Teaching Tolerance

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What’s that word? I look down. Spray painted on the playground equipment is the word ‘faggot’. As I look down at my daughter I’m thinking that I need to keep it simple.

“It’s not a nice word used to describe someone who is gay.”

She thinks for a second and then asks, “What does gay mean?”

Oh, boy. I pause, thinking about what I want to say next. I understand the gravity of this teachable moment. It comes down to tolerance or bigotry, love or hate, understanding or ignorance. Because parents play a large role in creating the lens through which their children see the world, what I say next carries weight. I have the opportunity to show her that embracing our differences makes our world a better place.

I look down at her sweet face. In her eyes I see the reflection of innocence and curiosity as she hungers to understand the world around her. I take a deep breath.

“You know how you like boys?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Well, in the same way you like boys, some girls like girls and some boys like boys.”

“Oh,” is her only response as she lets it sink in.

Satisfied with the answer she shrugs her shoulders then turns and goes back to playing with her siblings. I smile, knowing that through her lens she can’t help but see a unicorn dancing on a rainbow.