Saturday, April 10, 2010

God-awful parents and a good mother

In the past I've discovered some pretty horrendous parents. There was the woman who used her adult son's stroke as an excuse to claim guardianship of him in order to forbid him from seeing his partner of 25 years—because her religion didn't approve of his lifestyle. And because there are no equality-of-marriage rights she got away with it.

Then there was the case of Derrick Martin who fought for his right to go to his school prom with the date of his choice: Richard Goodman. Since this was happening in rural Georgia, where possums are plentiful and brains scarce, Derrick's parents threw him out of the house.

While their are some god-awful parents out there, by which I mean parents who are awful because of their god this doesn't tell the story of all parents. There are actually good and decent parents in the world and they don't get enough publicity.

Consider Leesa Nixon as an example. What she did was not covered by the media. Leesa has five kids and lives in North Carolina, not precisely one of the centers of enlightenment. (That's Leesa on the left.)

The story begins with a boy named Chase, who is not related to Leesa. Chase had gone through the bureaucratic BS that schools impose these days to attend the prom dance. He turned in the paperwork and waited for permission. Instead he got called to the Principal's office.

Chase described the experience himself:

“Today, April 6, 2010 I was called into the Principal’s office, I was unaware of the reason at the time. When I entered the office, Mrs. Parker was in the room, sitting at her desk and so was Mr. Samuel, the Vice Principal. Mr. Samuel was sitting in the corner of her office. I went in and Mrs. Parker, the Principal, asked me to shut the door, which, I did.

Mrs. Parker then asked me to sit down, and I think I did, though I only remember standing, but I believe I sat down. Mrs. Parker then tells me, that she didn’t realize it until she looked at my permission form for prom again that I was planning to bring a boy to the prom or something like that, and then she informed me that I couldn’t bring a friend as my date.

Mrs. Parker stated, that it was because other people would want to bring friends and it’s a rule that they’ve had for a while now, that you could not bring friends to the prom. I informed Mrs. Parker that Jordan is not my friend, but my boyfriend and she replied that she knew my situation was different but she couldn’t let me bring him.

According to Chase the school suggested he bring a "back-up friend" who is female instead. Chase said he'd rather not attend if he couldn't bring a date. Leesa very quickly learned of the situation and intervened. "I called and spoke with his principal and informed her that not allowing Chase to bring his boyfriend to the prom was discrimination and a violation of his constitutionally protect rights. I threatened to call the ACLU, (which I did) and go to the media."

The school got hold of their attorney and decided to change their policy. But they couldn't bring themselves to accept that gay students date members of the same sex. So now all such dates are referred to as "guests" instead. Because the school left the matter alone it didn't get much publicity.

So why did Leesa Nixon intervene on behalf of Chase? Simple: she was protecting her son, Jordan. Jordan (left) and Chase (right) are dating. When Jordan was 14 he went to a gay couple, friends of the family, and told them he was gay. They told him that he really needed to tell his mother and that there was nothing to worry about. He did. Soon after he started dating Chase. And not only did he fall in love with Chase but his mother absolutely approves of his choice. Leesa says that Chase "is a part of my family. I love him so much! He is a wonderful person and I could not have picked a better person for my son to fall in love with, if I had made him myself!!!"

On her blog Leesa wrote:

My son came home from their house...I remember we didn't even make in the door before he said, "Mom, I need to tell you something." Well, I looked him straight in the eye and replied, "Your gay aren't you?" Shocked the living shit out of him!!!! Hey I didn't become Queen Faghag to my friends for my lack of gaydar!!!

My son just looked at me and said, "yes, how did you know?" I will admit I started to cry, not because he is gay, but because I was watching all my dreams of a look-a-like grandchild fly right out the window. (he is the only child that looks like fact he is more like me then I readily admit..we even have the same taste in men.)

Truthfully, the main thing I felt was fear...fear that some asshole would find out my son was gay and kill him or hurt him in someway. He is so young and trusting! The thought of loosing him is terrifying. I love this child more then my life, it was never a question of accepting him just the way he is for me, but of protecting him from the crazy, bible thumping idiots in this world, who although their bible tells them not to...judge anyone and everyone who isn't just like them, harshly.

Leesa not only display a caring, loving attitude but a sense of humor as well. She wrote about a school sponsored over-nighter and how the teachers came to her because they weren't sure where to put Jordan. They wondered if he should share a room with girls instead of other guys. (If a school announced that policy every straight male in school would "come out" within in the hour.) Leesa first joked that they could put Jordan with the girls and "they would be perfectly safe" but then "I told them to put him with the other boys, that he was gay... not a rapist."

In another post she told of Jordan getting into a big fight with Chase right in front of her. "Unfortunately, for him, he was in the wrong and then had to spend the next 6 hours begging for forgiveness, just like a straight man." Jordan may have bite off more than he can chew. Mom is so pleased with his boyfriend she writes: "I live in fear that they will break up and Chase will no longer be around... I would miss him so much and I love like one of my own." I believe here. And actually I think that Chase and Jordan are very lucky. Leesa says that her son did buy a ring for Chased and popped "the big question... but they are still so young. I can only hope that are in forever because I couldn't ask for a better son-in-law!" This may also be the dream mother-in-law as well.

Given the bad news from some parents I felt that it proper to acknowledge a good parent as well.

As a libertarian I look a social relationships. Libertarianism is really all about how we treat one another—that none of us have the right to violate the life, liberty or property of others. Libertarianism requires us to respect others. Libertarianism restrains us, by forbidding us from violating the rights of others. In this sense it is an "other-directed" morality. True, it doesn't speak to many private matters. But I do think libertarian principles are good ones and useful within the family. Of course, religious fanatics like Jenny Roeback Morse, contend just the opposite, that the "laissez-faire family" is inherently deficient. (As expected she is also an antigay campaigner.)

It seems to be that Leesa is inherently libertarian in her parenting skills. She is respecting the fact that her son is gay and respecting his choices in his relationships. She is protecting his rights (and no government school has the right to discriminate) and supporting him. She is basically following a libertarian maxim: live and let live. But there is another derivation of that slogan that is equally libertarian and equally important: love and let love. And she has done that.

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