st grade.
Heartbreaking. It must be difficult so soon after your book came out, with all the hope of changing minds.
Your kids are great. Especially Chase. Teasing and stupid comments are so much more common after 4th grade and Chase stood up to that bull. And good for CJ to keeping with his style. My style was always more blue than pink and I was really happy in the late ’60s when it suddenly became OK for girls to wear pants to school.
yeah, that’s the thing that always ticks me off. Somebody else decides it’s ok you can wear oants today, but God forbid yesterday.
You and your sons are very brave. It’s hard growing up, and it’s hard for us parents raising them up – but you are handling those fiery moments beautifully and giving your children everything they need to be both advocates and positive open-minded members of their world.
I know you know this, but, your boys are AWESOME. I know with your support there is nothing they won’t be able to do.
I am so sorry that any kid, much less your boys should have to put up with this nonsense. if it wasn’t this specific issue it would be another. I can personally attest to that from 50 years ago, as well as my kids could from 25 years ago.
I think the next frontier will be a concerted effort to lobby advertising and toys and cosmetic companies to start subtly shifting their message on gender specific items. they started this stupidity to increase markets so they can contribute to changing it. witness a 14 year old girl who successfully lobbied to have ez bake ovens made in other than pink and purple for her brother for Christmas.
there are few items that are gender specific, no matter the cultural expectations. we need to get away from this and the feminist organizations need to be at the forefront of this as a major player. that is unless they don’t have the courage to speak for all people but just a narrow view.
good thoughts to you and yours.
Got any Friends (Quaker) schools in your area?
This post made me cry…but it also made me smile. I cried for the ignorance and intolerance still out there in the world, getting passed on to these children, but I smiled at the strength and courage of Chase and CJ, and at how blessed they are to have the parents they have, who are providing an amazing role model for them. Hopefully they can shed a little light in their classes this year!
I know it’s tough and unfair- but developing thick skin is going to be an absolutely necessary part of this puzzle, for all of you. I’m a gay man who grew up ‘disconforming’ to just about everything. I carried a briefcase to school and did impersonations of Katherine Hepburn and Bette Davis. My ‘style’ wasn’t popular at school or at home. I did however have one friend who thought I was amusing, and she liked me the way I was, and that lone person making that clear to me was enough to get me through. Having had the Duron’s behind me, what a difference that would have made… But I didn’t and I made it anyway. Unfortunately I did it by editing myself because 25 years ago, that was the only solution I could find. When I turned 20 I decided enough was enough and I was going to be me and still it wasn’t easy; But the experience of learning to navigate troubled waters can be enlightening. One learns a lot and we learn it fast. I’m confident that doing it with the support system you’re offering means CJ is going to be just fine.
This is unfortunately just the beginning, but it doesn’t have to be this bad. I feel strongly that the term “gender nonconforming” is way too big a concept/term for most children and adults. Be proactive and allow your son to feel what he feels and be open with you about what it’s like for him. You aren’t going to be able to change the world, just accept him and love him and don’t make too much of an issue that he’s “different”. he is who he is-a lot of the proactive stuff is going to have to occur behind the scenes for his sake. The separation of boys/girls occurs in cwertain social situations naturally in school until they get older or play one-on-one. It’s not easy, but allowing him to feel okay and normal is all that you can do. I would encourage the at-home play to remain there-kids are cruel and he should be able to do whatever he wants but in a protected environment.
Standing up for something, anything, is usually a path paved with conflict and struggle, but that is not something any first or sixth grader should have to face. I hope your children grow stronger through these ordeals.
Also, I disagree with the comments calling the classmates assholes. Kids tease anybody who is different. It’s just something they do. It’s not easy for the kids being bullied, but I don’t think CJ or Chase’s classmates are irrevocably evil or from terrible families. I remember teasing (maybe even bullying) a slightly feminine boy when we were in second grade, and I also made a very racist remark when I was 7. Fortunately my parents overheard and explained to me why that was wrong.
Am sure many of these kids will outgrow such mentality.
I hope CJ finds some awesome friends in first grade!
To say that I “liked” your post is wrong, because it just made me feel so sad for you and your family. Having read your book, I know where you’re coming from and I can imagine what you, as a mother of two lovely children, are going through. I have 4 children, the youngest of whom is now 27 and gay. He was always a little different as he grew up, but I never tried to change him and when he finally “came out” a few years ago, it was certainly no surprise to his father and I. I am proud of all of my children and try to support them in all they do, regardless of their sexuality! Good luck with this journey of yours.
