It was a sunny morning in the early spring of 2017, and I woke up in a pretty good mood. The weather was decent, most of my clothes were still clean, I wasn't driving kids to community service, and we weren't expecting any visitors, so all in all it was one of those days when I could wear more or less anything I wanted to. I chose an Oxford shirt, a black sweater (to complement my nail polish), and my favourite purple and blue skirt.
Then I remembered I had to stop by the veterinarian’s office to pick up some stuff for my cat. While I doubted anyone who worked there would really care what I was wearing, you never know who else might be in the office, so I threw in a pair of khakis I could wear there and back.
That morning, I paused from my social media work to check my email. And then I froze. I had completely forgotten that we had booked a photo shoot that day with my Humanities 7 class for the Bulletin. I hoped the kids would randomly remember I’d mentioned it the previous week, and… I wondered whether this shoot was to include me or just the kids.
On my way to class, I happened to run into Nicole, who was managing the photo shoot. She told me they were going to focus primarily on the kids but take some with me, and that I should wear whatever I wanted.
That totally appropriate response left me tied up in knots. Kids had seen me in my skirt all morning. To change into my khakis would be sending the kids a message that I very much did not want to send, but on the other hand... Feeling utterly miserable, I slunk down the stairs to change in the bathroom. I changed back right after the shoot, but that did little if anything to salve my conscience.
Greg Curran notes, in the beautiful Can We Come to Your Wedding? "Working in a system where there’s an overwhelming silence about LGBTIQ people, I never feel far from the closet door.” If adults can feel this level of uncertainty, imagine how a vulnerable teenager or pre-teen might feel.
I know in my heart that I let my kids down that day. More than a year later, that thought still haunts me. But. So what? My regrets don't matter one iota in the absence of action.
The Spring GLSEN-Massachusetts conference is coming up on April 28, one day after GLSEN's national Day of Silence (which unfortunately falls on Spearth Day - April 27 - this year). Several GSA (Gender Sexuality Alliance) members were hanging out waiting for Rock Band to start, and one of them asked me if I'd be taking them again. I responded that I was certainly planning to attend, and had talked with their advisor about helping drive kids there if needed.
That simple question was rooted in the assumptions that I would be anticipating their need and desire to attend the conference and that I would want to help (which I was and which I had done). That tells me that, if I'm not always living up to my own expectations, I'm certainly on the right path in the kids' eyes. That is a comfort.
But I can not let that comfort bring complacency. Rather, I will use that comfort to strengthen my resolve to take further action. The kids need that. I need that.
Now, to follow through.