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July 25, 2015 by Connie Leave a Comment My daughter is in the same program as William when he turned two. With Hanna she gives up the toy, waits for her turn, says my turn and then plays with the toy appropriately. We have now entered the direct teach methods in the program where we expect Hanna to do more expectations. The trend toward wider acceptance of alternative sexualities and gender expressions, as evidenced by legalization of gay marriage, the repealing of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the overturning of The Defense of Marriage Act, has had, perhaps, the unanticipated effect of lowering the age at which many GLBT youth come out. As gay teens become more emboldened to claim their identities without shame, and transgender children as young as five are being allowed to live in their chosen gender in school as well as at home, a new dilemma has surfaced for parents; how do we explain variations not only in sexuality but in gender, to our young children in terms they will understand?
Consider how these discussions might play out around the dinner table, when you as a parent are faced with the difficult task of differentiating sex, sexual orientation and gender for a young child. Once I finish filling her head about the perils of beer pong and walking alone at night, I realize she’s not the only one that needs advice before she goes. This brings to mind when we sent Mini-Me on her first (and only) sleep-away camp, her big brother said, “There goes one brave little soldier.” Brave little soldier, indeed.
Aw, this made me a little teary as I sit with my 22 month old daughter on my lap and she watches Sesame Street.
Perhaps it’s both parents and child that are brave in this situation since both have to let go and fly, albeit in very different ways. Hi, I’ve just found your website today and it has been very uplifting and encouraging to me. We go to Project Impact once a week and get feedback from the parent coach on how to help Hanna get engaged and to learn new words and play skills. With Hanna, she catches on so easily and doesn’t get so attached with a toy that she can’t give it up.

While examples of gay couples in your own family or community, on TV or in the news should not be hard to find and to hold up as representative of diversity in sexual orientation, you may not know any gender-non-conforming child or adult to refer to. Many combinations of these traits are common and acceptable; some people who look like boys on the outside feel like girls on the inside, and some who look like girls on the outside feel like boys on the inside, and certainly, the kind of toys a person might like to play with doesn’t mean anything about who that person is. Even though she’s heard the speech, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I didn’t say it, yet again. I can’t imagine sending her off to college (gasp when I think of all the trouble I got into in college!!) because she’s my baby!! My oldest son is a senior and next year he will be leaving for college and I swear to you every time I even see the word college I start crying.
Earlier on, we found out that William loved Thomas the train and we used that to do turn-taking but he couldn’t give it up so easily. Here are some simple suggestions for how to address this topic in a straightforward, non-judgmental manner that opens up a discussion between you and your children. Rather than trying to find examples of gender-different individuals, speak in more general terms. For the next few months, I will be writing about issues involving gay and gender non-conforming children. I cringe as the words come out of my mouth, knowing what’s coming, “Mom, you don’t have to tell me this.
She did well in the indirect teaching method where I followed the child’s lead to get her engaged with me. Was your son teased for playing with “girl toys” or your daughter chided for wanting to play football?
Explain to your child that for many years it was believed that a person born with a boy body always had a boy brain and liked boy things and vice-versa; a person born with a girl body always had a girl brain and liked girl things.

Young children are generally very accepting of differences in others, and may not require anything more than a simple “some people are just happier that way,” while older children might want to know how and why. How do you navigate the waters as a parent of such a child, as a friend to a parent of one, or simply as an advocate for fairness and acceptance for all children?
Not all kids are a fan of this because parents can see the mess they’re living in now that mom’s not there to clean up.
For weeks my husband randomly calls me during the day just to say “Our baby is going away to college.” Sigh. It’s our voice in their heads that leads them to take their drink to the bathroom with them instead of leaving it on the table or to forgo the evening run because there is no friend available to join.
What I learned so far is that Hanna is far advanced in terms of where William was and develops more quickly. Or are the questions in response to someone your child has seen outside of school or in the media? Perhaps then, a discussion about the biological basis for sex and gender might be in order. Keep in mind that asking questions about sexuality and gender in others can be a child’s way of sorting through some personal feelings about him – or herself, so the tone of your answers can have long-lasting ramifications.
I’m a little better today, but find myself being teary-eyed every so often throughout the day.

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