Tuesday, September 02, 2014

My Son Likes Pink

My son Brennan started school today. He went in to his first day of Kindergarten excited, and hopeful for a year full of new friends to play with, and things to learn.

His day did not turn out as planned.

One of the things they did early in the day, sounded to me like a kind of get-to-know-you exercise. Hey Kindergarten Kids, what's your favorite color?  When they got to Brennan, he answered honestly, like every other kid did.

"Pink," he said.

To my sadness, and anger, this created a problem. The other children thought that was something to laugh at him for. Something to make fun of him for. Something to abuse him for. And by abuse I mean my son came home reporting being shoved to the ground on multiple occasions, punched in the stomach, and hit in the head. Brennan, I should add, is small. He's in the 6th percentile for his age. This only makes it easier for kids to rough him up. To his credit, what he lacks in size, he makes up for with a strong will and the knowledge that assaulting him is not okay.

This can not continue. Period.

I have an email out to his teacher. I'm hoping to hear back from her without much delay. I know the start of school is crazy, but I'm sure she will see that this is important.

Here's the deal. My kid's gender expression in terms of what he likes, is kind of a mixed bag. He loves things that are traditionally considered "boy" interests, but what he really loves are things that are traditionally considered "girl" interests, too. And that's okay. Anyone who thinks otherwise should realize that the issue at hand isn't in what a five year old enjoys, but with their own attitudes.

Brennan loves pink. He wants to eat off of his pink plate, and use his pink silverware. He loves dolls. He carries the doll he got for his birthday as if she's real, and his, and he takes care of her. He loves the Powerpuff Girls and My Little Pony. He even dressed in princess play clothes until he and his brother finally wore them out.

Is he gay? I don't know! He's five! Gender expression and sexuality aren't one and the same. And just so anyone who reads this is clear, I don't care. He can be gay, straight, or anything in between. It won't change anything for his dad and me.  The thing is, I'm pretty sure at five years old, there is a wide range of what kids really like, if societal pressure is removed and they're just allowed to just be themselves. And what's wrong with boys liking these things? For example, if girls play with dolls as practice for being mommies one day, why wouldn't it also be practice for little boys to be daddies?

My son isn't anything I could label. And I don't want to. He's just Brennan, and he should be allowed to be himself without fear of abuse. I have to ask myself, how do kids know that they should laugh at another child for liking a "girl" color when he's a boy? I guarantee they didn't come up with that on their own.

Parents, if you're teaching your children that there's something wrong with liking a certain color based on your gender, shame on you. You're the problem. You're also probably not reading this. The people who read my blog are largely a very accepting bunch.

But I will protect my son. He doesn't need to change. He doesn't need to stop liking what he likes, and he can be totally honest when asked what color he likes, and what toys he wants to play with. They have dolls in his classroom, which made him so happy. I want him to be happy about Kindergarten. And I want him to know that I will always stand up for his right to be whomever he wants to be.

Because that's my job.


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  1. I'm sorry he had such a rough day at school :( C likes pink, too, and runs around with his Anna doll, and luckily the other kids at school and his teachers are cool with it. But I worry about when he gets older, and goes to school. I don't know how much of it is other parents enforcing gender norms on their children and how much they pick up from society. I hope that his teacher takes it seriously and just didn't notice it in the rush and hectic nature of the first day of back to school.
    - D

    1. They are addressing my concerns, so that is encouraging.

      Thanks. :)

  2. Poor little, guy!My eldest loved pink at age five ("It reminds me of my mom."), and he still has Baby Merlin, which both sons have played with (because how else do yo learn to be a caregiver?). Our school has a pretty rigorous anti-bullying program, so teasing like this isn't allowed. Hopefully, the teacher helps smooth things over, and Brennan feels safe and happy again. I like to remind my children that there are really no differences between the genders other the ones humans make up (see my anthropology degree is useful for something). Good luck!

    1. Thank you! His school has a pretty rigorous anti-bullying program, so they are taking this seriously. Which I appreciate.

  3. This is awful. I wish more kids were like your little boy and there is nothing wrong with liking pink or playing with dolls. I hate that many toys get gender specified. Children should be able to play with what they want and not be made fun of. I hate nasty kids picking on others for being different, so many things wrong with society...and they must have learnt it somewhere? why else would they think it was funny he liked pink. I know my little girl wouldn't understand why people would laugh at him. I hope the kids are dealt with appropriately that did this and it does not happen again.

    1. There's a flowchart meme that talks about if a toy is for a boy or a girl. The main question is "Do you use your genitals to play with it?" If the answer is no, then any gender can play with it, if the answer is yes, it's not for children.

  4. Oh, poor Brennan. Makes me want to go to school with him and get in those other kindergardeners' faces. Grrr. I hope the school can help.

    1. I had the exact same though! But they are taking my concerns seriously, so as long as that continues, and they make the environment safe, he'll be fine, and I won't have to completely go mama bear on them.


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