Your family is amazing and beautiful and brave. You’re paving the way for so many people to come. Stay strong and keep encouraging your children to be themselves — because they seem amazing, and the world needs more amazing people.
Here, here too!
I don’t think you can dispute that many of the attitudes and beliefs being inflicted on Chase and CJ by other children are taught by/inherited from the ‘elders and betters’ of those children.
However it’s worth remembering that not all battles have to be fought and won with weapons of war. It’s probably too late to influence those ‘elders and betters’, but not too late to win the battle with the children, perhaps by Chase and CJ presenting valid arguments to refute their views, or challenging them (in a non-confrontational way) to provide evidence to support their attitudes.
I think that, the moment you can open a channel to discussion, you also open a channel to potential change.
It’s also worth remembering that children will only tease while they can see that it’s having an effect; ignored, it’s soon viewed as a wasted effort, and stops. Ignoring teasing can be much harder to do but, with the sort of self confidence that Chase and CJ have, I’m sure that they could do it.
Being a parent isn’t easy, but you’ll find a way through this. Great parents always do!
Oh no!!! Poor kiddos! I am so upset for your family. We had a similar incident during the first week of school, in which a “big kid” picked on my first grader because he was playing with Barbies on the bus. Be strong, mama! (Although I know you already are). You and your husband are doing great by your kids, and they’ll be better at the end of their childhood because of it. (FWIW, my son yelled “LEAVE ME ALONE!” to the big kid, and it worked, and he was quite proud of himself. We role play a lot, too!)
I read this aloud to my partner and had to fight back the tears. It is so sad that your beautiful children are experiencing such prejudice. Thank God they have a mother who is so understanding and loving. I hid my sexuality in school for fear of the teasing. I wish I hadn’t. I am who I am, Everyone is individual and should be respected as such – we have a little boy in Abi’s school who wears disney dresses and tiaras daily. It is allowed and embraced and has encouraged children to accept differences. Your children sound amazing. School is a harsh environment sometimes, but much as it may not feel like it right now, school is not forever. x
My heart aches for all of you. I hope things get better and the other kids see just how AWESOME both your boys are xx
Thank you for all of this. You and your family are absolutely amazing, and are all making the world a better place, day by day. I wish it could be easier for you all; yeah, this breaks my heart and made me cry a little. But if C.J. ever wants backup, he’s got it. He’s got friends across the nation and across the globe. How many of his classmates can say that??
You’re clearly raising smart, strong kids. Some of my friends and I were bullied from time to time for one reason or another, but we ignored it and stood our ground, and they actually ended up respecting us all the more in the end. Two of them ended up Class Presidents. And this was at a snotty Prep school in Ohio.
There’s always crappy people out there, and they usually start out as the loudest, but it seems like the good ones take over more and more these days. People like you guys.
Kids are cruel and school is a breeding ground for idiots, I swear. It’s just a shame your children had to run into them! But I want to hug Chase so much right now. He sounds like he has a lot of courage to stand up to people and call them out on their ignorance and prejudice. Long may that continue! (The courage, not the ignorance and prejudice. Obviously.) And of course for CJ there’s a lot of bravery involved too. So hugs to them both.
I teach middle school, and know that for every mean bullies there are fifty more kids who think bullies are horrible but just sont say anything. Thank you for giving your children the words and strength to combat kids who just have to be mean.
Hold on there 😦
BTW, I think it’s AWESOME CJ has a rainbow leopard print back pack!!! 😀
I’m so sorry that your angels have to go through this. 😦 I would have thought by now, that humanity would have evolved enough for parents to teach their children about diversity. I feel proud that your oldest is standing up for what is good. It’s testament to your good parenting. 🙂
Hang on! It will get better!
Oh my goodness. I wanted to cry just imagining C.J. carrying his lunch with his hands. Both my kids like stuff that is typically marketed for the opposite gender, so I understand your situation a little. You are doing a great job of giving your kids the right words to say in tough situations. It’s so unfortunate that your kids have to deal with these things already. Hopefully the school year will get better!
I have a Disney Princess backpack, in fact I have 5…they are all sparkly and pink and totally my style. Oh yeah, I’m 23 years old and gender nonconforming just like you. People question my choices and just like you I have to bravely tell them “it’s my style”! You are so much stronger at your age than many grown adults and I respect/admire you so much for that. Continue to be your sparkly pink backpack wearing self and continue to inspire many people around you!
