I concluded yesterday's post, "We are not doomed to repeat history. The next generation is. Personally and professionally, we must teach our children. Well."
Last night, Cristie and I were kissing Scout goodnight, and as kids often do just before bed, she came out with something she didn't want to sleep on: She said she's afraid to stick up for gay people when her fourth-grade classmates say mean things about them. She knows where she stands on the issue, because her gay aunts are the mothers of her cousin Parker and she knows it's not "gross." But the other kids say it is, and she's afraid that if she argues with them she'll lose friends, or worse.
I told Scout that her friends don't really think gay people are gross. (By and large, their parents are an urban liberal demographic that loves gays and Starbucks and Robert Segal and Melissa Block equally.)
I told her that there are good things about kids and bad things about kids and one of the bad things about kids is that kids can really be jerks to each other. So kids are afraid of each other, and will do anything to place themselves in the majority. And since gays are in the minority, nervous kids will say something mean about them out of a desperate determination to be safely and snugly in the norm. And other nervous kids will agree with the nervous kids. And suddenly the nervous kids will start feeling confident in their numbers, other kids will start feeling nervous.
Then Cristie said some wise stuff about the options Scout has—she can walk away quietly or she can say something out loud—and we both said it's her job to do one or another. And then I brought up the Holocaust, which she has been studying as you know. I said that Jews weren't the only people killed in the Holocaust. I said they made gays wear pink triangles, and they killed many thousands of them. I said that the basic instinct of nervous and worried people to make themselves look normal by declaring other people weird was what made the Holocaust possible.
"That's how important this is," I told her.
People love to say that our children don't have any problem at all with gays, transgendered people or other races or religions. They love to say that because it means the progress we think we're making on these issues is permanent.
Goodnight, sweetie. I love you.