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Baby Storm: Is gender freedom abuse or blessing?

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The Today Show had an interesting discussion this morning about a Canadian born baby, Storm, whose parents decided not to disclose gender. Apparently there are only seven people who know the sex of the four month old infant. These include the obvious; doctors, mother and father, two and five year old male siblings and a family friend.

Jayme Poisson, journalist for the Toronto Star, recently broke the story after spending a few days with the family. David Stocker and Kathy Whitterick of Toronto, Canada, made the decision to keep the sexual identity of their newborn a secret after parenting experiences (some would say experiments) with their two older children. Jazz and Kio, are allowed to wear pink, dress as girls, wear their hair long, and grow and play in other 'nonconventional' ways.

It appears this flexibility is already shaping the eldest child in some not so positive ways - he has asked to attend a private school because other children ask why he wears pink and dresses differently. Whether he will be more accepted in a private school remains to be seen.

How much are we shaped by the world around us, our families, our own sexual identities? How far would you go in allowing your child to be non stereotypical?

Although the overwhelming response has been one of outrage and the opinion that this is much more about the parents than it is about the good of their children, the question remains - is it possible to grow up happier without an assigned sexual gender?

Dr. Harold Koplewicz, leading child and adolescent psychiatrist, says no. "....an infant is not born as a clean slate...we can't pretend there are no differences between the sexes...." Koplewicz insists keeping secrets of any type are confusing and negative to a child's self esteem. In this case, not only would 'genderless' four month old Storm be harmed, but expectations from the parents for the two siblings of Storm to keep this secret is harmful as well.

What are your thoughts? How progressive should parents be in assisting their children in being whomever they want to be, regardless of sex?

Comments

Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

A bit off topic, but I even treat my dogs and cats different depending on their sexes. Call me old school. :)

I also am of the mindset that either sex can be or do whatever role they choose in life - and that it isn't necessary to strip infants of their sexual identity to do so.

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Rae Hudspeth 3 years, 3 months ago

Small point here, but an important distinction, this is about gender identity, not sexual identity.
If we still live in a society where sexual identity must often be kept a secret, I think they are making an important discussion point about gender expectations, not that making a point with one's child is a good idea, but parents seem to do it all the time.

I also think that it's no one's place to call judgement on the parents for their choice. Perhaps the child is a hermaphrodite? I don't think anyone can say with 100% conviction that the child looks male, we know there is enough of that sort of nonsense already damaging children whose gender is public knowledge.

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

Raerae, I mention at some point that the thought of the child being hermaphodite was the first thought to cross my mind and that perhaps the parents were giving the infant 'the gift of time' before making a decision of which gender it might choose to be. That doesn't seem to be the case.

Sexual identity is generally gender based, wouldn't you agree? They're generally tied together in many respects.

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Graczyk 3 years, 3 months ago

They are tied together by our cultural tradition, but not by nature. Other cultures even have categories for a third gender even though there are only two (generally speaking) body types.

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Jay_lo 3 years, 3 months ago

When children are old enough to make rational informed decisions, then parents should help them do so by encouraging conversation and supplying information to help them make their decisions, while trying to refrain from pushing them in any certain way.

Children this young have no idea of what these parents are trying to encourage, and will either be shaped by the parents ideas, rebel against the parents when they reach a certain age, or just be totally confused.

Help your children become who they were meant to be, but don't try to force your ideals and identities upon them. Explain your values to them and the reasons you have them, and they may end up choosing to follow a similar path.

Above all, be open and honest with them, and offer them your support.

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

I agree, Jay_lo. The very fact that there is a 'secret' in the beginning of a small life is a negative in my mind. There is NOTHING worse than secrets in families and I'm sure we all have examples of ones we've found out about within our own families. They never serve us well - nor do they serve a purpose.

If you've seen photos of the child, 'it' looks very male - that isn't to say 'it' is, but that will be the way outsiders treat 'it'. Strangers certainly aren't going to know the child is to remain genderless. Freaky concept - I say in a non judgmental way. :)

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TopJayhawk 3 years, 3 months ago

They better save their nickels and dimes, the kid will be in therapy all of his life, and will probably see a lot of mental hospitals as well.

Not only that, but he is already being tranied to be an outcast from all of society.

Similar things were done in the '70's, with very negative results. The kid knows he's a male, and the parents by not enforcing that or trying to de-emphasise that are, by their very "nuetrality " messing with the kids' head.

