Imagine my utter delight when I learned that at the next PTA meeting, someone would be speaking about the anti-bullying laws in place to protect LGBT and gender creative kids.
Although I’m a card-carrying PTA member, I’ve attended only three PTA meetings in my six years as mother to an elementary-school-aged child. Each time I sat through the meeting feeling like the PTA wasn’t the place for me.
But, hell, if they were going to be discussing LGBT and gender issues, maybe I had been wrong.
I walked into the crowded Multipurpose Room and found a seat in the back corner by myself. I listened as the PTA board and its members ran through the agenda. When they started passionately discussing the nutritional value of whole-wheat goldfish crackers versus original goldfish crackers, I tuned out. I will never argue about goldfish crackers; of that you can be sure.
Finally it was LGBT time. To start, the presenter rattled off statistics from GLSEN’s latest National School Climate Survey. I use the same numbers when I present to groups. They are powerful.
- At school, 74 percent of LGBT students were verbally harassed in the past year because of their sexual orientation and 55 percent because of their gender expression.
- As a result of feeling unsafe or uncomfortable at school, 30 percent of LGBT students missed at least one day of school in the past month.
- A hostile school climate affects students’ academic success and mental health. Grade point averages for these students were between nine and 15 percent lower than for others.
- LGBT students who experience victimization and discrimination at school have worse educational outcomes and poorer psychological well-being.
“I don’t believe those numbers,” a mother in my row blurted out, startling me.
“Yeah! Where did you get those numbers from!?” another mom shouted from one row over.
The presenter started to reply.
“They’re actually from a survey GLSEN does…”
“Who?!” a mom questioned.
“I’ve never heard of them!” a mom yelled.
Another mom was skeptically writing down the name so that she could look GLSEN up when she got home.
“Are those numbers for elementary students?! They have to be for only high schoolers and this is an elementary school!”
“They are for all students,” the speaker replied. (The numbers are actually for middle school and high school students.)
“But, not in our area. Those aren’t Orange County numbers!”
For a group that tries to stick strictly to Robert’s Rules of Order, this was an unruly behavior.
The presenter carried on bravely in the face of rudeness and righteousness.
“What do we call girls who like play with boy toys and wear boy things?” he asked.
“Tomboys!” the mom next to me shouted out, proud of herself for knowing the right answer.
“Great. And, what do we call boys who like to play with girl toys and wear girls things?”
“Gay Boys!” she shouted just as assuredly.
My head whipped instinctively in her direction and not for any reason other than I could not believe she would think it was okay to volunteer that answer out loud in public.
She felt me looking at her.
“What?! That’s what they call them!” she said, like I was the stupid one.
The presenter started going through a list of the state and national laws in place to protect LGBTQ and differently gendered kids.
When he got halfway down the list of laws, to AB 1266, the crowd went wild. AB 1266 is a California law stating that a student cannot be discriminated against based on their sex, gender, gender identity or gender expression. Specifically, they can play on the sports teams and use the restrooms that are consistent with their gender identity.
“The laws are protecting these trans kids but not the normal kids!”
“I’ve talked to several of my attorneys about this law…”
“I don’t want a girl in the boys bathroom looking at my son’s penis!”
“They should build them their own bathroom so they aren’t in there with other kids!”
“There are two of ‘them’ at our school using the girls bathroom! Two!”
Heat took over my entire body. My heart had either stopped beating entirely or was beating so hard that it would explode. I was going to drop dead at the PTA meeting.
They were talking about my gender nonconforming son. Trust me, I know, because this has been an issue for more than a year. People believe that my son uses the girls’ restroom. And, it’s not just people at our school who believe it. It’s a rumor that has spread through the district and all the way to the local mega church, forcing my parents out of a bible study when a fellow Christian berated them through clenched teeth in front of their small group of fellow believers.
By the tone of their voices and looks on their faces, I could tell that these mothers hate my child because of where they think he relieves himself. I wanted to defend my son. I don’t want anybody to hate my child. I wanted to fight for his honor, but I needed to get myself under control first — or who knows what might fly out of my mouth.
As I collected my thoughts, the mob mentality had set in. The moms in the room were influenced and encouraged by the behaviors and opinions of their peers. They couldn’t believe that any person in the room (other than the presenter) might have a differing point of view.
To quiet the crowd, the presenter turned on a 20/20 clip featuring Jazz Jennings, a transgender teen advocate who is nothing short of amazing. I smiled at Jazz, her supportive family, her mermaid swim fin and her happiness.
“Those parents are playing God!” a mother said loudly as she crossed her arms angrily over her chest and shook her head in disgust.
“Yeah, and now that poor thing is sterile!” said another mom. Like a child is broken if it can’t procreate. Like there’s no other way for a family to form.
When the clip was over the meeting was over and I had to rush to get my kids.
Later, I sat with Matt and told him about the meeting.
“We’ve got to pull C.J. out of that school. Those people are fucking crazy,” he insisted.
“No, the school administration is great. I trust them. And his teacher is a dream come true. It’s just the PTA moms who are horrible. And, as much as they would hate to hear it, they are inconsequential. Their opinions don’t matter,” I said.
“You’re not going to another PTA meeting, we don’t need to be around people like that.”
“That will be the last PTA meeting I ever attend, trust me.”
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You should do the opposite. Go to the meetings. Volunteer a bit. Advocate for your child and all the children. Don’t let small minded parents win and dominate. PTA’s run well do matter and their voices are heard. Become PTA President. Spread the power of acceptance of all and become the voice of the scared child that has a small minded parent. Over time, maybe your voice will become the voice of the small minded parent. Their ignorance will slowly fade, and maybe they will see what you see. Maybe they will care, and speak with acceptance and not fear and hatred. They learned their hate. Maybe they can learn your acceptance and unconditional love.
Reblogged this on OCDesigns_PwinArt and commented:
From time to time I like to share posts that strike my interest as a Mother. Found this worth the share!
“To quiet the crowd, the presenter turned on a 20/20 clip featuring Jazz Jennings, a transgender teen advocate who is nothing short of amazing. I smiled at Jazz, her supportive family, her mermaid swim fin and her happiness.” SPOKEN WORDS OF A TRUE LOVING MOTHER! Woman ! Human! Excuse me if I might add… I would have smacked the hell out of some people! Cross your arms in discust of any child! A Child is LOVE!!! Notice I failed to add gender, disability, Color or a child with a carrot for a nose. Tell them all to go find themselves because they are so very lost! I feel sorry for every single one of those idiots! Teach our children stop trying to parent them. Let’s talk about the FOOD they took out of my children’s hands and threw it in the trash because they were a quarter short! Yep a Quater! I must go now! Thank you so much for the post and your love for your beautiful child!
Well when I was in school PTA stood for Partly Trained Apes. Sound like after 40 years their stupid mentality hasn’t changed. Most of this is coming from religion and preachers. we need less preachers and churches and more educated people.
Back up a moment. Whilst I agree entirely with you that we need more educated people, to correlate religious affiliation with ignorance and/or stupidity is not a position that can be supported by evidence. There are many people out there who use their religion as an excuse for switching off conscious, critical thought. That is true. That image is, however, only a small part of the whole picture. Throughout history, there have been many great minds who have advanced science, philosophy, education and so on whilst, at the same time, maintaining an active faith in God (I frequently mention that the Big Bang Theory was first proposed and developed by Catholic priest, Georges Lemaître, clearly an educated person).
