Friday, April 13, 2007

VanGoghGirl Making A Stand Against Homophobia In Her Middle School

Note: This is a post about VanGoghGirl's first experience with a friend, a young pre-teen girl, coming out to her. Half of this post was written by my daughter and I'm really excited that she let me put it on my blog. I usually allow people to make comments that are critical of what I say but I just want to let everyone know ahead of time that I'm not going to tolerate any homophobic comments about this post. If you send one, don't even expect for it to show up on my blog. This is non-negotiable.

We still tuck VanGoghGirl in at night. I know some people would say that she's too old to need to be tucked in but my policy is that I will be tucking her in for as long as she lives with me. I know that she should be able to get to sleep without having me come and straighten out her covers but it really isn't about the blankets anymore. It's our time to talk.

During the day VanGoghGirl is at school and in the evening she has to get all of her homework finished, eat her dinner, and take her bath. It can be very hectic just trying to accomplish all of that each night. However, after she's had her snack and settled into bed, she can finally wind down and feel relaxed. That's why tucking her in is so important.

When I come in, I sit down on the bed and give her hugs and kisses and she gets to spend a few minutes talking. Sometimes she just wants to laugh and joke with me. Other times she'll tell me about what's going on with her at school. It's a great time to find out about whatever is on her mind.

A few nights ago, when I went to tuck her in, VanGoghGirl said she wanted to tell me about something but I had to pinky-promise her that I wouldn't be mad at her. The German comes from a very laid-back family and my own mother was, in her own way, very tolerant when it came to free speech in our home. Her father always encouraged them to say what was on their mind no matter what, even when they were mad. My mother tried to do the same but she did tend to lose her temper a lot. Our policy with VanGoghGirl is that it's more important for her to feel like she can tell us anything than it is for us to punish her for something she's done, so when she asked me to pinky-promise her I knew it had to be something big. That's pretty scary because, as a parent, my mind started racing wondering what sort of trouble she might have got herself into.

I was going to write about what VanGoghGirl told me but when I tried to do so, I couldn't quite express things the way she told it to me. Instead, I asked her to come and write about her experience herself so that it could be true to her feelings and recollection. I decided to leave it completely unaltered because I think it is more important for her to be able to write what she's feeling instead of worrying about her grammar and spelling being critiqued. She wrote it in the third-person perspective to match with the parts of my post above hers.

She told me the third day of Leap testing, while her and her friend Britt were laughing and joking One boy walked up to them and said "You guys act like you or gay or sumpten!" obviously VanGoghGirl didn't appreciate them using " Gay " as an insult, thats when she replied " I don't see what's so wrong with gay people they are just like every body else, and any body who thinks differently is just prejudice."thats when she looked over to the Teacher who was shaking her head with a squinched up face,almost like when you lick lemons.Thats when the Teacher said "No, their not prjudice. Gay people are just an abomination to god."

VanGoghGirl felt very bad after, since a few weeks before, her Emo friend and her were talking when some how they came to the topic of gay people. Thats when her Emo friend told her and the other girl who was talking with them that she wanted to tell them something but was not sure if she should tell them thats when VanGoghGirl told her it was o.k and so her Emo Friend told them that she was gay. VanGoghGirl and the other girl told Emo Friend it was alright and they would not like her any less becuase of it.Emo Friend said that she had not told her Aunt and Grandmother,whom she live with yet, since they were very old fashioned and would not accept that in their home. Before she had tried to tell her friends at church but they said "god hates homo so your gonna go to hell!" This made Emo friend feel like she could not tell any one.

A few weeks later in VanGoghGirls P.E. class a couple of boys were making fun of one of the other boys calling him gay or fruity. thats when the boy who was being teased, Kam, turned around and punch the other boy.VanGoghGirl turned around and told the other boys to stop messing with him and to stop usimg gay as an insult, because of coarse the other boy was not gay he just acted in way that the other kids were not used to.

I think the next time some kid calls another student gay they should know that there is nothing wrong with being gay there still human beings and they still have to deel with the same problems we do and even more.


Rainbow Girl said...

This is fantastic! Way to go, VanGoghGirl!!!!!!! Thanks for sharing your experience and being such an excellent friend and role model to your peers!!!!!!

ben said...

"almost like when you lick lemons"

That's priceless. So too, is raising a kick ass daughter who's not afraid to say what's right. Her courage will serve her well.

Anonymous said...

Your daughter is wonderful! The world needs more kids like her!

Blackamazon said...

I l ove you I love your child life is good

The Goldfish said...

Wish I'd been at school with VanGoghGirl, I think my adolescence may have been much easier. You clearly do a great job, Bint. :-)

bint alshamsa said...

I really appreciate all of the wonderful comments that people have left about this post. I can't even begin to explain the impact that they have had. I've shown each and every one of them to VanGoghGirl and I think that they've helped her to know for sure that homophobia is wrong and has real consequences for the lives of those around her.

For the much of her life (and the majority of mine) we were members of a religion where homophobia was not only the norm, it was considered one's religious duty. Thankfully, I was able to leave this group behind a several years ago but growing around that environment has taken its toll on my daughter. Since my family is still a part of the religion, she hears a fairly steady stream of homophobic remarks when we are around them and she has been criticized and punished by my parents in the past because she questioned them about what they were saying. As a result, I think VanGoghGirl was not really sure that she had done the right thing by speaking up about this at school.

The comments that have been left here for her have helped us tremendously because she has gotten the chance to see that even though she may feel like we are the only ones around here who do not believe there is any justification for homophobia, there are many other people on this planet who think the same way.

For that, I thank you.


Plain(s)feminist said...

What a wonderful daughter you have, and what a wonderful mom you are for encouraging her to speak up when someone is being hurt. VanGoghGirl may not know it now, but I will bet you that there was at least one other student there who heard her words and felt just a little less alone. Way to go, both of you!