Just like straight children need to understand how to safely navigate their coming of age and sexuality, so do LGBTQ children.
In high school, I had a crush on this ‘bad boy’ that took a liking to me. We weren’t friends, but he’d come to check on me to make sure I was okay and I thought that was nice of him, but that wasn’t exactly it. It was something else.
I had no words for my feelings so I ignored them, and then forgot about them.
If he’d been a my girlfriend, I would’ve known immediately: I had a crush. Boys liked girls, as far as I knew. The definition of a crush was that it was on a girl. That’s what my parents told me, what books told me, and what I observed my peers doing at school.
I also knew it from G-rated children’s movies that portray love between men and women as magical, natural, and transformative.
High school me felt a little something for girls and I guess I was trying very, very hard to like them because I wanted to fit in. Everyone else in my grade has hormones surging through their bodies making them interested in the opposite sex, whereas I had stronger urges for the same sex.
I suppose I knew that same-sex attraction existed, but it presented as some kind of cancer that was taking out men of the same-sex persuasion.
I didn’t know that sexual orientation is a spectrum, so even if I was attracted to women a little, I might still like men more. I was 21 years old before I figured out that my feelings for the boy was a crush.
I’m not alone here. If you’re straight, giving children age appropriate information about same-sex relationships, or the gender spectrum, may sound unnecessary. But when we educate teens, we must remember that some of them will grow up to be gay, bisexual, or transgender.
Just like straight children need to understand how their bodies are changing, or what their feelings mean, and how to safely navigate coming of age and sexuality, so do LGBTQ children.
And we deserve to see their own possibilities as magical, natural, and transformative, too.