This week’s Tablet magazine column is about little boys who like to wear dresses. An interview with a mom whose 6-year-old son favors jeans as well as false eyelashes and flamenco outfits got cut for space, but I really loved her advice:
“Parents are going to be judged no matter what,” she told me. “Because people are judgmental! Pushing your kid down the street in a stroller, someone’s going to scream at you, ‘Put a hat on that child!’ So do what’s right for you and your kid, and ignore those other people. Because if you discourage and pooh-pooh, the child will bury his needs and desires. And that will cause other problems. If someone tells him something he likes is too girly, you say ‘there are all different kinds of boys.’ The choices aren’t either ‘wear jeans and play trucks,’ or ‘wear pink and dance.’ I tell him, ‘You are a kind of boy who has long hair and likes pretty sandals and pink Crocs.’”
Idit Klein, the Executive Director of Keshet (a nonprofit that advocates for LGBT Jews) sums it up: “It’s about educating kids to be responsible citizens of the world as it is. Even if their immediate surroundings are homogeneous, they are growing up in a diverse world.”
And making school a safe space for a boy who loves false eyelashes is an opportunity for the entire school community. It’s not just about creating a safe environment for one child; it’s about creating a stronger school community as a whole, a school culture that is more protective for everyone.