Continue to stand up for others! You are doing the right thing and sometimes it’s not the easiest. But remember you are making a difference every time you stand up for what is right and just and it can half the profoundest effect.
Dear dear Lori,
I am so sorry for your children & for you & Matt–BUT you sure do deserve kudos for keeping it together–the support you give your boys is awe inspiring! I cried through your entire post!! I am sending light & love–this up & down roller coaster ride may never be easy, but hopefully the love at home will guide your boys through these difficult times.
Bless you and bless your family. You know what you are doing is right, doesn’t make it easier, but it does make difference – a huge difference
Reading this reminds me of another little red-headed child who was constantly picked on for years for trying to follow their own path. Eventually the child hid them-self behind numerous barriers, trying to block out the pain and anger. It took nearly 20 years for that person to open them-self up and embrace their true reality, with a with of coaxing from their real friends. Today she is happier than ever, and ready to be seen for who she really is.
I only wish I had a mommy who was like you when I was growing up. Maybe some of that pain could have been lessened. My heart goes out to you and your children!
I’m so sorry that your family has to deal with this. I’m sure you already know it, and I hope CJ and Chase do too, but that boy is absolutely wrong; you are doing an amazing job with your family. They seem like they are going to grow up to be amazing people. 🙂
This is so hard to read but you are doing the right thing. Unfortunately, they are learning young that it takes a lot of guts to stand up for yourself and your beliefs. Right on to both of them for being so steadfast and thank you for sticking up for them actively. Right on Mama. It sounds like you had a rough week.
Sending you all the love and support I have. You and your boys are making this world a much better place, and I’m just so sorry you have to deal with all this crap as you do so. Kudos to Chase for being such a strong and goodhearted kid – sadly, most adults wouldn’t stand up to bullies that way. I will keep my fingers crossed that your next school days are brighter.
I remember second grade when a little girl told me that if I didn’t celebrate christmas that I didn’t believe in God. Her words did not make sense because I new very well that I believed in God, but that my family celebrated different holidays. But her words still stung. I sometimes think that parents try to simplify things for their kids when they are simple themselves and fear what is different or have no logical reason for their beliefs so they demonize everything else. To me this is a sign of ignorance. Most intelligent people feel comfortable enough with themselves that they don’t have to berate others.
Maybe the little girl in CJ’s class wanted a camouflage backpack or a truck and her mom told her “no, it’s specifically for boys, but here, have this pink doll or backpack which is specifically for girls”- a shame that her mom taught her to limit the world at such an early age.
(although I’ll bet if CJ brought in camo-frosted cupcakes with a plastic army men on top, she’d gladly eat one even though they’re “for boys” 😉
I wish I could just some kind of anti-bully superhero and just swoop down or something.
“Nah nah nahnah nah Snark-Person!”
I am so pissed on your behalf. So sad for CJ that he’s already so aware and already dimming his light. No child wants to stand out in any way. My son has been through this. (I went through it). Your words come from your heart and they are perfect. So hard for me to not want to go all Mama Bear on behalf of both your boys. My Little Man started fifth grade this year, too.
I am so sorry that you, your husband, and the children have to go through this. I wish there was something I can say, but I know, and I know you know, that this is just the tip of the years to come. I don’t know what to say to that but that I’m sorry all of you have to endure that.
Here’s hoping things start to settle down. You are raising such strong worldy boys, keep up the great work.
Daniele, sydney Australia
Sorry I’m writing to quickly before school pick up. I meant to say you are raising worldly boys. Meaning they will be adaptable and be more accepting of others within our society.
Sending loads of hugs and good thoughts to you and yours. I feel so bad for both kids; I faced many issues similar to what Chase is experiencing and it’s never easy, especially as a kid (I’m pagan so I started to hear how I was “going to Hell” from third grade on. >_<). I really hope both kids will be able to finish this school year with happiness, even if the beginning is incredibly rough.
Not all girls like feminine stuff (I don’t even OWN a dress) and not all boys like masculine stuff (my 20 year old nephew loves My Little Pony). And neither is inclusive or exclusive of preference as both of us are cis. Here’s hoping things get better for both of them and they’re able to keep their head up and stay proud!
does CJ have a BFF that can stick by him or be coached to do so? my experience was this was all so much easier with one true friend by your side.
Being a perent is soooo hard, I hope it starts smoothing out for you and your family!!
