For too long I have seen my gay friends discriminated against for being who they are, for embracing the truth. And as I became a mother, I’ve seen them continue to be pushed out and feared where kids are concerned. I’ve seen gay couples not invited to birthday parties or play-dates because parents might have to explain what “gay” is to their children. It’s a peculiar little secret that we nervy straight couples don’t talk about – kind of our own special brand of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Although, lesbian couples, and particularly ones with children, seem to be less feared,
“Yes, Virginia, Johnny has two mommies…” but two daddies, and no mommy? What will Virginia think? "Shhh… don’t say anything! Let’s just hope and pray she doesn’t ask.”
When I heard about Oak Reed from an old friend, a Mona Shores High School graduate who took a girl not a boy to Homecoming twenty seven years ago because he was afraid to say the truth too loud in Muskegon, Michigan in 1983, my first reaction was, the parents… it was probably a panicked parent or group of parents who marched down to the principal’s office to “straighten this Homecoming King matter out!”
“What will we tell the younger kids, the incoming freshman that dream of being Homecoming King someday? We can’t have a (Shhh!) transgender winning this popularity contest!”
Of course, it’s only speculation, but all it takes is one panicky parent to set fear-a-fire in a principal’s office, to hint a lawsuit if a “wannabe male” takes this iconic title away from some “wholesome” high school quarterback.
Now for my second reaction… Toot and Puddle.
When my daughter was four years old she had a close friend who had a twin brother. I’m calling these twins “Toot and Puddle” to protect their privacy, but also because I love this children’s story about two little pigs who are very different.
Both of these twin brothers loved to play dress up with my daughter and her friends at preschool. Both brothers loved to fantasize about what they would be when they grew up. Puddle wanted to be either a fireman or a policeman. Toot only wanted to be Snow White. And any grown-up suggesting Toot should change out of his Snow White, off the shoulder, gown and into some pants would clearly and loudly hear from his biggest supporter, my daughter...
“He told you he wants to be Snow White!! Just Snow White! Now give him back his high heels!”
Kids know the truth and recognize its strength long before their parents open their mouths to suggest otherwise.
If a parent did try to undue Oak Reed’s truth by putting pressure on Mona Shores’ principal and the school district, I sincerely hope that he or she will graciously step up, apologize, then step out of the way.
The students and their votes can speak for themselves at Mona Shores High. It's time. It's long overdue. Now, it's the grown-ups turn to take notes, listen and learn.