Equally, there are many bigots and idiots who are not religiously affiliated at all.
Not all religious people are stupid or bigoted, please bear that in mind.
As per usual I’m a little late to the party, but this post brings words out of me that must be said. I would not have been able to be as stoic and strong as you. Even if my child isn’t transgender in any way, I would have been jumping down their throats to see what their innards look like.
It is mentality like these people showed that makes me hide what I am, makes me wear the clothing I am really comfortable in underneath the costume of mens clothing. I didn’t grow up with a family who believed in being yourself, they were very much of the mentality that you do whatever you want behind closed doors, but you conform when you go out.
Stories like this make me scared now. My wife just gave birth to a wonderful little boy, and I’m scared that will be like his father, comfortable more in women’s clothing and even general gender roles than as a man. What kind of world will greet him when he’s old enough to make the decision?
I love your blog, but I must stop reading it at work. I get too worked up about the idiocy of the general public. Thank you for sharing your stories with us, your life with us. It gives a glimmer of hope for the future.
Well, the good news ,writer, is at least at home you could be relatively supported. Many folks never even get that.
This breaks my heart. How could mothers be so cruel?! Would they want other parents talking about their children that way??
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Reblogged this on Musings Of A Teenage Cleanbag and commented:
I recently made the aquaintance if a trans boy my age. He was just like everyone else. End of story. There really isn’t such a thing as gay…
Reblogged this on diverging conversations and commented:
My first shameless Reblog. If only I could Reblog the whole website. I would.
Nonconformists have a truly difficult time with today’s American ideal, particularly when that difference is sexual in nature. Racism, sexism and speciesism alike, people continue to be uncomfortable when others (accidental or no) challenge their own views of what is “normal” just by being themselves — no harm meant or even directed toward the others. That discomfort sometimes presents in ugliness, like it did in the meeting. Though I feel for you in your situation there, I feel more for the poor PTA moms who don’t have a clue about life. It will be a long hard haul for them with hearts full of hatred.
Stay the course. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I wish you and your family the best in life! F*ck the PTA moms. You’re the bigger of the lot.
Hmm. Since it’s CA and warm i would wear my flip flops. Then they’d see my currently maroon colored toes on this heteronormal almost 60 yo. Aghast. Now wtf would they say? Me? I would say KMA. 🙂
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You’re a better woman than me, man. I would do everything in my power to shame those people and drag that PTA through the mud until it disbands and then all run and hide. I’m so angry over this for you!!!
Why do people care which bathroom someone uses? Seriously, they’re just kids, what’s the big deal? I don’t get why the other moms are freaking out, even if he was using the girls bathroom. Female bathrooms all have separate stalls anyway, are they afraid their children will see him washing his hands?
Reblogged this on mkhana in transit.
My heart bleeds for you. The mob mind has the lowest possible IQ emotionally and intellectually.
I can’t decide who I feel worse for, you, your precious child (we are all precious no matter what), or those other children who are being raised to have such wrong-headed fears. Those stats just break my heart. People should teach their children to be respectful in restrooms, not to watch anyone else or look where they shouldn’t, rather than freaking out about who their child might see. I wish for a lifetime of good friends, inner strength and carefree joy for you and your family.
I’m amazed at your patience. I probably would have left a lot sooner, or said something I regretted. Hang in there! Love the blog!
Reblogged this on SKINNY NECK and commented:
FYI the mom who followed my blog and who discussed the meaning of “gay” with her eight year old and later made many “gay” jokes. This is excellent sensitivity and diversity training for all. 🙂
Hi. I am new to your blog but very grateful for your article about this. I hope it’s okay that I reblog this for the benefit of a Mom (who followed my blog) that made jokes and encouraged jokes among her readers after discussing the meaning of the word gay. I hope she will understand how much damage she is potentially doing to her eight year old as much as to any LGBT children or adults that encounter her “humor”.
Does a good PTA even exist anywhere? I remember that every PTA that ever existed in my schools were made up of stuck up, racist, homophobic parents whose sole reason for joining was to garner special treatment for their kids. Many of them would even embezzle the funds and treat themselves to happy hours.
A lot of good PTA’s and PTA people exist. I happen to know many of them. And I see and hear of many prejudiced people that are not involved in a PTA. Any group can have people in it that hold prejudices….it certainly is not exclusive. If this particular group was called a parent teacher league or a parent teacher committee it would hold the same prejudices. That is inherent in the people at the school not in the name of the parent organization. I am so proud of her for speaking up against prejudice which present day America seems to be full of. Not just in this instance and not just for this set of children. Let us not be full of prejudice against a nationwide organization known as PTA because of one set of parents in this particular school. Let us show children that prejudice should not exist anywhere by being open and honest and caring.
I had a similar brush with ignorance. My son goes to dance class. He’s 6. Six. He has no leanings towards trans-genderism or the like (he’s pretty much a burpy, farty, silly boy) but that’s neither here nor there. He is however, classified as being on the spectrum and to that end has some wiggly, jumpy, non-typical behaviors. In dance class he sometimes needs reminders to return to the line, to follow directions, etc. (Sorta what ALL 6 year olds need time to time, but hey) A week and a half ago, a fellow “dance mom” (as opposed to me – a “mom who takes her kid to dance class”) spoke to my ex and asked, “Do you ever talk to your son about his behavior? He is distracting my daughter.” Um, what? As my ex calmly explained that he is autistic, has every right to be in the class, and has been told by the teacher he is progressing, she withdrew. But long story short, ignorance comes in all shapes and sizes. Much love to you for having to deal with such blatantly stupid ignorance.
Don’t know if this counts as a re-blog or not, but this post inspired my latest blog post at http://www.i-am-a-person.net/?p=165
Hang in there, Lori, we all think you’re doing a wonderful job.
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I’m a great fan of your blog and have only lost touch due to my own life circumstances – bravo for even coping with this much stupidity! You are wonderful
Amy Poehler’s NBC comedy Parks and Recreation has done a half dozen episodes involving “town hall meetings” and I swear, your post could be from the scripts. You watch and think,”No, there’s no way one small city could have that many horrible, dumb people in it”, but deep down, you know it’s accurate.
I find this meeting appalling and unacceptable on so many levels. First of all no matter the topic it was an unruly meeting, with no order. Where was the PTA president & other PTA board members or the School Principal? These parents were completely rude to the invited speaker. I would consider filing a complaint with the PTA organization about this behavior, it reflects badly on not only the school, but the district & the whole PTA organization. I am honestly shocked at the things these parents said. The law is there & the school needs to abide by it & if they don’t like it they can complain to the appropriate government officials. It’s not really a school issue any more now that it’s the law. Who uses it doesn’t is irrelevant & they are just being gossipy. My son has some privacy issues & after talking to his teachers the solution we came up with is that he can use the bathroom in the nurses office. I’m not sure that he does, I think he often just doesn’t go at school. I’m not very educated on the topic since it doesn’t affect my family, but I applaud and support all that you do for your son. I think that every child / person is unique & I object to trying to put everyone in to a perfect fitting box. I have two young boys with long hair who have their own sense of style & love to wear brightly colored nail polish & crazy hats & I want them to have the freedom to do so. I resent the fact that Girls have much more options & freedom to express themselves than boys. Like the comment at the Awful PTA meeting above, a girl wearing what would be considered typical boys clothes or doing typical boy activities is not given a second though. But if a boy does it, oy vey, everyone goes crazy & it’s viewed as wrong somehow. I not only don’t understand, but find this behavior by the parents completely unacceptable.