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RoeDapple 3 years, 3 months ago

I can only say our own children were raised to the best of our ability as best as we knew how. They are happy, well adjusted (in our opinion) adults in good marriages, jobs, lifestyles. We would of course like to take all the credit but know it can be the luck of the draw too. If these parents feel likewise, so be it. The children will probably accept themselves as "normal" as it will be what they have known.

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

That sounds rather permissive for a conservative, Roe! These parents have stated they'll adjust as the children grow older. I just think it will be strange when the invariable question, "Is it a girl or a boy?" comes up and the parents say, "We're not telling." Unless the child is homeschooled, it won't be a secret for long - what about those very public restrooms?

So we've had a man without a country and now we're going the route of an infant without sexuality? I don't think so. Children are sexual beings - regardless of what mom and dad may want to believe.

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RoeDapple 3 years, 3 months ago

As long as they stay in Canada! (damn foreigners! mumble,grumble . . .) No, as with raising our own, too many people offered advise WE didn't ask for. Unless there is evidence the children are being abused according to Canadian law they can raise them as they see fit. We may not agree with it but we can do little or nothing about it. Keep tabs on it though, would be interested in hearing what twenty five years add to the story. Hope I'm here in 25 years to read it!

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

Well, as mentioned in my blog and additional sources, it appears the eldest child is already suffering (not sure that's 'the proper term here), for being as he is. Of course many, if not all of us, can say we also experienced being made fun of, were bullied, etc., for being different in any respect from 'the norm'.

I wonder how they, the parents, will respond when the child asks if it's a boy or girl. And that time will come much earlier than they might hope.

I agree that the parents aren't breaking any legalities, but they're sure going against what childcare experts would say is healthy esteem and self worth. The parents may actually accomplish exactly what they were hoping to prevent.

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notanota 3 years, 3 months ago

Back in the olden days, kids tended to all be dressed and coifed in a very gender-neutral style until at least around age 3. They used to think the personality didn't "develop" until later, and they didn't feel the need to broadcast the gender of their children to the world.

And yet, somehow, they still managed to fit into very stereotypical gender roles once they grew up.

Yes, our cultural norms for clothing colors and hairstyles have changed over the years, but learning to dress "appropriately'' is a life skill. I'm still not going to get a job if I show up in an outfit that doesn't meet my employer's expectations, no matter how pragmatic, comfortable, or creative my choice is. What I'm saying is that there are hills to die on, and this just isn't one of them.

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

Nota, is your name I leaned over or Eileen Dover? :) Thanks.

I'm glad you make mention of olden days and how younins were dressed. Males and female alike were dressed in - well, long gowns or dresses. They didn't turn out more masculine or sissified either. Both genders could milk a cow, hoe a garden, mend a fence, herd cattle. As they grew older they discovered they were better equipped to handle some duties, jobs, chores than another due to body shape, size and personality preferences. Good point!

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notanota 3 years, 3 months ago

I think you're the first person who caught that it was a joke name.

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

Shirley Nota. Lol

If there is one thing I enjoy, it would be word play; especially when it's funny or bordering on ridiculous. I did have a second of innate fear that I'd just likely insulted someone. Nota. Hehe.

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notanota 3 years, 3 months ago

Ha! And now it appears I've been spanked by the powers that be, because my name's shifted back to anonymous.

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

Lol, it's a miracle. Sorry if I did a tip off. No ill intention. :)

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

Were you supported by your family/parents as a child?

How were you different or how was your life hell, if you don't mind sharing. I hope it's much better now.

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Jay_lo 3 years, 3 months ago

Remember, baby Storm is not "Gender Free", just "Gender Unidentified" except to a select few. Why did they wait to do this until their third child?

Because everything was ok while the children were at home, and the second child was born and identified before the oldest started school (the outside world). This is simply a reaction to him being picked on, and their idea of how to avoid it.

I strongly suspect that the older two were not simply "allowed" to pick from both sides of the aisle, but were actively "encouraged" to do so. After all, what is so gender free about a boy who chooses to look, act, and dress as a boy?

They are influencing their children's gender "identity" choices whether they want to admit it or not.

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verity 3 years, 3 months ago

I agree with you, Jay_lo. I cringe when I hear someone (always a woman) comment on how glad they are that their daughter or granddaughter is a girly girl. I also cringe when parents try to push their boys to be "manly."

