Summer Vacation: Q and A

Dear Chris,
     Our nine year old son has shown signs that he might be transgender. Although we are fine with this, we are afraid that his femininity is going to cause him to be bullied at camp this summer. How can we protect him without seeming like alarmist parents who anticipate the worst?
     – D and L, East Meadow

canoeingDear D and L,
It’s no secret that children who appear to be gay or transgender are often the targets of harassment. Having a frank discussion with the director regarding a camp’s policy on bullying before enrolling your child is always a good place to start. But seeking out a camp that actually caters to gender-different kids might be an even better solution. Camp Aranu’tiq is one such place. Their website explains the camp’s mission to “…build confidence, resilience, and community for transgender and gender-variant youth and their families through camp experiences.” Although I do not know enough about this camp to endorse it, I do recommend contacting the staff there and inquiring about their programs.

Dear Chris,
     Our large family includes children of several different races. People often stare at us in public, especially at the beach. Some feel compelled to ask very personal and inappropriate questions, such as “Are they adopted?” or “Are those all your children?” Is there a witty comeback that can make the point that the question was offensive without sounding nasty and exacerbating the situation?
     – N and M, Massapequa

DSC_1383Dear N and M,
Your question immediately reminded me of a similar situation involving my cousin Dawn, herself the mother of six adopted children of various skin colors. When a stranger asked, “Are they all yours?” Dawn calmly responded, “Why, yes they are. With six different fathers.”  Her response delighted the kids and immediately alleviated any awkwardness they might have felt. I suggest that you have a response like Dawn’s ready for the next time someone lets their natural curiosity trump their good manners.

Dear Chris,
     My husband and I were big into the bar scene in the late 90’s. Ten years ago we both got sober. Since then, we have been fine with serving alcohol to guests. We recently adopted a 2 year old girl and have decided that we do not want our daughter exposed to alcohol in our home. With our annual 4th of July Bash coming, is there a way to tactfully tell our family and friends about this change?
     – T and T, Setauket

bottlesDear T and T,
Alcoholism has been a problem in the gay community for decades. In fact, in an Op-Ed Column in The Advocate last March, writer Mark Rosenberg stated that, “According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, roughly 20% of all Americans binge drink. However, when compared to their heterosexual counterparts, LGBT people are twice as likely to binge drink and five times as likely to drive while intoxicated,” a very alarming statistic. I am certain that your family and friends are happy that you got your problems under control before becoming parents to your daughter. But that does not necessarily mean they will be happy about your decision to ban alcohol from your home. For many people, alcohol is an important part of summer fun, and your new rule may impact their enjoyment of your parties. Keeping that in mind, be sure to let your guests know ahead of time that your home is now an alcohol-free zone so that they can accept or decline your invitations accordingly.

By Chris McNamee

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