I have heard children use the term “gay” before. One particularly recent occurrence took place this school year when one of my students used this name to refer to a peer who had angered him. This particular child has a multitude of anger issues and often is very reactive to name-call amongst his peers. In this instance, I comforted the child who was emotionally distraught over being yelled at and called this, then proceeded to have a conversation with the other little boy. I asked him if he knew what “gay” meant or where he had heard it used before. The little boy admitted he did not know what the word meant and had heard it used in a derogatory fashion amongst members of his family. Comments such as these have carried such negative connotations for such a long time that they can be emotionally damaging to children’s self-esteem, especially when children are using words like this without any sort of frame of reference as to what they are saying. These comments made out of context will also continue to misrepresent words such as “gay” and send mixed messages regarding children’s identity (Derman-Sparks and Edwards, 2010).
One of my major concerns in terms of sexual orientation stems from the fact that as a Christian, I do not believe that homosexuality is right. While I know this is often not a popular view and is looked upon as intolerant, I am a firm believer in the old adage: “love the sinner, hate the sin.” While I am nowhere near intolerant of people living homosexual lives, it is not something I feel comfortable promoting within my Kindergarten classroom. I do however, believe in loving every child entrusted to my care and establishing strong partnerships with their parents regardless of their race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or anything else.
Derman-Sparks and Edwards Derman-Sparks, L., & Olsen Edwards, J. (2010). Anti-bias education for young children and ourselves. Washington, DC: NAEYC.