I was pretty much allowed to be what I was---maybe more out of neglect than anything---and didn't seem to have as many problems going through adolescence as a lot of people. Sometimes neglect can be a good thing, certainly better than too much pushing.

Who decided what is feminine and what is masculine anyway?

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

Lol, I've got a close friend who refers to herself as girlie girl and I always wonder about that term myself. She isn't more or less than other females I know, but apparently wearing fingernail polish or pink makes her think she's girlie girl. Some women in blue jeans, boots and short dirty nails can be every bit as feminine.

And some of the biggest body builders I know are fine with being emotional and share tears freely. It's more the attitude one carries inside.

I was raised on a farm by grandparents and loved guns, horses and track. I grew up to be a fashion model, teamster organizer, police officer, mom and poet. We all have the capacity to function well in many hats and roles.

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

Good point about not being gender free. I actually thought the infant was both sexes when I first heard this was going to be on 'the news this morning - I thought maybe the parents were going to wait a couple of years and see which sexual role the child appeared to be most like before the decision of what surgical procedure to have. Go figure. :)

I agree that it would be most difficult for the parents to not be influencing the children's choices in this example.

The question also comes to mind whether parents do have a right to experiment with a child's mental health any more than they would with a child's physical health. Say these parents wanted to give the child access to meat only, or candy only? We see the state stepping in frequently for obese children and the role the parent plays in it. How far should parents be allowed to stray from the norm? Are children still property of the parent? Some people act as though that's the case.

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deec 3 years, 3 months ago

"How far should parents be allowed to stray from the norm?" That's a loaded question. Who decides what is "normal?" What if a parent disagrees, for example, that raising their children to be brand-obsessed good little consumers is normal? What if they belong to a religion that eschews contact with the outside world, or a religion that raises its offspring to hate other people (Phred, I'm talkin' to you!). What about parents who feed their children a relentless diet of fast food? That is certainly considered normal in our society today, but a diet based on McDonald's is not healthy. Do we want to live in a society where some unknown other gets to dictate whether we are raising our children normal enough?

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

I agree about the normal - that's why I set it off in quotes. We know it to be somewhat true that our culture has values that differ from other cultures. We also know it to be somewhat true that sexes in each culture vary - and that is also somewhat not true. I guess what I'm getting at is more about each unique individual and how much our genetic crapshoot of genes affects us regardless of culture, parenting and social norms. Oops, there is that word again. :)

Did you catch Dr. Oz this week with one show dedicated about obesity? He came down very hard on parents of obese children and how they should be held accountable for their huge role in their child's weight and future health. Society is setting precedents for removing extremely obese children from the home - rather comparing such actions to the health risks a parent places a child in health wise if they smoke around them.

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KansasPerson 3 years, 3 months ago

I don't think parents should use their children as social experiments.

I also don't think parents should use their children just to get on the morning news.

I think that these parents are imposing a "code" of at least as much, if not more, stringency than any that could be imposed by society at large.

Ronda, from what I read, the parents are indeed using a form of home-schooling called "unschooling" where the child's "natural curiosity" sets the free-form curriculum. Which is a whole 'nother topic, but seems to dovetail with their other beliefs.

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

Hello, Kansas. I hope you're doing well. Yes, children have been experimented on in many strange ways - some of which have been found to benefit 'a' child greatly - each child is so different it's hard to say. One child may excel when surrounded by individuals who each speak a differing language, another (likely me), would fail miserably! :)

I think in very mixed terms about topics such as this - in many respects I think the state has too much say and in others not enough. I guess it depends on which I agree or disagree with.

Perhaps that is best where the 'norm'discussed by deec and myself comes into play. Most of our cultural actions and societal law come into play by how the majority (another word for the norm) vote it to be.

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booyalab 3 years, 3 months ago

The parents may think they're instilling a sense of freedom but they're really just giving a different set of rules that aren't compatible with reality or the rest of society. There's no such thing as freedom from gender because gender exists and everyone knows it.

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

I agree. Sometimes the price of what some may consider freedom is quite high.

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

Ok, I'm game on. Ms. Palin, please do share your views about this situation. Do you all do anything in similar in Alaska? Perhaps denying your children are sexual beings who began copulating at 14?