I am sick to my stomach for you. I wish I could have been there to kick their butts. For you, your son, for me (I’m bi)… we are dealing with an issue right now. My son, 12,straight, is the best friend any glbtq kid could have. One of his female friends is bi, so when a student and teacher said anti-glbtw statements in class, my son was livid, told us and we’re taking care of it. I’ve told my son about yours and he said he’d be his friend. I feel awful for glbtq kids who have those bigots as parents. I’m so sorry this happened. Love to you. Keep your head up. Our kids will make a difference. Xo
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The very next time someone says “who cares, I don’t tell you I am straight” when an actor, athlete or person of leadership and influence, such as Tim Cook, publicly identifies themselves as LGBTQ I am sending them here. I am sickened. I am disgusted. I am broken. Because this continues.
I have been struggling for a while with being my true self. I am a very heterosexual, white, Christian, woman, liberal democrat, patriotic American. That is a lot of identifiers isn’t it? And that is just it, they are identifiers, but not my identity. Many of them I am proud of. Others bring me shame. Like being Christian. Because there is a group of loud Christians out there who assume they speak for all of us. They shout and gnash their teeth and shake their fists in defiance. They proclaim their interpretation of the word of God and use it like a weapon. A weapon against grandparents who want to share the Bible in a small group because their beloved grandson likes pink and glitter. I cannot abide by this. I just cannot. And so I find myself ashamed to admit that I am a lifelong Catholic.
And a Patriot…forget it. I didn’t even feel comfortable making a Veteran’s Day post on Facebook because I find what Patriotism stands for these days to be so contrary to what I believe it really is. And that is pathetic because my uncle was shot down over Tunisia during WWII and my father was a Navy Seal. But being a patriot means something different than when I was a kid. All the white bled out leaving only Red and Blue and they don’t get along and they behave disgracefully. Apparently, in order to be patriotic in this country, you must believe in free and unlimited access to guns, prayer in schools, denying women access to birth control and starving children with no hope of an education. Any faith other that Christianity is simply wrong, not to be tolerated, a affront to America. Because only Christians are patriots. Anyone with a counter thought, a differing ideology, a desire to fight for the disinfrachised cannot possibly be Christian, cannot possibly be Patriotic.
I fundamentally reject this!
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
Yes, I am a very heterosexual, white, Christian, woman, liberal democrat, patriotic American. I will not be denied those facets of my identity by the close minded, because I believe with every fiber of my being that my God makes no mistakes that we are each uniquely, “fearfully and wonderfully made…”
I am sorry you endured that. But I believe the world is changing. The women of the PTA will soon be marginalized. That same old and tired mantra will ventrally lose its voice. And the voices of CJ will be heard loudly and clearly. Thank you for continuing this fight. So that all of the many different and beautiful ways that people identify themselves can continue to be heard and accepted just as God intended.
Never be ashamed of being a Catholic. Sure, we have a reputation for blindly following a bunch of homophobic misogynistic bigots, but that reputation is, in most cases, hugely undeserved.
If the church loses those of us who believe that Jesus Christ was the sort of person who turned over market stalls and criticised religious leadership to their faces, the sort of person who sat down with sinners and who verbally jousted with foreigners before praising their great faith, Catholicism will be extinct within 50 years.
The PR department doesn’t speak for us all, so we must speak up for ourselves, preaching the gospel at all times (if necessary, using words).
Hang in there.
Brilliantly articulated and all true. His Holy Father, Pope Francis gives me great hope. And I am coming out of hiding and becoming my usual vocal self again. To be fair, I was raised largely in the Jesuit tradition so Jesus, as you describe Him, is very real to me. It really is as simple as WWJD!
Gandhi’s words took my breath away! They perfectly speak to my heart and what I am saying to the fundamentalist right given the opportunity. Sadly, I have never been ashamed or private about my political beliefs. On that I am quite clear and vocal. And that has been the rub. Why am I afraid to associate as Christian because there are critical, judgmental haters? I never shy away from a political debate. I need my faith voice to catch up. I just never want to be lumped in to the religious lemmings and zealots…I never want to be associated with that level of hatred.
I’m bi and Christian, I have Christian friends who support me….I also have extended family who are in the military and they support me too. The ones who are most vocal are the bigots but they don’t speak for all of us. Keep your head high. I love you for who you are!!!
This is one of the many reasons why I am so nervous about picking a school for my son next year. I am a teacher, and I’m terrified to send him to school.
One of the factors in choosing my daughter’s school was that it was pretty obvious on the tour that gender conformity was not an attendance requirement. It’s an arts school and creativity of all kinds are encouraged. As a transgender parent, I don’t want my kids to be hurt because of who I am. I would have probably gone off on those harridans. How awful!
May i offer another perspective? One that might help the schools to see another viewpoint
For the last century women have been vocal about being accepted as equals to men. Wages, occupations etc. Fair enough. That point is clearly made through all media that girls can do anything a boy can do. Rightfully so and truthful too.
But somehow boys and men have been left out of this shift. So my point is is that it is totally natural for the kids especially of this generation to look at girls and what they do as natural and only as something that all people can do. They don’t get that they as boys are excluded. Until they hear stupid comments from adults and kids who have been trained by adults living in the past. Get what i mean?
Actually the feminists should be proud of their accomplishments in this regard, that this generation truly gets what they were saying. No more need for fighting and arguments. Unfortunately even the feminists are not grasping this huge shift yet, much less the rest of the general population. But kids like yours, and some adults see what has happened even if we don’t fully understand it.
That’s why there is so much what i call gender blending, not bending, seen today and also talked about so much. Because it is the forefront of naturalness that’s coming. That’s a good thing all in all for everyone.
Thank you so much for sharing this. It is really incredible how ignorant and short-sighted many people are. Blessings to you for championing C.J. and for being a voice of clarity and steadfast love in the midst of so much bigotry, prejudice and Unknowing.
This reminds me of the time back in the mid 80’s when my kids were at CJ ‘s school and we had one of the very first AIDS students at the school. There was a PTA mtg. Where the parents went off on this poor child’s parent because they were afraid their child would get AIDS from using the drinking fountains or the restroom . Parents were pulling there child out of RC
LEFT AND RIGHT ‘! Mob mentality is a scary thing, and a lot of it arises from fear and ignorance. Unfortunately, that school has had many issues in the past, but a least there is a good administrator there now who. will hopefully support any and all students that are non gender conforming ! Why can’t all bathrooms in schools, department stores, parks or wherever be like they are in Europe and the Middle East where they are unisex with an adjoining sink to wash up afterwards…anyone can go in to whatever side is available without a sign that shows a male or female ??! Easy solution to what some parents are going to continue making an issue of !! Go to the next meeting and make a recommendation to change ALL the schools restrooms to unisex !!
