I have given you an introduction to my son and our struggles with his Asperger’s Syndrome. Now I will give you the story of his struggles within himself.
Since Taylor was a toddler, he always loved long hair. The only thing he wanted was Barbie dolls, much to certain friends and family members’ dismay. He even had an imaginary friend, whose long, silky locks he would stroke for hours as he talked to himself. For Halloween many years, he wanted the girl costumes, and when we would go to friend’s houses to play, the princess costumes were his favorite.
We live in a military community, where real men wear blue and green and they wrestle and play sports. We signed Taylor up for soccer, which was short-lived when he kissed a girl on the cheek in the middle of a game and the girls’ parents screamed across the field at my six-year-old child so disgustingly that he ran crying, and refusing to ever go back.
My husband was unsure of how he felt about all this. But I reasoned with him that either Taylor would see that the other children would pick on him and he would stop to fit in, OR he would say, “Screw what you like, because THIS is what I like.” Either way, he would be the one to make the choice.
Over time, Taylor has adjusted by cutting his hair short and wearing men’s clothing. He is almost twelve. But I still catch him wearing my accessories and dancing in my heels. He is comfortable in his skin.
But others are not comfortable with him.
This year, things have escalated. As a sixth grader, he rides the school bus with the high school children. He has undertaken abuse and bullying on a daily basis. He has come home with fist-sized bruises on his arms and thighs, and has been slammed in to lockers and called “fag” and “gay.” My baby comes home crying daily, and I don’t know what I can do to protect him. The school’s stance is that anything that occurs at the bus stop is not the school’s responsibility, and the bus driver says he does not witness any of this behavior. Last year, they DID catch one of the children abusing him inside the school on camera, but the bully was not suspended or expelled. If it weren’t too late to notify the state of my intent to homeschool, I would have pulled him out. Now we count down to May as if it were Christmas, so that we can move, and hopefully, find a school district that has better control over the situation.
With so many children his age committing suicide over these same issues, it’s time to take a stand and insist that schools take these issues gravely. I make my son stay downstairs when he is home, because I don’t want there to be an opportunity for him to be alone too long if he is emotionally distraught. When I was his age, I too, was bullied. Teachers saw, and they did nothing. I know not much has changed. Most believe that kids should just “toughen up” to prepare for life in the real world. I want my son to learn to stand up for himself and I give him that opportunity. But it only goes so far, because I am still the parent.
It’s time that parents buck up and take responsibility by teaching tolerance. I don’t care what your religious beliefs are, or if you live in a conservative household. It’s a matter of right and wrong. I don’t know if my son is, or will be gay, but to me it doesn’t matter. This is my child, as there are many out there like him. You don’t have to approve of him, and you sure as hell don’t have to approve of my parenting style because I “let” him do these things. He is a human being and he makes his own choices as to who he is. My only job is to love him unabashedly, and fiercely. And that is what I will do.