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

And will Storm have a wedding partner from each sex to disrobe to? :)

The Enquirer will be coming out from under the bed and dressed as window cleaners to get the first shot. Lol

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Lisa Rasor 3 years, 3 months ago

I think what the parents are trying to do is not necessarily raise their baby gender-neutral forever--it seems to me what they're trying to do is keep her/him free of society's gender expectations and assumptions for as long as possible. And I think that's an admirable goal, but probably not realistic because our majority North American culture is quite rigid when it comes to gender roles and expectations. As for the boy who wants private schooling because he's being teased about wearing dresses, etc., the blame should be put on the society/culture/people doing the harassing, not on the parents who raised this child, and not on the child who is just being himself. These children sound like they are loved, well-cared for, and supported. Why are people judging these parents so harshly? Because we're uncomfortable with their parenting style? Please. How about saving our energy for all the abused and neglected children out there, of which there are plenty. Leave this particular Canadian family alone.

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

Not if we were discussing the inside of your diaper. :)

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brujablanco 3 years, 3 months ago

Tsk tsk Rhonda. Ok What trumpery - maybe you can inrease your vocabulary since your maturity level seems to be stuck in Jr. High. :-)

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

Catiefan,

I haven't observed anyone judging in a harsh manner. There has been some interesting observations and discussion, however.

A black friend of mine just sent me the comment that it seems similar to a child of mixed race/heritage finding out and having to make adjustments in life - or a child who was adopted and not told until they were older or found out on their own. Less lies and secrets in my mind makes for a stronger relationship, regardless of intention.

These parents do seem caring, concerned and loving. So do many parents who hand their child a pop tart or a honey bun each morning for breakfast.

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Lisa Rasor 3 years, 3 months ago

I think we're making the assumption that the parents are going to hide the child's gender from the child her-/himself. In the couple articles I've read about this, I did not infer that. It sounds to me like the parents want to keep the gender a secret from the outside world, not from the child. What's bad about that?

(BTW, "fewer" secrets and lies, not "less.")

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

Catie,

I'm not noticing anyone inferring that. Most of the comments have been about how other people will react to the child and how that may affect him/her.

Btw, that would be more secrets and lies, not less. :)

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Fixed_Asset 3 years, 3 months ago

You are kdding me, right? A "black" friend telling you this about a mixed-race child? How does a child suddenly "find out" they are of mixed race??????????????? My goodness - how transparent and ceratinly not a good analagy at all.

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

Why would it seem odd that a child wouldn't know they are a mixed race? There were/are many mixed race people who have no idea about their family tree until they trace their roots back. You make it sound as though mixed races would have tell tale signs that they are mixed - many certainly do not.

I'm sure there are numerous children who are adopted who might never find out - maybe they give birth to a darker pigmented child and may found out or suspect from that. Or genetic testing for another reason (race specific diseases) - use your imagination, I'm sure there are as many examples as there are people.

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beatrice 3 years, 3 months ago

Not adhering to society's ideas of gender are fine ... if you aren't part of society. I believe social standards for gender roles can be restricting, but that is what being part of a society is all about. Fight against it, sure, but pretending it doesn't exist is willful ignorance to reality. Sorry, but it really does take a village to screw up a child. Parents shouldn't try so hard to do it all on their own.

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

I agree, Bea, and with supposedly the best possible of intentions. No one sat down with me to inform me that I was female, but it sure wasn't discussed that it should remain a secret from others. I'd think that in and of itself would make a child feel pretty strange about themselves.

How are you?

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

I haven't noted any assumption along those lines, but there is the implied confusion to the child - if it's some big secret that implies to the child that there is something rotten down below.

Btw, it's more secrets and lies, not less. :)

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50YearResident 3 years, 3 months ago

I think it will be halarious if the kid decides he is one of the family pets and assumes the identy of a cat or dog! How do kids learn if no one teaches them? Remember the wild dog boy in Australia?

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

Good one, 50YearResident. We sure see varied ways that people screw with their children. Where is the line determining if the parents are taking this too far?

I haven't heard the late night comedians on this one yet, or SNL, but I hope they get wind of it.

It seems progressive parents often are light years behind. :)

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verity 3 years, 3 months ago

After more thought on this, I think there may be some confusion in the difference between gender and gender roles.

Gender is what you are born with (usually). Gender roles are what society decides is appropriate behavior for a gender and this is where I have problems. As a society I think we often judge others very harshly for being different. I think it is the society-imposed roles that these parents are trying to avoid, not gender itself.

That being said, I have to wonder about the unstructured education. I do think that children need some structure in their lives if they are going to learn self-discipline. I really hope they succeed and don't need to use the college fund for therapy.

