I recently read a Facebook post about a boy who said he "prefers boys." His older brother decided he was gay and posted his picture all over the internet because he was getting "bullied" for being "gay." He is 8 years old.
Just because your cause is noble, you don't have the right to abandon all reason and exploit your kid.

For those of you into the whole brevity thing (Lebowski, anyone?), I can summarize my whole article in one sentence: Just because your cause is noble, you don't have the right to abandon all reason and exploit your kid.

Over the past year or so, I've seen an increasing number of posts on huge Facebook pages announcing things like, "My kindergartener is gay. Let's support him." Recently, I saw one about a first-grader. It said something like, "My little brother said he 'prefers boys,' and now he's getting bullied at school. Let's all show him support."

This was on a huge page on Facebook. The photo had hundreds of thousands of "likes" and "shares."

All I could think was this: "Whoa dude. Your first-grade brother announces he 'prefers boys' and you claim he's getting bullied, so your thoughtful decision is to paste his photo all over the freaking internet? Wait. WHAT?"

First of all, of course he "prefers boys." He's in first grade. What first-grade boy doesn't "prefer boys?"

Secondly, if he's getting bullied, why are you putting his picture on the internet? Just to fuel more crap coming his way? Not that anybody should hide who they are, but if these people really live in a place where first graders have the capacity to "bully" based on alleged sexuality (which sounds utterly ridiculous to me, for the record), well I'd be pretty careful putting a defenseless kid's photo on the internet with "GAY" slapped across his forehead (metaphorically speaking). I mean talk about the potential for more bullying and trauma.

How do you know?

But most of all, and this is really what I want to say: A first-grade kid isn't sexualized yet, so how the hell do you know if he's gay or not?

(By the way, the reason I am only speaking of male children is because I've really only seen these posts in reference to boy children, which is a discussion of its own. Why are girls allowed to dress like boys or "like girls" without people losing their minds?)

Young confident boy with flower purse by sports car

I mean, I have a first grader in my life. There isn't a sexualized bone in his body. He'll be eight in September. Sometimes he wears mesh caps and skateboards. Sometimes he wears a flowered purse. Sometimes he wears a mesh cap and skateboards with his flowered purse.

I've had to talk to him repeatedly about not kissing his male friends without their permission.

Yesterday he told me he had a crush on a girl named Jamie in his classroom.

He keeps begging me to sign him up for ballet lessons (we don't have the money).

His favorite pastime is to tackle people and sword fight.

While listening to Macklemore's "One Love," he asked his sister, "When do people know when they're gay?"

She responded: "Well, I don't know. Macklemore said something about third grade."

He asked her: "Are you gay?"

She says: "No, I think I like boys. Are you?" (She's 11.)

He responds: "I don't know. I'm in first grade."

Exactly, kid. Exactly.

The spectrum of sexuality

And there's more to this than just deciding for a kid what and who they are, which is wrong, in my opinion. I'm not saying a kid at seven or eight wouldn't know he or she is "different" or even that they like boys or girls. What I'm saying is that we as parents do not have the right to "read" our kids for them before they are sexualized, make a choice about "what" they are possibly before they even know themselves, and then use them as emblems of our own liberal agendas.

We as parents do not have the right to "read" our kids for them before they are sexualized, make a choice about "what" they are possibly before they even know themselves, and then use them as emblems of our own liberal agendas.

Oh look at me, I'm the parent of a gay kid. Aren't I a good liberal? (For the record, I'm so left I sometimes fear I'm going to end up back at the right, but that doesn't mean I can't spot idiots, even if they are on the same side as me politically.)

It's vapid attention-seeking as far as I can tell.

Just let your kid be, damn it. Your kid is just your kid. You are the one calling him "gay" or "straight." Why? Well, I don't know why. Clearly you're benefiting from it somehow.

Didn't you learn in Human Sexuality 101 that sexuality is a "spectrum?" In other words, we're all a little gay and we're all a little straight. It's not some black and white thing (despite what certain religions would have us believe).

You know when I was a little girl, my first sexual exploration was with other girls. I don't know why. It just was.

But by the time I hit puberty, I was totally into the dudes. Terrified of them, but attracted nonetheless.

However, throughout my life, there have been females who have caught my attention and made my heart patter a bit, in a way that skirted sexual attraction, but not to the point that I would have sex with them. So that's where I land on the spectrum: Straight, with a few fleeting gay-flirtation moments.

So here it is:

If we start deciding for our boys and girls that they are "gay" or "straight" based on the ways they act before they are even sexualized (or anytime really), when they are still in the period of exploration, all we're doing is reinforcing the heteronormative stereotypes we claim to despise.

The kid will know someday for sure if he's gay or straight, so why not let it go until then?

If a boy says he "prefers boys" in second grade, why can't the parents just say "cool" and watch, and wait, and support whatever the hell comes along. Maybe he'll continue preferring boys. Maybe he won't. Maybe he'll prefer both.

But if we see our kid dressing in gendered clothing for the opposite sex, or engaging in gendered activities for the opposite sex, or even if we see our child showing interest in the same sex, and we decide right then and there "Look! Evidence! My kid is gay," are we not using society's hard-and-fast stereotypes to make those decisions?

In other words, since your kid isn't acting the way society says a "straight kid" should act, he must be gay.

Since your boy isn't acting "manly," clearly he's gay. (What?)

Since your boy isn't fitting society's arbitrary mold of "heterosexual," he must be homosexual.

This is exactly the same story that's always been told. If we want to reframe the discussion, if we want to recast the way we see sex and gender, we have to start with not losing our minds when a kid "bends" a little, or stretches across the spectrum. I mean at this point, our society is so sick, we don't even know how boys and girls naturally act outside strict heteronormative expectations.

We've got to figure out how to let our kids be a little male and a little female and a little gay and a little straight.

We've got to let them be.

And then fight like hell on behalf of them however they "turn out."

This is what's right, and this is what they deserve.

More on gender and sexuality

Gender-bending: When your son dresses like a princess
Teach your children to be flexible about gender
Coy Mathis, redefining acceptance by the second grade

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