Four weeks ago we got a puppy, and one of the biggest pieces of advice I have received ever since is how important it is for me to socialise my dog. Everyone who knows anything about dogs has said that it is vital to introduce him to as many different people as possible. Men with beards, women with glasses, hats and thick coats... boys in dresses.
Yep, you heard.
And yet if the interview I just watched on the TV is anything to go by, some people don't think even socialising their children is important. In fact, they think that introducing their child to a boy who wears a dress to school is dangerous.
Are you kidding me?
This couple believe that sending a boy to school in a dress damages the other children in the school through a mix of confusion and horror. They think that a boy in a dress is so damning to their children's upbringing that they have decided to home school their children and are taking the school to a tribunal to force the transgender boy to wear trousers. They think he is unwell and needs medical attention. That what he is doing isn't fair because he is challenging views on gender and forcing other children to come into contact with something unnatural.
And I think they can fuck right off.
We live in a world full to bursting with diversity and to deny any child experience of that is dangerous in my opinion. How about teaching children to accept everyone? And that there are no rules about clothing and gender? That the world could be full of empathetic and supportive human beings if only we taught children right from the beginning to empathise with others. Not teach them instead to be close-minded and run away from anything they don't fully understand.
To criticise the child or the parent for allowing him to wear a dress to school smacks of fear. You are not giving that child any credit. You are not allowing them to be themselves. To trust their instincts. To accept who they are. To accept others. Why not use it as an opportunity to teach your children to accept everyone?
We are talking about children. Children who are all special and unique. Why not embrace that? What are you teaching your children by removing them from this school? From isolating them away and making their decisions for them and controlling their experiences? You are doing them no favours. You are merely excelling in inciting close-minded thinking.
Stop saying how it's going to affect all of the other children in the school. It's not going to affect them in a negative way if a boy comes to school in a dress. What are you scared of? That your son may come home and put a dress on? Would that really be so bad?
When I was a primary school teacher I often saw bullying and its effect. Bullying that stemmed from lack of understanding of something, or someone different. Singling out a child who is clearly already facing confusion and opposition for his choices is beyond unkind. And as parents if we don't teach our children to be more open minded, understanding, empathetic and more accepting then we are failing future generations.
I applaud the parents of the boy in the dress and his school. They are truly child focussed and letting the child lead them. They are not enforcing gender constraints or out-dated rules on anyone and that should be celebrated. Childhood is magical. There should be no judgement. No rules. If a girl likes pink and princesses, then that's ok, just like it would be if super heroes were her favourite toys. If a boy chooses to play with cars then there's nothing wrong with that either nor is there if he pushes a pram around his house.
And if one incredibly brave child wants to wear a dress to school then bring it on!
The world is changing and evolving and it is time we all went with it instead of judging and criticising.
Right, I'm off to find a beautiful mix of different humans to help socialize my puppy.