Something I noticed at an early age was that it was ok for me to be a tomboy (haven't heard that term in ages) but it was not ok for a boy to do things that were considered feminine. That was "sissy." The term itself has negative connotations even for a girl. I definitely thought I had the better of it---until I was older and wasn't allowed to do certain things because I was a girl. Still p!$$3$ me off!

What think you of that, Rhonda?

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

I agree with much of what you say, Verity. I think the parents are trying to save their child(ren) from sociatial placed attitude about who they are and should be, but to do that it seems they'd be better served to support their children in whatever they wish rather than denying who they really are. Hormones do affect our personalities to an extent. I'm with you on being a tomboy; I felt it was a compliment - I don't know any guys who thought being called a sissy would be a compliment - maybe it's the way it is said as opposed to the actual words. I truly felt capable of being whatever I wanted until I experienced the extremely stereotypical views of the PD - I was told I should be pregnant and barefoot, or doing the male officers, otherwise it must mean I was a lesbian. There was no in-between. . I was also told I didn't belong on the force and that the male officer would feel out of place at a sewing club - like I wouldn't have. :)

I've always loved guns - never enjoyed sewing or dolls. But I.also believe I'm one of the most maternal and feminine people. Who knows? We're all an amazing blend of genetics, experienced, god's purpose.

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LadyJ 3 years, 3 months ago

Hope they're planning to home school the kid. What a dilema trying to decide whether to go into the boys or girls bathroom. If the child is physically a boy, the parents of the girls may not be happy with him being in the girls bathroom. On the other hand if the child is a girl but identifies with the boys, I'm sure the boys will be thrilled to have her in their bathroom.

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verity 3 years, 3 months ago

Like I said above, I don't think (and I may be wrong) that the issue is gender identity, but gender roles.

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

Don't they go together? And will keeping one a secret, will it really affect the other? I guess we'll find out.

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

I see what you're saying, Lady. In order for the parents/family to have this work then other people can't know what gender the child is. It will be an interesting story to follow. We homeschooled our children for several years, but as do most home schoolers, we made a huge effort to expose our children to as many varied aspects of society as we could. This included scouting, field trips, classes in combination with other home schooling families, dance and sports, etc. And we had a woman from Spain come to our house to instruct Spanish. Home schoolers generally are more active in society - not less.

I may not have read the same article you have - I thought the family had been sending the elder child to school and he'd recently requested a private school since he was being questioned about long hair, pink clothing, etc. Private schools won't be different on that front I don't believe.

What do you think? Are private schools more accepting? The ones I'm thinking if wear uniforms. :)

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LadyJ 3 years, 3 months ago

Homeschooled myself and took a lot of flack because of it but the results were great. Unfortunately I saw a few that the kids really received no schooling at all. I heard SRS stepped in on one family but only because they were on public assistance. For the record, started homeschooling because of bullying and being different. Have seen that a couple of the bullies have crimminal records now.

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

Interesting. I'm glad you enjoyed your experience. What ages were you homeschooled? Was this lead by your parents or were you old enough that you were mostly unsupervised with computer assignments through a school system? Sorry about the grief you received about it - jealousy? :)

I suspect home schooling will continue to thrive with the economy issues and teacher layoffs. I felt home schooling helped the children/teens I knew not only in their self esteem, and self motivation, but self discipline and creativity. Let's face it, creativity doesn't have much encouragement within most school systems - that's one additional reason that art and music are essentials.

I enjoyed the family nature of home schooling - I'd gone to a one room school house where grades one through eight were taught together, separately and older children learned by instructing younger children. The teacher knew exactly what each student's strengths and/or weaknesses were. And she did give us assignments over the summer. :)

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LadyJ 3 years, 3 months ago

Sorry for the misunderstanding Rhonda, I meant to convey that I homeschool my daughter also, but can answer your questions anyway. It was totally my daughter's idea. She begged from 1st grade but my husband was against it. It got so bad that if there was a substitute that day, I would take her home just to keep her safe. This after a substitute stood by while the bullies smacked her around on the playground even after she went to her for help. Finally after the third day of 5th grade it was evident that it just would not work (she was a wreck) and I just took her out. Took my husband about a month to figure it out but since his two sons (my stepsons) had dropped out of school and had started getting into trouble the year before, he had no problem with it. There was no virtual school back then. We used Abeka and Alpha Omega programs. She was disciplined enough to do it on her own with the computer but usually went to work with me (part time) to do her work or at the rink where I would drop her off for the day. I don't know about you, but we didn't take summer breaks. When she got to college she always took classes during the summer too, it drivers her crazy not to have something to work on or study. Was it jealousy? For some of the kids, yes, as for the rest, she was the kid that always followed the rules and always behaved. Some kids really hate that. I am quite sure if I had not gotten her out of school, at some point she would have committed suicide. It was amazing to see her transform from miserable and depressed child to a happy and eager scholar. She is almost finished with grad school and ready to get a P.H.D. Interestingly enough she is going into Higher Education.