Unfortunately that would be too easy, not invented here idea, in this bizarre culture we have.
My son has anaphylactic food allergies. I stay away from discussions about it because of mob mentality. I was a member of a popular online mom’s group until I was cyberbullied about my son’s allergies. I developed a heart murmur it was so awful. It’s frightening how violent adults can be when they have a perceived threat to their little fragile flowers. Fortunately my son’s school is good about it…..ignorance is not bliss. I’m so grateful for this blog and your book, it was good to teach my kids so they can be allies.
The very sad thing is they teach this to their children so as much as us Moms of differently gendered kids want to think they are inconsequential, they really are not because our kids sit in class with their children all day long hearing who knows what. My son is CJs age and this worries me so much because I am not there to hear what is happening even though his Principal and teacher appear supportive.
Hi Lori, I’m impressed with your courage in posting this. I know that there are situations where I feel emotionally overwhelmed. and this certainly sounds like it was one such for you. In these situations I too sometimes say nothing, and then I am sorry later that I didn’t say more.
This post reminds me of such a time — I was talking to a co-worker about a comment she made that sounded kind of homophobic, but was in response to gender-non-conforming behavior that had nothing to do with sexual attraction. I explained to this coworker some of the difference between the two, and why the behavior didn’t indicate sexual orientation. My co-worker responded that she did not care at all about this, that all of it is sick! (or words to this effect). I was so floored and shocked that I am sorry to say I could not think of anything to say. I’m sorry I did not even respond that I do not see it that way. I still feel icky when I think of this situation and my lack of response.
Oh, and I am SO sorry about the rumors about CJ. That totally sucks. I hope that someone (NOT necessarily you) will go to the PTA (and anywhere else that moms congregate) and address the bathroom situations, address these rumors directly, and talk about the need for safe bathrooms for all kids. I think someone ELSE could go a long way toward defending you son. I pray that this can happen and that the situation can be brought around over time.
It never ceases to amaze me just how aggressively people will defend their (and their children’s) imagined right to bully, discriminate, and oppress other people.
Orange County. There you go!
Oh man! Unfortunately those mothers are not inconsequential, not to their children, not to other ears who believe their bigotry, and so the hatred continues. THANK GOODNESS they are inconsequential to you. And I hope from your comment they are also inconsequential to the school Admin and teachers. Another THANK GOODNESS CJ has landed in a safe home with you, your husband, and other son; a loving family. Love, Paulette
I’m disgusted with the way these parents behaved. If you’re in a position of power in the school, whether that means administration, being the teacher in the classroom, or even being in the PTA pushing for change to happen, you have a responsibility to make sure every child is being represented and advocated for. Your bias needs to be thoroughly checked and dealt with. You aren’t just there for your child, you should be there for EVERY child. Sorry you had to experience this.
You wrote a nice post, Katherine Jones. But I’m sorry my poor attempt at sarcasm made you explain all that. I was just irritated with the PTA mommies, who first of all were coming from a completely heteronormative viewpoint- boys are this and girls are that, and that’s the way it is. What I was trying to say was that if a girl does boy things they applaud her pluck, as long as in general she doesn’t cross over their perception range too much. But if a boy does almost anything in feminine territory then it immediately becomes an issue to be all up in arms about, and then the nastiness comes out, like it did in this meeting.
So a boy with long hair is suspect, but probably OK. If he puts barrettes in his hair to keep it out of his face then it becomes way not OK to these people. Add a skirt, maybe nail color, some cute pink backpack and irrespective of his self perceived gender or his emerging sexuality, these people start with the not in my bathroom comments.they cannot look past superficiality. Because primarily they really are superficial people.
If the person is truly transgender then unless they were also same sex attracted they would have no interest in their classmates who share a bathroom or a shower for that matter after gym. But these mommies can’t get past the point of if you look like one then you are only posing, or you have mental issues or whatever. So they must keep you in their own little mind boxes for them, not for the person their discussing.
I keep thinking about what to say that won’t make me sound like a hateful bitch but I can’t. I hope, with all of my heart and soul, that EVERY bit of hatred and bigotry comes back to them tenfold. Karma is a bitch!
All of my love to you and your beautiful family! You are not alone!
This is so sad! ALL children should be safe from bullying! More dialogue should definitely take place.
I feel utter rage on your behalf at this horrendous injustice and despicable ignorance. I am not surprised that you nearly exploded. But you are doing GREAT work, so chin up! Sending all my love to you and your family and everyone else raising a child in love, not hate x
As much compassion I feel toward you in what you had to experience, I don’t agree that that meeting should be the last you attend. If you’re going to keep your child in that school, you should (I feel) attend more meetings to advocate for your child and children alike. Bullying and close-mindedness begin at home, children reflect the views they learn at home. You might not be able to change the parents’ minds on things with gender identity, but you can make it known that you won’t stand for such negativity in a school that is supposed to be a safe environment for your child to grow and prosper through education. That of course is just my two cents.
OMG… That is my BIGGEST FEAR! We put Ky into our local elementary school this year at 3rd grade. The previous private school Ky grew up in from 3 years old to 2nd grade was going to force her to cut her hair like a boy – becuz of the dress code policies – even though we had asked the school board to make changes and eventually they said they didn’t see anything wrong with the currant policies!.. So Ky moved on to our local public elementary school – which scared the crap out of me – becuz she would start as Kylee and only a handful would know… but gossip travels fast so I’m sure more people know which makes me stare at others when we do anything at the school! So far things are good.. but I’m just waiting for a day like yours… I pray it never happens but home schooling is not beneath me~ Best of luck for all of us~~~
I know your pain, Kylee’s mom. That’s where we are, too. Some people certainly know. But some don’t…
I’m so sorry that you had to deal with that type of ignorance and negativity- you are a wonderful ray of light and you and Matt are fantastic parents! I now vow that when I have kids, I’ll attend the PTA meeting so moms like you aren’t alone. Strength in numbers!
My heart hurts for you; I wish you hadn’t had to experience that. Of course, even more, I wish that it hadn’t happened. Thank you for the painful but important reminder that there is still so very much work to be done. xo
That would be pretty much my worst nightmare – as my transgender daughter does use the girls’ bathroom. I share your raging sentiments exactly. As heinous as the sentiments expressed are, these women do not matter. But damn, it can be hard to convince my heart of that.
Ok. Maybe I’m a slow learner. So to be clear, transgender means just long hair on a boy and him wearing a skirt, or a girl with short hair in pants and who likes sports or woodworking? Man i am not getting this. So what is tje overall brouhaha all about? If i act like you , and dress like you, then i am you or am i not you. WTF do you want me to be to be safe to you?
There is quote from the author of this post that she wrote in a different post that I think explains things pretty well, so I’m going to start with that.
It goes something like, “Sex is what is in your underwear, gender is what is in your head, and sexuality is what is in your heart.” (Someone can correct me on that if I worded it incorrectly).
Essentially, a transgender identifies as the opposite gender of their sex.
