Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Representative Ike Skelton is worried about "What Do Mommies and Daddies say to their 7-year-old child?" (About Homosexuality) How About this?

My daughter's family portrait

An Open Letter To Representative Ike Skelton, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee:

Dear Representative Skelton, I am the Father of a 7 year old child. And I am a homosexual. In fact, so is my daughter's other father, my husband. So you can imagine that we've had to deal with the issue of how to talk with our child about homosexuality. And far from it being scary or frightening - it's actually a pretty simple conversation. Here it is in 7-year-old-speak:
Some men fall in love with women. Some men fall in love with men.

Love is love, and everyone who finds love is very fortunate.
Some women fall in love with men. Some women fall in love with women.

Love is love, and everyone who finds love is very fortunate.
There. That wasn't that hard, was it? So now you don't have any reason to object to the "national conversation on homosexuality" you're so afraid that repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell will bring about. 'Cause all those mommies and daddies - and even you - well now everyone will know what to say.


Lee Wind

Why did I write this letter?

Here's the New York Times article on what Representative Skelton said:

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said Tuesday that he thought the military should keep its ban on openly gay service members in part because he did not want to open a national discussion about homosexuality. The chairman, Representative Ike Skelton, a conservative Missouri Democrat, said he thought the debate in Congress over the proposed repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy might force families to explain homosexuality to their children. “What do mommies and daddies say to their 7-year-old child?” Mr. Skelton asked reporters at a news media breakfast.

Wanna sign the petition to demand an apology from Rep. Skelton? Go here!



fairyhedgehog said...

It's a great letter, Lee, and it's a pity it's needed.

Angela said...

7 year olds? My dtr asked me when she was 3 if a woman could marry another woman. I said yes ...not knowing it would still be difficult in the US this many years later (she's now 14)

Lisa Jenn said...

Love the letter, Lee. At my library I occasionally encounter parents (and even other librarians, unfortunately) who talk about "not being ready" to discuss x, y, or z with their children. And that's exactly what it is: it's adults, not children, who aren't ready for these conversations. Adults can choose the appropriate level of detail/discourse based on their child's maturity, but IMO there's a way to talk about everything in the world, if you boil it down to simple terms like "happy" and "sad," "hurt" and "help" and "love."

ivanova said...

Way to go, nice letter!

So, let me make sure I have this right. Ike Skelton thinks it's easy to explain to your seven-year old about war and the armed forces, but hard to explain about gay people. . .?

fourth Musketeer said...

That's a great letter, Lee. I love your daughter's family portrait also.

A couple of years ago I brought home And Tango Makes Three to show to my then 13-year old daughter and explained to her that it was the most banned library book in the country. She couldn't understand why someone wouldn't like that book...it's not the kids with the problems, that's for sure.

Daniel Teeter said...

Making someone apologize for being an idiot sounds kind of pointless.

Put in your simple terms, Lee, you'd have to wonder why so many parents are troubled by the discussion. If the parent's viewpoint includes "we don't believe that man should love a man, etc" the trouble with them must be in owning up to it. They'll have to reveal their bigotry to their children and face whatever consequences unfold thereafter. Easier to just to wish it all away.

The letter (and many others like it) may be the best strategy.

Laurie Young said...

Thank you, Lee, for this simple, yet thorough explanation. Recently my 7-year-old nephew asked me what a "homo" was, (after hearing one of his uncles joking call another uncle that term.) I really didn't know what to say, or how to explain it to a child, so I quickly changed the subject. This is such an simple way to answer the question in terms they can easily understand. Now to explain it to the adults . . .

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

fairyhedgehog - thanks! I agree.

Angela - Yeah, it's a story we've had to deal with from day 1!

Lisa, absolutely. It really does boil down to those simple terms.

Ivanova - yeah, finding those "simple terms" for war is much harder!

fourth musketeer - I love that book! And yeah, it's NOT the kids!

Daniel - good point about the parents not wanting to be shamed about their own prejudices. That's going to be happening more and more... And I too, struggled with demanding an apology from him - but I guess it helps keep him accountable for saying uneducated things, and that's a good goal.

Thank you Laurie, it's really giving everyone the tools to talk about gay people being - at the core of it all - people, too, that will change our world.

Thank you all for commenting, and for being part of the change!