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for the clarity, Lady.

Your story is heartbreaking and unfortunately not all that unusual. The fact that you were intune enough to appreciate your daughter was having such a horrific time is wonderful and especially that you did something about it.

In years past, many parents told their child to ignore the bullies, or fight back, etc.

Continued good success to your daughter!

I'm so happy your family had a happy ending to this common nightmare. And I'll bet she doesn't turn a blind eye should she see something going on - nor a deaf ear should she be approached for help.

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LadyJ 3 years, 3 months ago

Should have mentioned, some of the bullying was probably racial since my daughter is bi-racial. Her kindergarten teacher was definitely prejudiced and I was not the only parent that noticed that.

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denak 3 years, 3 months ago

I think Verity is getting at the crux of this matter, what it is that is really bothering people. It isn't that they are keeping this child's gender a secret that bothers individuals, it is because they are pushing against the accepted norm that what is "right," what is "normal" is male.

If these parents were raising three daughters to have male gender characteristics, then people would be patting them on the back and saying what good parents they are for not limiting their daughters. But because these parents are allowing their sons to wear dresses and wear pink, which is feminine, we are chastising them. All this is is nothing more than homophobia and misogynism wrapped up as a controversy. It is only controversial because it goes against the male definition of what is normal.

A few months ago, there was a little uproar because a female magazine editor was photographed with her young son painting each other's toenails. The child looked supremely happy and the editor looked like a mother in love, but the uproar was about her allowing him to paint his toenails pink. Forget that they looked like a parent and child who were comfortable and loved(which is much more important). Noooooooo, it was all about "how dare she let him paint his toenails). The unspoken implication is "she is turning him gay."

So, all of this rest on one assumption. Male and male gender roles/characteristics=good. Female gender role/characteristics=not as good, less, weak and by extention homosexual.

This is what this really is all about.

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TopJayhawk 3 years, 3 months ago

not it at all.... Small children instinctivly know what they are. The parents are setting these kids up to be made fun of. If a girl were to come to school wearing boys clothes, they also would be made fun of.

Because small children, even as young as several months old develop characteristics of their gender, these kids are being confused, and this will probably last a lifetime.

The feminist crowd did studies back in the '70's to try to prove your point about parental influence. Guess what? All they managed to do was prove they were wrong.

You may not like it, but deal with it.

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

Good points, Top

The longer I'm around children the more I see their innate differences. I actually wanted to believe, or deny the existence of what others believed, that differences between the sexes existed - and there are exceptions - but I've come to learn they come as much or more from inside genetic factors than society based ones.

It reminds me of the old saying that stereotypes generally exist for a reason. The stereotype does not fit everyone in a group that it is directed towards, but enough that the stereotype came about.

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deec 3 years, 3 months ago

Girls do go to school in "boys clothes." When I was a grade schooler, girls were not allowed to wear pants to school, except in the winter. Then we were allowed to wear pants under our skirts. This was the 1960s. I'm not convinced children, who for the most part grow up watching tv where gender roles are firmly reinforced, are naturally drawn to gender-specific toys, colors, activities. Barbies are marketed to girls, trucks to boys. A boy in elementary school who wants to jump rope will be mocked, as will a girl who wants to play ball. This is not innate nature; this is social reinforcement of stereotypes. A mom who opts to dress her baby only in yellow and green rather than pink or blue may hear about it from the older family members and even strangers. Social pressure to conform to gender roles is not the same thing as innate nature. Also, could you cite some of the studies you reference? I'd like to read them.

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

I'm not sure to whom you were addressing the question about studies. If it was to me, they aren't on hand. One of my majors was human development - family life and they'd be from the 70's and 80's. There are numerous ones so you won't have a difficult time finding many on any topic you choose.

I think there is less social pressure on girls to conform in their early years - maybe because our society, as do most, seem to honor the male more than female. Interesting, eh, how it all plays out.

