This morning while cooking breakfast for my family, I responded on Twitter to a writer I’ve enjoyed following for a few years. He immediately insulted and blocked me. Perhaps he woke up on the proverbial wrong side of the bed, but his statement to which I responded was at once horrifying and illuminating, and it deserves a full rebuttal.
Podhoretz was referring to the March 23 issue of New York Times Magazine, with this cover:
The cover relates to a very important story about the study, advocacy, and awareness of bisexuality, both within the LGBT community and more broadly. Although there are more self-identified bisexuals than gays and lesbians combined, they are often greeted with more confusion, stigma, and derision, and suffer from more depression, suicide, and violence than their more singularly oriented brothers and sisters. I should know, since I am one, though I am fortunate to have had a rather simple, incident-free life so far.
But the reaction from Podhoretz and so many others I’ve heard over the years, especially from social conservatives on these issues, is less about sexual orientation and more about parenting. Why the aversion to explaining things to your children? That is sort of your job. One of the main complaints about public schools and their curricula, though I don’t know that Podhoretz himself has made it, is that someone else is teaching your children about things and in ways you would not. Well here’s a perfect opportunity for you to teach your child in your own way about something they are going to encounter in the real world. Instead, you literally hide the issue in fear and treat a single word as obscene “pornography”. An ironic reaction coming from someone who makes his living by the written word.
A friend of mine (without children) proposed that 7 years was too young to have a discussion about bisexuality. Cowardly, naive bull shit. Second graders are already starting to develop crushes and romantic infatuations. For all you know, your child may already be bisexual and just not know what it is or that it’s a thing at all, but you’re too overprotective to help him understand it. Seriously, how difficult is it to have the conversation I suggested in my tweet?
“Daddy, what does ‘bisexual’ mean?”
“Well, son. Some boys like girls, and they’re called ‘straight’. Some boys like other boys, and they’re called ‘gay’. And some boys like boys and girls, and they’re called ‘bisexual’.”
“Ok. Thanks, daddy.”
You are not exposing your child to any sensitive, graphic information here, though they may get that on the playground if they haven’t already. You should relish the opportunity to explain these kind of things to your children in your own way, on your own time, buttressed by your own beliefs. Finding creative ways to answer my 4 year old’s many, many, many questions is one of my favorite parts of parenting. I truly cannot comprehend parents who are afraid to do so.
Even if you think bisexuality is wrong and/or a sin, why couldn’t you just say so? I would think you would be more inclined to explain to your children you believe something is wrong, rather than sweep it under the rug and hope they don’t learn about it from someone else who might have a different moral perspective. For that reason, though, I suppose I shouldn’t complain. The more that parents refuse to teach their children about LGBT issues, the more they will learn about them from someone else – someone who is likely more informed and understanding. So really, the Podhoretzes of the world are doing us a favor by letting us teach their kids to be tolerant, respectful members of society.