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:
â€œParents are going to be judged no matter what,â€ she told me. â€œBecause people are judgmental! Pushing your kid down the street in a stroller, someoneâ€™s going to scream at you, â€˜Put a hat on that child!â€™ So do whatâ€™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 â€˜there are all different kinds of boys.â€™ The choices arenâ€™t either â€˜wear jeans and play trucks,â€™ or â€˜wear pink and dance.â€™ I tell him, â€˜You are a kind of boy who has long hair and likes pretty sandals and pink Crocs.â€™â€
Idit Klein, the Executive Director of Keshet (a nonprofit that advocates for LGBT Jews) sums it up: â€œItâ€™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.â€
And making school a safe space for a boy who loves false eyelashes is an opportunity for the entire school community. Itâ€™s not just about creating a safe environment for one child; itâ€™s about creating a stronger school community as a whole, a school culture that is more protective for everyone.