A gay, transgendered student was shot by another student at his junior high school this week.
In Tuesday's Moms Are Talking About we told you about Lawrence King, a 15-year-old who was shot in the head by a classmate. King was declared brain dead Wednesday, and the 14-year-old male suspect now faces a first-degree murder charge, according to the Ventura County Star.
Classmates say Lawrence was a homosexual, transgendered student who sometimes wore high-heeled boots, makeup, jewelry and painted nails to school. The shooter had allegedly bullied the victim for quite some time. We called Cornell University psychologist Ritch C. Savin-Williams, author of The New Gay Teenager, for tips on teaching our own kids tolerance for transgendered kids. "Parents must do everything they can to create a wide spectrum of gender expression," he says.
Here are his top five tips:
• Start early. Even toddlers can learn that gender expression is okay.
• Encourage emotion. Allow your child to cry and express his or her feelings.
• Watch your language. Ban expressions like "boys don't cry" or "girls aren't pushy" from your vocabulary.
• Offer kids a variety of toys. For instance, don't say things like, "You want the truck, right?" to your toddler son. Let him decide--even if he chooses a doll or princess toy.
• Allow kids to be open and positive about peoples' differences. Even if you aren't tolerant of gay or transgendered people, your children live in a world that's very different than it was even 20 years ago. "Teach your child about the world that will come," Savin-Williams concludes, "not the one you were raised in."