I've known men who are secure enough in their own skin that they wear long hair and even dresses and make up. How the majority of society judges them you can well imagine.

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deec 3 years, 3 months ago

It was addressed to the person who stated that the feminist studies proved innate differences. I think this is unlikely, as the studies I am familiar with show that social programming rather than innate sex-based behavior are the cause.

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pizzapete 3 years, 3 months ago

I just hope this kid doesn't end up being as messed up or mixed up as his or her parents.

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

Yes, I need to find out more about the life experiences of the parents to discover why this is such an important issue for them that they've felt the need to take it to this level. Perhaps they've had personal experiences that have left their mark - or they're extremists following an ideology. Who knows, the children may be nurtured and supported enough in their early years that they have a strong start. As we know, each child will be affected differently, regardless of their sex.

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Paul Hahn 3 years, 3 months ago

A few thoughts on what these parents are doing...

99.99999% of the world lives in a world where gender is at least an aspect of identity and belonging. A child who grows up with no reference for his/her own gender will experience the social equivalent of growing up on a diet free of protein. Socially, something "normal" in the human experience would be completely missing. I think - if these parents "succeed" - that this child will grow up with all kinds of "issues".

I have to say that this is either neglect or abuse (it's hard to say which) because they are actively seeking to deprive the child of the natural experience of discovering a meaningful aspect of who they are.

It doesn't matter: it'll soon be public knowledge what's between the child's legs, and society will do what his/her parents won't do.

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

Paul, as some readers have pointed out, the parents may reference the child's gender in some respect at home, but maybe not. Maybe they don't feel the need to address body parts. I think that's a mistake as well. A penis is a body part, as is a nose, an elbow, a vagina. It's good healthy parenting to teach children about their bodies so they can care for them appropriately.

If everyone in the family is male except for mama, at some point the child will notice. I'd bet money that mama breast feeds. :). And I say that in a positive manner. These parents are progressive if they're anything.

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verity 3 years, 3 months ago

Thank you, denak, for your 10:20 post. You said it better than I could.

I ask again, who decides what is masculine and what is feminine? Who decides what is proper?

Ronda, I feel very sorry for what happened to you in the PD. I've gone through life doing pretty much as I damn well pleased in my personal life (within reason and, usually, the law) and for the most part people have accepted it. I think part of the reason is that I just do it and don't throw it in anybody's face---not comparing that in any way to what happened to you at the PD---some @$$ needed to be kicked there.

It's not just gender roles that have us boxed in---it's things like the kind of house and yard one must have, the way one lives, and so on forever---and people just do it because that's the way it's done and they want the approval of others.

Honesty, kindness, the golden rule---that's what's important.

Back to your question, Ronda, no, I don't think gender identity and gender roles are the same. Identity is what you are born with, roles are what society imposes on you. I think that Storm's brothers know what gender she/he is and they will not try to keep that a secret from her/him---the parents are concerned with the outside world imposing roles. I'm not saying I agree with everything they're doing, especially the fact that they seem to be using Storm as a human guinea pig, but it certainly is starting a conversation that I believe needs to be had.

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

Verity, I absolutely agree there are many things boxing us in - it's how we break out of those boxes that I've been trying to figure out. A tent on pasture land during spring and fall would be nice; a cabin in Colorado in summer would be grand! :).

Sometimes I think our lives are as much about survival as they were in a Soddy house on the prairie as in our great grandparents time. I'm trying to loosen my load where it comes to material items.

I've heard of a book about keeping just one hundred items (which right now sounds enormous!), and I'm hoping it will help place importance on items; prioritize! Books count as one item - library! And we can keep friends and family. :) Idon't think gender roles and identity are the same, but I think they're closely tied together for a multitude of reasons. I don't blame Storm's parents for trying to change the way things are, but maybe they should focus on themselves rather than the youngest child. I wish them absolute success. I think they'll find that is with all components of our lived, regardless of what they do their will be positives and negatives. Control what we can and accept that other stuff! :)

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Lisa Rasor 3 years, 3 months ago

Ronda, I don't see where the parents said they wouldn't teach their child what body parts s/he has. I think the child will grow up with a good sense of her/himself; free of the gender stereotypes placed on people within society.

denak hit the nail on the head with her/his post.

Another point that's being missed is: There is a difference between gender identity and gender expression.