Oh Lori – I’m sorry! I want CJ & his brother to come to our sweet, open-minded school. It would be a bit of a commute, but no one would bat an eye at CJ’s backpack or lunch box. It just sucks you have to keep dealing with this… Xo
My heart is with you, Lori. Thank you for sharing so vulnerably. You are love in action!
Oh my gods, I’m at chapter 12 in your book and then I come to this post. It never ceases to amaze me how thoughtless and cruel people can be, even kids, to those of us who break gender boundaries.
Yours is a wonderful family, and I wish more people would see that.
p.s. I drive a bus and a few weeks ago I told off some big kid for teasing a little kid who had red hair. This week I had a go at some other (extremely loud) kid for being racist towards Asians….changing the world one bus trip at a time…
First, you are handling everything so stinking well! Secondly, this may be harder to do when at school and on a peer-to-peer level but whenever the two girls living in my house make comments about “girl things” and “boy things” I and my roommate just keep reinforcing that anyone can wear/like whatever the girls are saying is only for boys or girls. I strongly feel that if C.J. just keeps repeating that “backpacks are for everybody and that is just my style” the girl will eventually stop. Little kids, most of the time, are spouting off messages they hear from home or ideas they see on t.v./movies and while these negative comments are not cool, it’s often just the kids processing something that they don’t’ quite fully grasp yet.
It sucks that you’ve already had to contact authority figures but after 4 days of these behaviors, at the same school (I’m assuming), it needs to be nipped in the bud. Sending positive vibes your family’s way. 🙂
Oh good Lord. Couldn’t you just bullwhip some parents! This shit is ALL learned off the parents!!! Truly. I just watched a show on telly about a transgender girl who was born a boy. Aged seven, she appeared with her supportive parents to tell Australia that it’s okay to be born a boy and want to be a girl and vice versa. Not only that, but Insight (the program) had a large number of people all with varying gender non conforming issues, some going back twenty years, who told their stories. They are all lovely, normal people. I think school is hard enough as it is, without being gender nonconforming. Go Chase for standing up for what he believes in! And screw the parents of that little cow who told CJ he couldn’t carry the pretty backpack. Screw them!
I am in support and love with you and your family. We have had to change lunch boxes too and it breaks my heart. I try and remember our children are growing up to be loving caring good people and lets just hold them tight while the rest of the world catches up! So sorry you and your boys had to go through this though.
Imagine having to be brave just to show up to lunch. Your kids are lucky to have you.
Oh my god, I’m so sorry! No kid should have to go through that, especially kids who are as wonderful as CJ and Chase. What have been the principles’ responses to all of this? I hope they’ve been nothing but supportive and helpful. Have you guys thought about alternative education options in case things get bad at their current schools?
That is the most heartbreaking but brave post about the kids first day. Thank you for sharing..
I cheer for C.J and Chase from Canada!
I just read your post and feel for you all
I have the same angst with my youngest non conforming son and my older in fifth grader like Chase
Add to that he comes home with a dislike for religion when faced with such predjuice (add to it we are Jewish)
It’s hard to stay in the present, kick back and enjoy reality tv or even breath during a yoga class when percolating thoughts of ridicule and how the day will go for your children are there. Then when they come home and your concerns are brought to fruition and you have to contact the school it makes even more difficult to just be still-even with all the love and support you give a child. Sometimes as I read about other advocates and leaders I think we all share this in common and it is what propels us to act…..
You poor things! School can be so horrible, I just hope CJ can keep his sparkle and good on your older son for being so open and sticking up for others. It must be difficult for them both and of course you and your husband!
I have a pit in my stomach just reading it. I can’t even imagine having to deal with it. It seems that big assholes raise little assholes. I wish there were more bad families like you around.
oh also, even though i can’t quite see their faces, CJ and Chase look SOSO cute!!!!
oh my goodness i don’t know how you, or even CJ and Chase can deal with so much. i commend all of you and ESPECIALLY CJ and Chase, it must have been a little scary for both of them to stand up to the ignorant kids. If i was part of your family, I would be so proud of everyone. ❤ my best wishes for all of you and i hope school gets better for CJ and Chase 🙂 btw im not a mom or anything, im in highschool but you and your family are just a HUGE inspiration for me, to want to be just as brave as all of you.
Thank you so much for giving them a voice. It must be really hard to be growing up in 2013. It is sad that C.J. is so worried about the lunchbox that he obviously loves. School can be really tough for those that do not conform, but it is important to keep that creativity and spark alive. You are doing a great job. 😀