And then the argument of a girl wearing pants and liking sports and woodworking is not something I really want to get into, but put shortly: that is not just transgender girls and when people think it is, that’s bordering on sexist because there are plenty of girls out there who prefer pants and kicking around a soccer ball and building things who still identify as girls.
And this is why I don’t understand why we can’t all just love each other and treat everyone equally regardless of their sex, gender, sexuality, etc. because in the end, we are all human and that’s what matters and everyone making all of these laws and generalizations and such just makes it way more complicated than it needs to be: you think of yourself as you think of yourself, you love who you love. It’s that simple.
That’s so awful. I’m sorry that people are so mean. People are often afraid of anything that challenges their belief system. If it doesn’t fit nicely into what they believe they will reject it vehemently. It makes them look at the world in terms more than black and white and that is hard for a lot of people.
Hugs to you and your family.
This is utterly sickening to me. What did the presenter do to diffuse the mob? It sounds like he just sat there and droned on? That sounds like an epic fail. He needs to come back and have a do-over because that “training” is unacceptable. Those parents were a lynch mob! Given their extreme reactions, I would also feel uncomfortable about sending my kid back to school, because the teachers and admins can’t be there all the time to see what is going on on the playground. I’m not sure who you’ve got working with the school, but TYFA and Gender Spectrum have a lot of experience dealing with the general public and could shut that sh*t down right now. I’m just appalled. Someone should have removed those parents. That was downright hostile and threatening to your child! And you *know* the kids of those parents are hearing it at home (so of course they’ll bring it to school when the teachers aren’t looking). UGH! My sympathies, mama. You handled it way better than I would have. I probably would have outted myself as the parent of this child and then it would have gotten ugly. My heart is racing just reading this entry… 😦 Please keep us posted with any updates on this.
I would have gotten up and let loose some choice words! Those Mums have no idea that all we want to do is go to the bathroom, we don’t care to see what you are doing in there. I am a transman and luckily have not experienced this, though I am also legally Deafblind and a chair user so if a bio male does guess, they think I just made a mistake, but I have never had any problems. I have however, known a few transwomen to get looks and even a few words.
If you are EVER looking for a group of Trans-Parents to stand behind you and beside you — count me in!
I feel for you, Lori! I love your little Rainbow.
I read this while taking a break from working ony dissertation. I could not finish it. I am in tears. I am so so sorry.
I am so proud that here in Chicago, we have a PFLAG chapter, by the name of; Parents of Transgender Individuals.
Reblogged this on Trans-polar express and commented:
I know these thoughts exist in the general populace, but sometimes I forget, then I remember again.
I am so sorry you experienced that, and I think you were absolutely right to keep quiet in that situation.
I do think though, like many other commenters, that you should go back — at least ONCE. I totally get not wanting to participate in PTA regularly, because who needs that kind of poison in their lives all the time?
But go back once, and make it *personal* for these parents. DON’T go alone – take your husband, or maybe even take a group of 10 family members that can stand behind you, and say “When you say these things about a kid, they are not just ‘some kid.’ They are MY child, and I want to tell you my story.” Tell them how you felt JUST LIKE THEM at the beginning – how you wanted CJ to conform because you thought it would truly end up leading to his happiness. Then how you saw how CJ felt when he was asked not to express himself while his brother could, to hide his interests and personality whenever you left the house. Tell how you researched the lives of kids that started out like this, and saw how many ended killing themselves or drowning their problems by abusing themselves, and how you and your husband came to the realization that you would do absolutely anything to keep CJ’s life from ending that way, including facing your own personal discomfort. Show them the statistics but tell them how you read those statistics as a future prediction of what your own precious baby would go through and how horrifying that is. Even the most bigoted parents can understand the fear a parent feels for the life of their child – some (or even many?) of them may be willing to acknowledge and respect that fear. Then show how CJ’s life got better and how you are happy to let him be himself and to face your own fears about fitting in, etc. because of your love for him as a parent.
If you come in as a parent ready to defend their kid, narrow-minded people will dismiss you as “a well-meaning parent that’s actually screwing up their kid.” But if you come in as a parent that totally gets how they feel because YOU USED TO FEEL THAT WAY TOO, maybe some of them will come on the journey with you.
Then take your entire family and leave. You told your/CJ’s story, and while I’m not sure that anyone will take up trans/gender nonconforming kids cause in the PTA, I feel fairly sure that you will have HUMANIZED the issue for at least one person there. Who knows what can come of that? That’s the first step.
I wish you well. I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but you and your entire family are doing really important work by putting your lives out there so others can learn from your experience. My husband is bisexualish & gender-bendy, and while he hasn’t been interested in the other parenting things I’ve shown him (we’re planning to adopt soon) he devoured your book in a day because it spoke to him. Thank you!
Beautifully put! I echo your sentiment.
I don’t “like” this at all, Lori, but there is no “in solidarity” button, so the “like” will have to do.
So sorry that you had to sit through that fiasco, Lori. All those fine ladies who most likely publically patting themselves on the back for being the probable Christians they are, forgetting yhat part about loving thy neighbors and God’s love for all His children. They have no isdue sexualizing their kids but notice in the heteronormal way? Did it not occur to tjem that at least some of their kids will probably come out sooner yjsn later and therefore it wasn’t the opposite sex’s stuff they were looking at? Somehow that idea never crosses their mind.
What i’d like to see is a PR campaign like don’t be a litterbug” but instead “don’t be a jerk”. A systemically supported campaign that rewarded good behavior and penalized boors would probably be the best way to successfully stop bullying.
Oh, my heart breaks for you. As a member of the LGBT community in the south, and a mom myself, I don’t know how you sat there. The ignorance in the world still today just astounds me. You and your family are my heroes!
Shame on this school! SHAME! Love to you and your family for letting your children be authentically themselves. ❤
Brought tears to my eyes, I was that kid using the “correct” bathroom and was constantly told I was in the wrong bathroom, women brought in their boyfriends, husbands, security guards to haul me out for using the wrong bathroom until they realized I WAS indeed female, but no apologies, just disgust in their eyes and body language, that I was trying to pull a fast one on them somehow. When really, I just needed to pee. As an adult, and a comfortable-in-my-skin transguy, using the men’s room is far easier, guys don’t care. No one wants to look at their children’s genitalia, it’s the parents that have the issues, not the kids. As one mom said, everyone uses the same bathroom at their home, so what’s the big deal at school.? These parents have the hostile “us vs them” mentality, and are sad and suffering humans who shouldn’t be given the great gift of raising children if this is what they pass onto them.
Reblogged this on coffeepoweredmom and commented:
Imagine being in this mother’s shoes. I would have burst into tears.
I am an ally.
Their behaviour makes me want to throw up. I’m sorry for your experience.
Everytime I hear or read about an incident such as yours I have two thoughts: Those people need to find out one of their own children is GLB and the other thought is that it would be so sad for the children to have such parents. I really think you and your family are so special and TJ is so lucky. It is sad that the world has people who are so closed minded as these PTA mothers.
Reblogged this on Busy Nurse Research and commented:
Every so often, it’s tempting to think that the fight for equality is won or nearly so. Sadly, incidents such as this are stark reminders that even if the battle had been completely won at the legal level (which it most certainly has not) that is a long way from people actually understanding and treating one another as equal.
