BibleWe already know that gender non-conforming kids are more likely to be abused for not following strict pre-conceived stereotypes about what boys and girls are "supposed" to do. From playing with the "wrong" toys to the characters they choose in role play, even the most seemingly innocuous preferences can mark them out as targets if they "deviate" from the norm.
Read More: Anti-Gay Literature Sparks Row Over State-Funded Faith Schools
But how does this targeting come about? A pastor's recent tirade from the pulpit gives us some clues.
As North Carolina prepares to vote on a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as being between a man and a woman (opponents of the amendment say it will also strip domestic partnership privileges and threaten all unmarried couples), one NC pastor has created a fire storm of outrage by suggesting that parents should "crack" their boys' limp wrists, give them a "good punch" if they act too girly, and keep their women folk in check if they start acting "too butch".
It should be noted that Pastor Sean Harris later apologized, saying he "misspoke" and claimed that he does not advocate child abuse as a response to "effeminacy and sexual immorality". But besides the obvious dangers of advocating any kind of violence against children, even in jest, this audio reveals a whole host of misconceptions about children, gender roles and sexuality that should not be left unchallenged.
Gender non-conforming behavior is widespread, normal and has little to do with sexual preference later in life. (See Sarah's excellent piece on whether nail polish will turn your son gay for more on that one.) Parents can only have limited influence as to what their kids like and why. (Again, Sarah covers some excellent ground here on whether you can influence your daughter into wearing pink.) And finally, from transgender individuals through homosexuality and heterosexuality to asexuality, the world has evolved (or was created) to feature a broad and wonderful array of diversity regarding gender, sexuality and just about everything else. I find it hard to believe that this diversity was driven by what toys our ancestors let their children play with. (Nor by whom we do and don't allow the "privilege" of legal and cultural recognition of their relationships.)
Whether or not this latest outrage will further shift minds regarding the constitutional amendment remains to be seen, but polls are showing a remarkable drop in support for the measure as polling day approaches.
Top Stories on Gender Non-Conformity and Sexuality
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Gender Non-Conforming Kids More Likely to Be Attacked (By Their Parents)
Anti-Gay Literature Sparks Row Over State-Funded Faith Schools