Tonight I settled down after a long evening of bedtime battles with my toddler to relax watching some YouTube and stuffing my face with leftover Christmas chocolates...much as I do most evenings (Don't judge!)
I spent a little time clicking through the YouTubers I usually watch regularly....and I found myself watching a Miranda Sings video showing her reaction to a recent video on The Fine Brothers Kids React channel....this led me on to the Kids React video series, where I stumbled across a title that intrigued me...
Kids React To Gay Marriage.
So I clicked on to it...not really knowing what to expect.
What followed was a 16 minute long roller coaster of emotions.
I don't think any other YouTube video has ever made me FEEL as much as this one did.
Mostly, I felt uplifted and almost excited to hear the eloquent and insightful comments put forward by the group of 5-13 year old kids from California giving their reactions to viral videos of marriage proposals by same sex couples and then answering a series of questions around the subject of gay marriage and the treatment of gay people in society.
Most of the kids in the video were supportive & understanding - they seemed to completely grasp the concept of love being love and the need for all human beings to be completely equal. They seemed to struggle, much as I do myself, to understand why so many members of our society have such problems grasping the importance of the need for equality.
They seemed to become exasperated at hearing how gay people are treated throughout the world.
Their reactions gave me hope for the future - if all of the children society are raising right now grow up to have these opinions then there's hope for us all, right?
But there was one child in the video - Lucas, aged 5 - an adorable little guy who at first seems to understand what he's seeing. He asks "Are they gay?"....and when the producer off screen answers yes, he simply says "Ohhh".
But further in to the video, he shares his views more.
When asked how the video made him feel, he replies "I'm sad...Gay is bad for you".
When asked "Why do you think that?" his response is "I don't know".
Well...there I went in tears for the rest of video.
I can think of few things sadder than this.
A 5 year old child - a blank canvas - surely too young to have reached this conclusion all by himself?
What a strong opinion to have, without the slightest inclination as to why he has it.
This makes it very clear to me that this is the opinion of someone responsible for bringing him up - his inability to reason or justify his thoughts show this.
I wonder if this is the opinion he'll always hold. Is it too late for him now to form his own, unbiased opinion on a subject like this? Or has his mind been forever tarnished with the opinion of those around him?
Watching this video really brought home to me just how much responsibility is on your shoulders when you become a parent.
I guess I hadn't really thought about it before....I'd focused on the responsibility of keeping my son safe, of educating him, of trying to instill a good work ethic....but I hadn't given a great deal of thought to the responsibility of raising a human being who will go out into the world with the opinions he forms and live his life accordingly.
What a huge responsibility that is.
More than anything I want to raise accepting, well-rounded children who understand and respect every human beings right to be treated fairly.
If I heard Tyne saying the things that this child said, I would feel I had failed completely as a parent.
He will certainly never hear those things from me, but how do I stop him from hearing them from other people? It's my job as his mother to not only ensure he doesn't hear any of the negative, but to ensure he hears the positive - simply ignoring the existence of these issues isn't going to be enough to combat the things he might hear out there in the world.
He needs to know the facts - he needs to be told from the start that sometimes men love men, sometimes women love women. That some children have two mummies, and some children have two daddies, some children don't have one or the other and some children don't have any.
I don't want these things to come as a surprise to him, and I don't want the chance to arise for anybody elses opinions to cloud his judgement.
I wish there were more opportunities to make this part of a childs every day life.
Sure I guess we're going in the right direction with the suggestion that the movie Frozen features the very first gay couple to be seen in a Disney movie - but what a very subtle reference it is, and not even one that's been confirmed (As far as I am aware).
I need more opportunities to present these things to him as part of normal life.
I need more same sex couples on kids tv shows and adverts - I need more opportunities to show my children that its just as normal to see a relationship between a same sex couple as it is to see the opposite sex...otherwise how will he understand this?
I can tell him all day long that its perfectly normal but without seeing it for himself, how will he understand that?
I remember back in the 90's, when Eastenders had a big story line about a gay couple - it was the first on screen kiss between two men before the watershed on British TV and I remember a family member sounding off about how upset he was with the whole thing because his then 4 year old child had seen it and asked questions.
He didn't want to have to answer those questions and he was furious that a TV show had made his child aware of the existence of those people - that child is a well rounded adult now and as far as I am aware, hasn't been damaged in anyway by seeing what they did!
Even as recently as a couple of years back, a well known brand had to withdraw an advert for a home cleaning product because there had so many complaints to OFCOM - what did the advert show?
It showed a normal family - parents and kids - having breakfast together. One of the parents kissed the other on the cheek on their way out to work.
Nice and simple, wholesome family stuff .
The problem? They were both men.
And so this is what I'm up against.
On the rare occasions that these images are presented to our children as normal, complaints are made and they're soon gone again.
I'm not sure what I can do about any of this - I guess all I can do is try my hardest to ensure that my children know exactly how the world works - that relationships can occur between any mix of genders, and that is all normal. I guess they also need to know that there are some people out there with closed minds and hearts who don't think that's ok...I guess I should welcome any questions, and I should be completely honest. That's all I can do.
I hope beyond hope that my children grow up to emulate the 99% of children in the above video - I'll be truly devastated if they don't.
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