Having been a boy like C.J., you remind me so much of my own Mom who was very progressive for the early 1970’s when I started school. She would also have sat quietly and “bitten her tongue”, knowing that she would figure out what to do or not to do later after she stopped wanting to slap the crap out of one of those mothers. I wish your book had been there for her to read then!
Mob mentality is right. What you describe leaves me shaking with distress,close to tears even. What those moms are doing is bullying. They were intent on creating this mob mentality from the word go. I am so sorry that you had to sit through something as awful as that and kudos for keeping your composure. I don’t know what I would have done. What awful ignorance! I think it is safe to say that those moms are speaking from a basis of fear and a stubborn insistence on not expanding their horizons. That would mean that their cushy little world view might get upset!
I am so sorry you had to go through this – there must be loads of parents who don’t think like that at all, unfortunately with people loudly demonstrating their ignorance, they get drowned out.
I wouldn’t go back ever either. I am so sorry.
Oh man. See, I think I would have been the obnoxious mom screaming back at them. But you handled this with grace and poise. That had to be the hardest thing I have ever read in a while. I can’t believe there are people reacting like this. I mean – I do believe it, but so blatant and so little disregard for anyone’s feelings. And to think they are teaching their kids to be that way…. oh, I fear for the next generation sometimes, with parents like this. I’m so sorry you had to go through that and I don’t blame you one bit for never going to another meeting again!
This is sad and a little disgusting that adults can feel that it’s ok to behave that way in public. And I think you were right to leave instead of reacting in the heat of the moment. However leaving them to their own ignorance and hatred could come back to bite you later. And who better than
CJ’s Mom to try and educate them?
If the cries of “There are TWO of them?!” are true then I suspect you had at least one ally in the room, probably more, who also felt too shocked and outnumbered to speak up. Maybe one brave voice is all they need.
I’m not an expert on these matters but were it me I would at the very least have to show up at EVERY meeting wearing a “CJ’s Mom” or “GLSEN” or “PFLAG” or some other such t-shirt so they know exactly who they are dealing with and are forced to either show their bigotry to my face or keep it to themselves. They need to know that not everyone in the room agrees with them and that it’s NOT OK to rage against children, whatever the circumstances. Of course there are other more direct and productive paths you could take as well as suggested by others here.
Either way, whatever you decide to do I know it will only be with the goal of protecting your child… so it will certainly be the right thing.
In Lori Duron’s book, she mentioned that her older boy has gotten bullied by kids who assume if his brother is that way, he must be too. So maybe that parent was going off of second-hand misunderstanding based on that bullying.
Thank you for sharing your story with us. I honestly don’t know what I would have done in that situation, but I would hope I would have remained as a strong as you did. It saddens me about how ignorant some people can be, and their unwillingness to be open minded. I don’t blame you for not wanting to attend a PTA meeting ever again. When people get in that mob mentality…I don’t think there’s anything you could have said or done to change their minds. 😦
Reblogged this on Charissa's Grace Notes and commented:
Constance, I am reblogging this post from the amazing Lori Duron who writes over at “Raising My Rainbow”…one of the very best WP joints in this platform.
Please head over for a writing treat…but be ready to have to actually be a human being who strives to practice the golden rule…or you won’t last.
Obvi, I push “like” to affirm your pov in this post, and that is it, nothing else likeable here.
Reblogged this on This Oregonian Girl and commented:
I don’t normally reblog, but this post just hit a nerve with me. This woman, and her husband, are amazing parents their child. The intolerance that they have to endure is just incredible.
How terrible for you and your family! I feel outraged for you! Those women, ugh. They need to be slapped. I’m so sorry. You sound like an amazing parent, a dream parent for any LGBTQ child. Your son is incredibly lucky to have the support system that he does from his family, and his life will be so much better because of you! I don’t know how you can keep your mouth shut around those people, I’d end up in jail.
OMG! How horrible for you to have had to experience the gross intolerance and ignorance of those people! I sincerely hope that their children are not influenced by their misguided beliefs and even more horrid behavior. Stay strong!
I live in Southern California (but not in Orange County.) Orange County has a well-deserved reputation for being a very conservative place. Of course, I am sure many people who live there aren’t like these PTA moms, but way too many are. I am going to send this post to my young adult daughters. I want them to think long and hard before considering a move “behind the Orange curtain” as we like to say out in the hinterlands.
Reblogged this on Literature Life and Lattes and commented:
That’s what scares me about the school system. Where I live these moms have way too much power. But be assured not all moms on PTAs hold these views. I was a member for many years. I wish my trams child had come out sooner than high school. I’m glad your child is free to be who they are! Thanks for everything you are doing for us parents of gender non conforming children.
How did you not lose it? OMG, I admire you so much.
You are so brave and strong, and I love that we get to hear so much of a parent’s point of view in your blog. We don’t often hear the other side’s perspective. And because you’re so strong, I have a feeling that you may eventually go back to a PTA meeting and be a voice of reason. And even if you don’t, this blog is such a strong voice of reason! Thank you!
I think the school and the presenter should have been better prepared for the conflict that was going to come up. The principal has surely heard some of the complaints before and was probably hoping the presentation would help.
Perhaps the mothers interpreted the discussion of the survey as a suggestion that their children were bullies and became defensive.
I’m not sure what would work, but I think the situation at your school has to be dealt with somehow. Maybe the principal could talk to people individually? If your son is not using the boys’ bathroom, perhaps knowing that would make the parents feel better.
I do not think the PTA is inconsequential. PTA parents have a lot of influence at a school, especially an elementary school. In addition, what you saw is a measure of what the parents of your kids’ peers really think about the situation. That must percolate back to your kid.
My advice is to go in and talk to the principal about the PTA meeting. Ask about the school climate for your kid and possible follow-up with the parents.
You may also want to talk to the PTA president and find out what she thinks. It’s possible that some of the people at the meeting were not active PTA members.
I agree that you should speak to the principal about the meeting, and DO go back. While it will definitely be challenging, next time you will be prepared, so you will be able to speak clearly what needs to be said. Have your husband there to support you, and anyone else who you think would help. My somewhat gender non-conforming son was bullied from 5th-8th grade pretty severely, merely for supporting the idea that girls could be anything they wanted. He was called “gay” as an insult daily, and the intermediate school counselor refused to do anything about it because “the kids are too young to talk about sex”. Despite repeated attempts to get her to realize that using “gay” was all about discriminatory bullying, and not at all about sex, nothing was done. By middle school, it had gotten so bad that he was being grabbed in the genitals. Eventually, I told my son to go ahead and take down the two worst bullies, come what may. He used a neat pressure point trick a lesbian at our church showed him to leave them lying on the floor, unable to move for a few moments. At the time, I knew my son was supported at home and at church, and was a strong kid who was pretty confident in himself and thought that was enough. In retrospect, I wish I had been more insistent about having the school address gender based bullying. The PTA moms in my school wielded an enormous amount of power, and the kids of the most involved moms were seen as “good kids” who won most of the local scholarships to college last spring when my son graduated. I never brought my concerns to the PTA, and I’m not sure how they would have reacted. Since your PTA brought up the issue, and clearly feels fine both gay and trans bashing, it is important to be a voice against such bullying.
