Stephanie Farnsworth challenges the idea that children cannot understand LGBTQ+ issues.
Contrary to what concerned parents and conservative head teachers might think, children cannot ‘catch’ LGBTQ+. If we did have an agenda then clearly it’s pretty ineffective as our ranks would have swelled and we certainly would not be suffering through another five years of the Tories, nor would we have legislation such as the trans spousal veto.
Claiming concern for children is a disingenuous tactic designed only to stall debate and gatekeep identities. It reveals only that being LGBTQ+ is something to be feared and how it is still seen as not matching the ideal of what parents might have in mind for their precious little bundle of joy. Adults may trot out the line that they just want their children to be happy and that being LGBTQ+ is so hard, but the only reason why it is more difficult to be LGBTQ+ is because of cisgender heterosexual heteroromantic people perpetuating their narrow ideologies and hate. If the world was an accepting place then there would be no hardships. Let’s really think of the children and tackle this bigotry.
Adults may trot out the line that they just want their children to be happy and that being LGBTQ+ is so hard, but the only reason why it is more difficult to be LGBTQ+ is because of cisgender heterosexual heteroromantic people perpetuating their narrow ideologies and hate.
The most alarming aspect of the argument is the level of control that it involves. Attempts to control identities (and people) go to the very heart of prejudice against LGBTQ+ people, but there’s something even more insidious when it comes to a child as parents aren’t even hesitating to suggest that they should have total control of the identities of their children. This is even enforced by law, demonstrated by that schools do not have to include LGBTQ+ content at any stage in the curriculum or even within (optional) sex and relationship discussions. It’s also brutally shown by the fact that still intersex babies are routinely operated on so that they may fit the ideals of parents. Surgery that is not life saving or will not improve the physical quality of life (i.e. to limit physical pain) should not be done without the consent of the individual and clearly, a baby cannot consent. The harrowing aspect of all this is that despite the UN calling it torture, little to no attention is being given to this in the UK.
The harrowing aspect of all this is that despite the UN calling it torture, little to no attention is being given to this in the UK.
Furthermore, trans children are being routinely erased and denied support that could save their lives. Yes, perhaps your child may say “I’m a girl today” but identify as something different tomorrow but that does not make their experiences less valid. It only goes to show that gender is complicated and can be fluid. It takes a staggering amount of arrogance (and bigotry) to claim to know what anyone else is feeling better than they do. Even from a purely medical standpoint supporting a young person is better for them than claiming parents know best. Suicide rates go way down if a young person has support and if they at any point which to stop a medical transition then that’s fine. Puberty can be allowed to continue. It’s slightly different with surgery of course, but I’ve not known a single trans person who hasn’t thought long and hard about that process. The idea that people just dive into surgery on a whim is yet another pernicious myth pushed by transphobes. It isn’t even possible given the NHS waiting lists or the sheer costs of private healthcare.
It takes a staggering amount of arrogance (and bigotry) to claim to know what anyone else is feeling better than they do.
It can be difficult to process a child coming out (which is why education on LGBTQ+ identities is also desperately needed for adults as well as children and young people) but for those being erased and denied the support they need it can be a life threatening situation. It may take parents time but that should not get in the way of what is best for the child or young person at the centre of this. They need the right support, not somebody who is putting their own prejudices onto a vulnerable person. Parenthood is supposed to be about being ready to be fully there for someone and to truly love them but that cannot come with conditions attached. If people aren’t willing to give up their prejudices and are more interested in moulding someone into their ideal then they should seriously consider sticking to playing The Sims.
They need the right support, not somebody who is putting their own prejudices onto a vulnerable person.
Let us also not forget the role of schools and the lack of responsibility they regularly show. They have a duty to all students to provide a safe environment. It’s common knowledge that bullying is slow to be acted upon, but there’s also evidence showing teachers are doing little to support students who are LGBTQ+. Around one quarter of all homeless youths identify as LGBTQ+ (and that statistic clearly doesn’t account for many other people who identify differently) and so schools, colleges and universities can be vital places to help recognise someone in trouble and offer support, but too often schools and colleges in particular, have an outright ban on either discussing LGBTQ+ issues or allowing LGBTQ+ organisations into schools to talk with the young people. Section 28 therefore never died and the result is that vulnerable LGBTQ+ used have been left in isolation.
From birth, children are forced to conform to what their parents believe in terms of gender; whether that is regarding what clothes to be, what pronouns are used or even whether surgery is forced upon a child. Furthermore, children grow up learning predominantly about heterosexual, heteroromantic and cisgender identities. Anything else is still treated as being outside of the norm. It’s those narrow and binary identities which are being forced upon children. Progress on tackling these messages are slow; we still don’t have compulsory Sex and Relationships Education (SRE), and even brief hints at same gender romances on kids TV shows are met with as much condemnation as celebration.
From birth, children are forced to conform to what their parents believe in terms of gender; whether that is regarding what clothes to be, what pronouns are used or even whether surgery is forced upon a child.
Children are being used as prop to deflect attention from the way that many adults still just don’t like LGBTQ+ people. It’s as simple as that. Adults don’t want to have to talk about such issues, they don’t want to even hear about them and if their children start learning about them they just may have to, and they may well have to accept that they are prejudiced. Having children growing up with a more accepting and liberated attitude is a threat to their sensibilities. They don’t give a damn about the children.
Follow Stephanie on Twitter (@StephFarnsworth)