Saturday, June 23, 2007

Gay Children?

One of the things I am always impressed with is how early many of my gay friends report knowing they were different. This feeling of difference jibes with my own feelings growing up male but not feeling that that was right-that I too was very different inside. So why am I disturbed by this article in the Village Voice titled "Queer in the Crib?"

http://www.villagevoice.com/nyclife/0725,reischel,76971,15.html

What's disturbing about this article is we have yet another way to use kids to project adult beliefs and desires. The article for instance, has a five or six year old dressed in leather with handcuffs-quite the old guard looking s/m practitioner. Young kids certainly develop a sense of their gender and sexual identities and do a lot of experimenting. I react the same way when I see little boys forced into sports because daddy is a frustrated ball player or little girls forced into ballet because mommy is a frustrated dancer.

One of the specialists quoted in the article says:
"We needed a category that would be descriptive of children that were not old
enough to declare gender or sexuality in the adult sense," he says. 'Because,
obviously, a five-year-old is not going to know what they are in terms of
sexuality or gender.' "
And it looks like people are setting on "gender variance" as a way of describing kids who don't seem to fit the normal pattern of gender related behavior. I am just not sure this is a good idea. Labels can be valuable but labels develop a life on their own and that is not always a good thing and could lead to an unnecessary intrusion of "services" into kid's lives. There is a principle in quantum mechanics which says that the observer affects the experiment. Kids aren't experiments, but the idea is the same.

Parents ought to be there for kids and help kids develop and influence that development in positive ways...but not turn them into little poster children. Kids do develop a sense of who and what they are early and need to be able to turn to parents for advice. Lord knows my parents couldn't give me any help with my struggles prepuberty let alone puberty, but this article is a sort of pandering which I don't see as being good for kids. Kids need space and time to develop on their own, not to become pawns the the culture wars or become little sexualized robotized consumers.
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