PS- My son is doing fine and is planning to major in Women’s and Gender Studies at college.
Wow. Maybe I just live in a social bubble of acceptance, because I am always shocked to be reminded that these archaic attitudes still exist! Among adults! Completely shocked. I can’t give any advice on what to do about CJs school, but it does mean we sure as hell need the many wonderful people like yourself, advocating for such an important issue. The battle isn’t over yet. I can see you have a lot of support, despite what happened in the pta meeting. Knock em dead.
What a bunch of ignorant bitches. I noticed nobody had the nerve to talk to you directly. That kind of the is so sad because you know they are teaching it to their kids.
I just want to let you know I support you. I expect this kind of behavior from the PTA members at my children’s schools in Texas and I am brokenhearted to read that it’s no better in Orange County. How rude and ignorant. These are the people who have no problems sharing their opinions as facts while considerate people such as you share their perspective in a much more mindful manner. Power to you. You don’t want to fit in with these folks.
“. I will never argue about goldfish crackers; of that you can be sure.” I love this line. It is so understated, and says so much. Nice writing.
As an officer on our local PTA board and the parent of a transgender child, I commend the board for their attempts to educate but I am embarrassed that nothing was done to curb the hateful comments. My heart is heavy reading this. Don’t let the comments of an ignorant few drain you.
Exactly! This should not be a reflection of PTA as an organization. The PTA brought in the speaker from GLSEN and CAPTA supported AB 1266. It’s unfortunate that these people attending the meeting created a hostile environment and weren’t shut down properly. . .
Actually, I think you should keep going to the PTA meetings. If they say something horrible, call them the hell out on it. That’s completely uncalled for, and it’s just wrong that no one was going to speak up in defense of the kids who needed anti-bullying measures so badly that laws were put into place to protect them. PTA people can be a little off the wall. They can be long and drawn out, full of controversy (at my school it’s “why do we have all these students who *can’t* afford to do these millions of things we want them to do?”). But if no one goes, if no one stands up for those who need to have someone stand up for them, how can we expect to see change?
I’m really sorry that people were that mean to you, and worse, they probably didn’t even realize how they made you feel. From a mom of a son who was Rainbow Dash, skirt and all, for Halloween, I hope you can find some solidarity that it’s ok for your son not to conform to gender stereotypes.
I definitely applaud you on your self control. Reading this, I got so angry at these parents. Such a lack of understanding and ignorance.
The “gender police” are everywhere and it’s ever so frightening to see them react so strongly to a child. I applaud you for going to the meeting and not knocking someone out, verbally or literally. It’s the continued ignorance and closed mindedness that is hard to take sometimes, but knowing the administration and your son’s teacher supports you/CJ is important to remember so you don’t feel you have to run from the school due to the parent body’s ignorance. Deep breaths, feel proud you have such a brave and wonderful family, you are paving a road for others that will make it better for everyone behind you.
I’ve never been to the toilet at a school in the US, but don’t the cubicles have doors there?
As for urinals, in all my years of using them, I’ve never (even as a child) found them to be opportunities for showing or discussing penises. If there’s a child in the boys’ toilet with no penis, they will surely use a stall with a door, if there’s a child in the girls’ toilet who does have a penis, again they will surely use a stall with a door. Truly, if these parents don’t want their kids talking about penises, vulvas and other body parts they are embarrassed about, they should be more worried about the playground than the toilets.
Of course, all of this is preaching to the choir. We all know that the rules under discussion are there to protect our children from harassment. By the same token, the Professionally Outraged are immune to reason and are going to be strident regardless of anything you do.
The new secondary school that just opened near my house has toilet stalls with doors arranged around a common hand-washing area. I have no idea why the ones on the left have a big “BOY” symbol above them and the ones on the right have a big “GIRL” symbol above them. There is no difference whatsoever once you close the door. Go figure.
Sigh. We don’t have gender specific restrooms at my house and of the dozens of kids that have been in and out of here, there’s never been an issue. I really do wish the general public could learn and accept that gender and sexuality are separate things. Love you bye.
Scary stuff for sure…….sorry you had to go through that. As a school principal who sits through PTA meetings I’m sitting here now trying to think of what I would have said……
Reading this as my kid goes back to bed because zie can’t handle going to school today.
*drags in a whole sack of quarters for the clue machine*
If those don’t work, feel free to hit them with it.
Ugh. I’m sorry they behaved like that. That’s awful.
WOW, just wow…makes me nervous for my sparkly little guy who starts school next year…
Excruciating for you and horrid for the presenter. But this isn’t a PTA thing, this is a rude, loud-mouthed, ignorant, bigoted moron thing. Illegitimi non carborundum.
You don’t need me to tell you that that sucks donkey (I think that’s the term you use in the US), big time.
Stay strong. You are an inspiration to families on both sides of the Atlantic. My personal battle is getting the school governing body (by God’s grace, I’m a member) to see that my constant ranting about gender isn’t utterly irrelevant. They’re good people by and large, they just don’t see the relevance yet. I hope I get it through to them before my 7-year-old leaves the school…
Sorry you had to sit through that. At first I thought, “Oh yeah, Orange County.” But this is still happening everywhere and always has. We are not safe anywhere. You are powerful and should think about continuing to attend meetings if only to present the other side Hatred and fear are not pleasant emotions to be around but left on their own can become dangerous.
I couldn’t agree more with this comment by gtrac, Lori. Perhaps a really great thing would be to ask the administration to allow a presentation to the PTA at the next meeting to deal with this issue as it is their responsibility now to deal with this issue. That meeting shows exactly why their school is not safe for LGBTQ kids and now that it’s in their face, it’s their responsibility to deal with it. The principal needs to address them specifically regarding the laws and affirm that administration is behind them and will enforce them. They should consider having a PFLAG panel to come in for a presentation. Please contact me if you would like us to do this. Follow us is definitely needed and required at this point. Perhaps it would be easier if others stepped in who do not have a child at the school. We have practice in doing this and I just recently did it at a middle school in the Tustin Unified School district. This is Christie with the South Orange County Chapter of PFLAG and I am the Outreach Coordinator (yes, you know me! 🙂 )
My heart aches that you had to experience this. I am also incredibly disheartened that none of the other parents attending had the courage to speak up with another point of view. The need is so great in Orange County. Perhaps with further work on the subject, more of the more open minded parents might feel able to speak their truths and not allow hatred for children of any gender expression to be spoken in a school setting.
I feel my blood boiling just reading about your experience at the PTA meeting. Ignorance breeds fear and fear breeds hatred. The really sad part about all this is that these ignorant parents will pass their fearful and hate-filled views on to their children, and the cycle will continue. Since ignorance is the root cause of the fear and hatred, education is vital in order to help these parents understand LGBT and gender issues AND learn tolerance and acceptance. I think I am more disappointed in the PTA leaders who allowed this rude behavior to continue among these parents. On the one hand, bravo to the PTA for taking the initiative to address this issue; on the other hand, shame on them for not demanding that comments and questions be kept respectful. I understand that some of these parents will probably never change their prejudiced views about LGBT and gender issues, but they darn well better learn to be KIND to others regardless of our differences. THAT is the message behind anti-bullying, and THAT is the message they need to be conveying to their own children.
