Dancer gets a lesson in tolerance after saying she feels ‘weird’ changing near her friend’s lesbian mothers
A 13-year-old dancer has been given an important lesson on tolerance after she wrote to an advice columnist over her discomfort with a friend’s lesbian parents.
The teenage girl wrote to Jeanne Phillips of The Mercury News after she had a dance recital where mothers helped their daughters change in the dressing room.
She was made uncomfortable when she saw that a girl near her had two mothers, telling the advice columnist that the lesbian couple’s presence made her feel “self-conscious.”
“I’m normally not like this, but it felt awkward, to say the least. I’m not against same-sex couples, but it felt weird. Am I overreacting?” the girl wrote.
The advice columnist told the girl that she had no reason to be uncomfortable around a lesbian couple.
Thankfully, the advice columnist gave the girl an incredibly important lesson on acceptance and tolerance of LGBT+ people in her response.
Phillips agreed that the girl was overreacting in her response, and told her: “Those two mothers were more interested in what was going on with their daughter than with you.”
She continued: “If you plan to become a professional dancer – or part of any branch of the performing arts – you will be changing costumes under all kinds of conditions.
Those two mothers were more interested in what was going on with their daughter than with you.
“This means you will be around straight males and females, gay people of both genders and, occasionally, trans people. It’s a fact of life because separate dressing rooms may not be available.”
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The columnist’s succinct response captured expertly the importance of teaching children that LGBT+ people are not “weird”, but are just normal people.
Research suggests LGBT+ acceptance among young people is on the decline in the United States.
Sadly, the girl’s concerns are not unusual. A GLAAD survey released last year found that young people in the United States were the only category where queer acceptance had declined.
18-34 year-olds are usually thought to be the most progressive group when it comes to LGBT+ acceptance, but the survey indicated that many straight and cisgender young people are less than accepting.
The Accelerating Acceptance Index found that 36 per cent of young Americans felt “very” or “somewhat” uncomfortable learning a family member is LGBT+, compared to 29 per cent in the 2018 report.
34 per cent said they felt uncomfortable having an LGBT+ doctor, up from 27 per cent in 2018, and 39 per cent would feel uncomfortable if their child were to have an LGBT+ history lesson in school, compared to 30 per cent last year.
The report suggested the decline in acceptance among young people was caused by “divisive rhetoric in politics and culture”.