Lesbian Is Not a Dirty Word

Relationships with other parents were so much simpler when my children were little. That’s  primarily because we all had the same rules for our children: share with each other, don’t hit when you get mad and don’t throw temper tantrums, especially not in public.

But as our children get older, the issues become more complicated. And so do the relationships with other parents.  Because the tougher the issues are, the more likely the adults are to have different values and opinions.

Take the issue of love and relationships.

My husband and I have always believed in tolerance and love. It doesn’t matter who you love. What matters is that you do love and, hopefully, are loved back.  The power of love is so much greater than bigotry and hate, and  we’ve tried to pass down that value to our children.

But not everyone shares that value.  There are those people who believe that there is a right kind of love and a wrong kind of love.  And they pass that value down to their children.

Unfortunately in that process, they try to pass their values down to other children too.

Take a recent incident in the neighborhood.  Like so much neighborhood drama, it started on the school bus.

A neighbor boy called my daughter and her BFF lesbians.

My daughter was completely unaffected by the comment.  She probably would have  forgotten about it if her best friend hadn’t told her father, who completely freaked out. In fact, I wouldn’t have even know about the incident if  the BFF’s parents hadn’t felt the need to include me in on their concerns.

“They were called a name,” the frantic father told me.

“What name?” I asked.

“I can’t say it in front of the girls,” he said. “When they are older and learn what it means, it will scar them.”

This seemed ridiculous to me since his daughter had obviously heard “the name” and had repeated it  to him.  But, my daughter, who never misses anything, reinforced the concept.

“I already know what ‘it’ means,” she said.

At this point, I was still completely unaware of what “it” was, but my daughter caught my confusion.  “Lesbian,” she whispered.

The BFF’s father looked a bit confused then muttered, “Well my daughter doesn’t know what it means.”

Being raised not to think any of this was a big deal, my daughter immediately chimed in, “Yes she does. I told her.”

Here’s the deal.  If my son or daughter even mentions an issue related to sex or sexuality, I make sure to contribute to the conversation. I want to ensure they get the facts. I’ve seen the research that shows the more accurate  information youth have, the more likely they are to make safe choices when the time comes.  Which means there are a lot of interesting, and honest, conversations in my house.

Apparently, those conversations aren’t happening in the home of my daughter’s BFF.  Instead, she’s  getting her sex education on the school bus.

After getting over his initial shock that my ten-year old daughter had told his ten-year old daughter what a lesbian is, the BFF’s  father ranted on.

I only heard a small part of what he was saying.  First, I knew I didn’t agree with his concerns.  My only concern was that any of the children would use lesbian as a derogatory term.  Of course, in the world of ten-year-olds,  it was intended to be an insult to two girls who don’t yet shave their legs (which is apparently what the conversation was about). Secondly,  I was  thinking  there are a  lot worse names my daughter could have been called.

Regardless of my attention to his rant,  my daughter WAS listening because she later wanted to know if lesbian is a dirty word. (My daughter’s new obsession is dirty words,  and she’s hyper-vigilant as to anything that even has the appearance of being one.) And even though I reassured her that it wasn’t, she still seems very concerned.  Over  the last week, I feel like I’ve spent more time undoing the negative influence of the BFF’s father than I ever had to spend on conveying that love is ALWAYS a good thing.

“No,” I told her. “Lesbian is not a dirty word. Prejudice is a dirty word. Bigotry is a dirty word. Hate is a dirty word. But not lesbian. It’s a clean word.”

She seems a bit confused  that  none of the words I  recited were on her list of dirty words, but I know that, through my persistence, they’ll land on her list eventually.

After all, I know a dirty word when I hear one.

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About Trina Bartlett

I live in the Eastern Panhandle of WV, with one dog, two cats, a daughter in high school, a son starting his latest adventures at West Virginia University and a husband who works strange hours. When I'm not working as a director at a nonprofit social service organization or being a mom, I can generally be found riding my bike, walking my dog and stirring things up.

Posted on October 8, 2011, in Family, My life, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Cool post! It’s awesome to hear stories like these full of love and acceptance.

  2. Thank you for writing and sharing this. My husband and I are raising our daughter as you are raising yours, and she’s only three!

    About a week ago we talked about how babies are made and how they are born. Sperm, eggs, penis, vagina — the whole 9 yards. She loves it. I have a feeling, other parents may not love it…… as you said, she learns about love and family from US, not from the BUS.

  3. I guess there’s no escaping labels and acronyms, but people aren’t those. I remember doing TI and seeing all the labels discover that they were just the same as everyone else, desirous of love and acceptance. Some laughed. Some cried. We were all changed. I think that The Beatles got it right: “… and in the end, the Love you take is equal to the Love you make.” LOL (Love Out Loud) Hahaha!

  4. I’m from the eastern panhandle of WV as well, so I understand the frames of reference you might be up against.

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