Unfortunately a large majority of PTAs are overrun by domineering, close minded, ignorant women and their henchmen. You must steel yourself for a battle if you contradict or challenge these bully moms, and many kind and thoughtful mothers can not will themselves to take on that battle. I think that as an advocate, you must face this though. Maybe write an open letter for them to read at the next meeting? I am most bothered by the fact that the parent’s perception of LGBT is distorted through a sort of ‘sexual’ lens, such as “I don’t want a girl in the boys bathroom looking at my son’s penis!” This is a ridiculous statement. These children ARE children and the concerns are absurd, twisted and wrong. If there is anyone deviant, it is these mothers who are sexualizing children who have different gender identities. Gender is not sex! Honestly, these parents need a smack down. You have just experienced the bullying that we need to protect children from. Those attitudes come from the families and they need to be set straight. But…I do understand how exhausting and futile it can be. Sometimes the only thing you can do is shake your head and walk away.
I agree that you need to make some type of response. Not defensive (CJ does NOT use the girl’s rest room!) but telling a condensed version of your story. These parents need to hear stories again, and again. And laurakmeyer is exactly right: They do need to hear that gender is not sex.
Reblogged this on JerBear's Queer World News, Views & More From The City Different – Santa Fe, NM and commented:
This reminds me of some scary meetings I was part of…
So sorry you had to experience this. You should never go to these things alone. Even at our progressive school we know we need to identify and collect our allies when venturing into gender and LGBT issues with parents and administration. There are many of us here who would be happy to back you up in such a situation – just let us know.
While I admire your ability to identify the hateful behavior of those PTA moms (and dads) as their problem and not yours, i have to disagree about one thing: their opinions are consequential. The PTA leaders are responsible for establishing a tone of interaction at meetings that honors a wide range of opinions, and this is not what happened. If the behavior you described goes unchecked at an official PTA event, then the organization at your school is not healthy. An unhealthy PTA will undermine even the best administration’s attempts to create a safe school culture for gender nonconforming kids.
If the school administration or teachers or parents are not ready or willing to confront your PTA for failing to provide a safe and welcoming space for all parents, then who can be trusted to confront failures to provide a safe and welcoming environment for children at the school? Maybe you think your PTA can be saved from itself (perhaps by a few dozen of us showing up at the next meeting to call them out? just a thought)., Otherwise, I think your husband is on the right track.
I agree with this comment. You might consider touching base with the speaker for the meeting and getting his input. If they’re following Robert’s Rules of Order, they’ll ask about the previous meeting at the next one and you (and several friends) will have the opportunity to say your piece, if you wish. I understand if you decide against this. It must be very difficult.
BTW, if you do decide to speak out at the next meeting, investigate all your options ahead of time and be prepared to follow through. Good luck!
Geez Lori, I’m so sorry you had to endure that. I don’t think I could have remained composed. You have the strength of 1000 warriors. I didn’t conform to the PTA meetings, but that was a long time before Tanner came out. I say to hell with them. You just keep doing what you do for C.J. and the LGBTQ community. You are a gift.
I’m so so sorry that you were subjected to that ignorance. I can’t imagine it! I can’t imagine what I would have done! How sick and angry I would have felt!
I have an idea… Let’s use this awesome creativity that your family brings to the world- let’s RE-imagine the meeting. But this time, instead of you in the corner listening to BS, you can only hear all of your supporters/fans/friends/family! Let’s imagine that we are all in the room with you! We would fill that space so many times over! There’s NO room for the closed minded. There’s no sound they could make that would be heard over the cheers for your and your family’s bravery! You’d feel so supported and comforted by all of us who cherish what you do and what you’ve given to the world, you wouldn’t even remember that those other, unimportant cowards were there. We’d all walk out together, happy in our joy, love and community. We are real. We are important to and for one another.
It sounds like YOU are the one who got bullied, and I know it’s hard, but if you don’t stand up and say something, who will? There may have been another parent in the room feeling just as angry as you. Regardless of how you choose to handle your local PTA, I have great admiration for you for writing this blog, and for all the other things you do to provide a wonderful childhood for your kids.
Wow, how did you manage to not, like, flip a table or something? I’m impressed.
I live in Laguna Niguel and have a transgender son who went to Sage Hill (he is now 26). While there may well have been whispering behind hands there was none of the overtly disgusting vile comments made by some of these people at your PTA & the staff were (at least to my face) very supportive. However, when he was at Aliso Viejo Middle School his life was made hell by ignorant children who had even more ignorant parents. As much as I support you & your childs right to be in a community school & to be treated with equality some times it is better to take time & re-evaluate. The damage done to a child by being in a toxic environment can often take years (decades) to undo, there are other school options available if you need to find something & yes I know you should not have to but retreat is not withdrawal….It is about gathering strength for the battle to come
Hi Katie, I am so sorry to read this recap about your son’s experience at AVMS. If it is any encouragement, AVMS is the first school in CUSD and in Orange County, in fact, to start a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) in a middle school with the TOTAL support of the principal. They even put out a video showing all the safe space signs that are up EVERYWHERE all over the office and the school, and showing various teachers (and students) talking about the club and the need for one of the middle school campus). They will be the blue-print for the district in regards to this and it is a ground-breaking move for the LGBTQ middle school community. I am so sad that your son did not have the opportunity to experience this at the middle school level, but perhaps he will be helped knowing that just his being at that school assisted in the creation of a club to help others in the same situation. Christie, South Orange County PFLAG
Thanks for your response, I am so happy to hear that more GSA/LGBTQ groups are in Middle Schools now. Like I said my son is now 26, time does move thing forward but children caught up in the transition to a truly safe school environment can be extremely vulnerable.
Dang it. Slow learner here. Do if i ersr nailpolish but am Angelina Jolie’s secret and 11/10 lover am i transgender. Dang i can’t keep this straight!!!!! Lol!
My mother was PTA President three times while I was growing up and District Representative for Long Beach to the California PTA. She passed away two months ago or I’d call her with this so that she could join you in your anger and frustration. She definitely would not have tolerated this type of behavior or hatred, I st can’t wrap my mind around it!Did the principal say anything? I’m a 5th grade teacher and I can imagine my principal remaining quiet during this. I’m so sorry you had to go through this, it does break our hearts. Please know that there are people out here who care for C.J. as if he were one of our own.
My heart breaks a little hearing that story. I’m so sorry you had to sit through it. You have bravely stood up and told the truth in your blog, in your book and before the world. You have opened doors and changed minds and hearts. You are a fierce advocate for LGBTQ and gender creative kids. So I hope that one little room doesn’t get you down though I get why it matters right now. This time it was really personal and thank goodness it was someone else’s job to educate those ignorant people. It didn’t need to be you that time. If I’m ever in that situation I hope I can keep it together like you did.
Goodness, I can’t believe we live in the same county; that sounds more like middle American than Southern California. PTA meetings are not for me either, but I can’t imagine the parents at my school acting like that about my mtf daughter who actually does use the girl’s bathroom, that’s just unbelievable!
This breaks my heart.
mine too. Sorry you experienced that.
I feel the same way. 😦