Teaching Kindergarteners About Gay Marriage

I’ve been holding my tongue for a while now.

My son, Waylon, started kindergarten this past August. Until two weeks ago, his entire public school career had overlapped with the campaign against Prop 8. Although we live all the way across the country in Texas, we heard the rumors about focus groups in California: lesbian and gay families with children weren’t testing well and were asked to keep a lower profile while more palatable spokespeople made the case for our marriages.

Now that we know how well that strategy worked, I can finally talk about my latest obsession: insinuating gay marriage into the kindergarten curriculum.

As adults, I think we tend to repress the trauma of the first day of kindergarten. When we dropped him off in the cafeteria for the first time, Waylon looked like a deer in the headlights. One of his classmates was crying so hard that his tears literally made a puddle on the polished institutional tile.

Watching our baby navigate a new place, new people, and a new routine was heart wrenching for us too. For the first week, my wife, Katy, and I stood in the hallway every morning until his class trooped by in their single file line. We blew last-minute kisses, wiped away our own tears, and exchanged hugs of solidarity with the other parents.

With all of these emotions swirling around, we had little time to think about how conspicuous we were–nor could we spare much thought for how to instruct Waylon and his classmates in the virtues of gay marriage.

Luckily, Waylon’s first assignment was to create a “me” collage to introduce himself to the school. A demanding and opinionated artist, Waylon insisted on including a printout of his first ultrasound, when he was just a tiny bean in the womb, as well as a staged photo of himself standing next to the Obama sign in our front yard. He selected sandbox snapshots of his three best buddies, a formal portrait of our dogs, and two family photos: one from our annual outing to the Nutcracker and one from our vacation trip to the Space Needle.

Once this unapologetic propaganda for alternative lifestyles was adorning the halls, we didn’t have to wait long for our next point of entry. The second unit in the kindergarten curriculum was “family.” I’ll admit that we felt some trepidation about this topic – who wouldn’t, when conservative commentators are constantly reminding us that this embattled institution is the cornerstone of all civilization? Katy checked in with Waylon’s teacher, who encouraged us to supplement the classroom’s collection of family books. Being a bleeding-heart social worker, Katy went a little overboard; she donated books on adoptive families, interracial families, single parent families, and penguin families. How better to spread the gay agenda of inclusiveness?

Luckily, our careers as LGBT activists and intellectual elites also give us the flexibility to volunteer in Waylon’s classroom. Katy’s favorite gig is field trip helper, and mine is guest reader. Just the other day, I brought in notorious gay author Maurice Sendak’s Chicken Soup with Rice. You should have seen all those five year olds, sitting in a circle and calling out the refrain of this unabashed paean to the love-that-dare-not-speak-its-name: a boy’s passion for chicken soup.

But, to paraphrase George W. Bush, where’s the accountability? How do I know that Waylon and his classmates are really learning about gay marriage? The answer is clearer than a standardized test. One fall evening, about six weeks into the semester, we were at the PTA’s backyard concert. Katy and I were setting up our lawn chairs next to the soccer field when we were suddenly surrounded by a roving band of five-year-olds. “Waylon’s Mom! Waylon’s Mom!” they called indiscriminately. Their questions betrayed an unwholesome interest in our marriage:

“Where’s Waylon?”

“Will you tie my shoe?”

“Can I have a dollar for a glow bracelet?”

“Where’s Waylon?”

Finally, one extremely promising pupil clarified the homosexual subtext of the entire exchange. “I know Waylon has two moms,” she said, matter-of-factly. “Because I have seen you both!”


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