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

I don't see where they said it either, catie. I'm just hoping they will tell him/her and it sounds as though they're well educated so they should. I do know people who do not though and that's absurd in my mind. To each his own as the saying goes.

I just love how people come up with new ideas to try - people probably always have and we dismissed then as the 'odd' family up the block, but the media has helped us all become aware of new thoughts and methods of parenting. Catie, good point about gender. I think we know and accept there is an absolute difference between gender identity, gender expression and gender - but each one absolutely influences each of the others. They're tied together.

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camper 3 years, 3 months ago

Totally not qualified to comment on gender, but great topic Ronda, I always grew up thinking girls were mysterious, on a higher plane, yet somehow out of reach. Yet me and my buddies were romatics so we always dreamed. The polarization of genders and identifying with one seems to be natural and something parents should not delve in because they could be denying there siblings of discovering oneself and more importantly the beauty and charm of the opposite gender. And it is still best for men to apreciate women as the fair sex.

Not sure this is relevant, and I cannot say I know what the lyrics mean, but this cd has been playing on my way to work this past week.

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

Well stated and in a unique manner, Camper.

I'm not sure of the relevance of the song either, but any excuse for a song! Thanks. :)

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for taking the time to post these, Verity! I'm off and running this morning, but I'll read and comment later today. Farmer's market and writing group all morning.

What's your take on dear old mom? :)

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camper 3 years, 3 months ago

Bad link Ronda, I'll try again. This movie influenced

http://youtu.be/j0XClu_oqkE

And this song too http://youtu.be/e2QzIynIPZk

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

Play on, Camper! I'll talk with you later.

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verity 3 years, 3 months ago

From reading the articles at the above links I think we have probably all jumped to some unwarranted conclusions---which of course always happens in these cases.

A few more thoughts on the subject. When I was a child I decided that my father thought I was a boy and, since that seemed to be a benefit to me, I was not about to disabuse him of the idea. Later I realized it was because he believed in equality although he didn't talk much about it. The idea of equality of the sexes was unusual for that time. I played with dolls, dressed up as a princess, climbed trees and drove tractor and nobody in my immediate family seemed to think anything about it.

During the 60s and 70s I often had remarks made to me about what I should be or not be doing as a feminist. I finally realized that although the rules for so-called feminism were better than the ones for inequality, they were still somebody else's rules and still a prison. That was when I decided to make my own rules.

The argument between nature and nurture goes on---my opinion is that the percentage of each differs for each person. However, what we are talking about here is roles assigned by society, not the innate characteristics we are born with.

I ask again---who decided what is masculine and what is feminine? Who decided pink is feminine? Personally I dislike pink---and once again it seems pink shirts are in style for men just like they were in the 50s.

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

I agree, Verity. Who does come up with the male or female standard. What's the song.... 'In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking, now heaven knows, anything goes!'. The more people just 'are' and allow others to 'be' the better off we shall all become. It seems to me the school system really puts a damper on the individual nature of children. Children must dress, write, color, talk, walk and act the same so they can somehow 'be graded. Where that system started I do not know!

You're very lucky you had such accepting parents - I was fortunate too. As they say, pick your battles - hair, tattoos, clothes. What do they matter?

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impska 3 years, 3 months ago

Here's what I think we can all be certain of: Doing interviews about your wacky parenting style is always a mistake.

Basing your parenting style on a wacky novel: probably a mistake.

All in all these people seem pretty pleased with how they turned out and how much more enlightened they are than the average person. Talking to the press about how much more enlightened you are and discussing your superior methods of parenting smacks of using your children to make a point about society's norms.

Here's an amusing quote from the Huffington Post article linked above: "Witterick said the couple has been trying to keep their children safe from a media frenzy but said it has been difficult."

I imagine it can be difficult to protect your children from a media frenzy when you give their pictures to the media, talk to the media about your peculiar parenting choices and discuss the negative ways those choices are impacting your eldest, and then use the self-made media frenzy to pontificate about your superior world view.

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Ronda Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

Sarah,

Good points all. You didn't say anything I disagree with. I know the journalist said she felt the parents were loving and the children appeared to be well adjusted. My question is how did this journalist find out about the couple. Did they contact her, did it leak out to the media via someone such as a midwife. Do they post birth announcements in local papers in Canada the same as they do in the states and when the couple stated they wouldn't give gender of the child the story started. I do not know. If anyone has more info along those lines, please share.

If the parents contacted the media, that's a whole different story.

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