Monday, January 31, 2011

Gay-Friendly High Schools

The biggest concern, by far, of the many gay-married-with-kids guys that I've heard from is this:  How will my children be affected when everyone finds out I'm gay?  Will they be bullied or teased at school?  Not allowed to hang out at their friends' houses?  It is a question which seems to haunt most gay-married-dads and one which they feel is largely out of their control.

Among the gay-married-fathers, I seem to be the odd man out.  I have no such concerns about my children whatsover. (hopefully not being naive here...)

I am absolutely confident that my kids will be fine when my "outing" reaches our wider community.  To start with, each kid is exceptionally self-confident and secure.  Both are very much leaders.  From an early age, each of them has shown remarkable courage in walking away peer pressure when the group was doing things which were unkind or just plain bad.   I frequently wonder where this came from because neither of their parents had that degree of self-assurance, even as young adults!

The other important reason that I'm not concerned about them is the exceptionally "gay-friendly" school which my children attend.

Much as been said about the advantages of coming out at an early age, rather than at 45 as I did.  Readers of this blog from less gay-friendly countries than Canada, such as Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, and Malaysia let alone parts of  the United States and Australia, might have difficulty even imagining the gay-friendly atmosphere at my kids' public high school.  (Canadian catholic high schools are very much less gay friendly)

While we are not some gay "shangri-la", I am very proud of the advances made in my town and country in recent years.   You would expect the big Canadian cities to be gay-friendly, but the smallish city in which we live is also amazing in this regard.

The school has an extremely active GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) which has announcements most days over the PA system, frequent high-profile "gay awareness" events in the school and community, and posters everywhere.

In the past year, the school has flown the rainbow flag on the main flagpole outside the front of the school at least three times to mark days such as Word Aids Day, Anti-gay Bullying Day etc.   On these occasions, the rainbow flag was there for an entire week, not just that day.  The Canadian flag was actually removed from the flagpole for that time;  could this ever happen in some small "bible-belt" town in the southern US?   On Pink Shirt Day, (an anti-bullying campaign which originated in Canada), there was widespread participation from staff and students alike, either wearing pink clothing or agreeing to put on a pink ribbon.

I see little grade10 kids going around the school, quietly "out" wearing a rainbow belt or rainbow shoelaces and marvel at their courage and confidence.  They probably have no idea how much their lives were improved by the GLBT pioneers of previous generations.

Of course, there always will be morons who will bully and harass LGBT students.... as long as they tell an adult in the building, the school administration (with full school division support) will come down on the offender like a ton of bricks.  They have a "zero tolerance" policy for bullying of all kinds, especially LGBT bullying.

There are a small number of "out" gay teachers, some married to same-sex spouses, who invariably are the coolest and most popular teachers in the school.  (Don't know why that is.)   It helps that Canada as a whole has had full same-sex marriage rights for over 10 years and protections for LGBT people in every aspect of life, such as employment and every other area.... it is the only world these kids have known.

Of course, there are fundamentalist religious groups who oppose all this, who may have passed their intolerant views down to their children.  However, they are much fewer in number in the United States and much less vocal.   Canadians, as a whole, really support LGBT rights and loud vocal protests from religious nut-jobs would receive very little (ie:  close to none) public support.


  1. It's a fine thing to have a school like your children's where bullying, an especially anti-GLBT bullying is not tolerated.

  2. "...little grade10 kids ... wearing a rainbow ... have no idea how much their lives were improved by the GLBT pioneers of previous generations." You said it! And do you know what? I'm very very happy for them. I hope they never have to experience the gay closet like we did when we grew up.

  3. my (limited) experience with gay fathers is the kids are just fine with this. My friends with children - not one has estranged children. Often, kids find it almost preferable, a 'bent status symbol' - true !

  4. Thanks, Ur-Spo... that's good to hear! That's my (also limited) experience as well.

  5. My kids love me very much. But it's been an adjustment. They accept LGBT folk just fine; but when it's your dad!?!?

    Just keep conversations open.

  6. Thanks, Joe! Yes, that is an excellent point and great advice from someone who has been there.


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