Don’t Be A Jerk

My main rule in my classroom of eighth graders is ‘Don’t be a jerk.’ This simple statement covers a lot of ground: Don’t be a jerk when choosing groups; Don’t be a jerk when someone is speaking; Don’t be a jerk and refuse to do any work (and then blame me when you are failing)…I wish people would use that little rule when posting on social media. Don’t be a jerk and air your family problems. Don’t be a jerk and post about issues upon which you are clearly uneducated. Don’t be a jerk and just join in a conversation because it’s the topic of the day. And please, do not be a mean-ass jerk.

As you can infer by now, this is not going to be my normal post about running or fitness. Some recent posts on Facebook have left me both disappointed and angry, and since this is my blog, I can state my opinion freely, and you can choose to read or not, but please, don’t be a jerk; I’m really tired of jerks. If you disagree with me, write your own blog. If you agree, please share.

A friend of my posted a meme recently that stated, “Being gay is like being left-handed. Some people are, most people aren’t, and nobody really knows why. It’s not right or wrong. It’s just the way things are.” I love this! I am left-handed, which some people seem to think is a great oddity, and my daughter is gay. This meme makes perfect sense to me. Of course, someone had to be a jerk, and he commented, “I’m not condoning them. Used to B called queers.” This person also sits in a church pew nearly every Sunday. I was furious, so I commented “What a Christian thing to post. No one had better call my daughter a queer. I’d take her over a hypocrite any day.”¬†While he certainly has a right to his beliefs, he has no right to resort to name-calling. He and those like him are the reason so many avoid church. Even though most Christians I know are nothing like him, people like him are loud, and often the only ones heard. If someone has not been around many Christians and that is his or her only experience with Christians, it doesn’t look very inviting, does it?

The next topic I’ve grown weary of is the transgendered bathroom issue. People are being really ignorant about this. So many have posted that their little girls are now in danger when they enter a public restroom. Yes, they are. But it isn’t because of trangendered people. I am far more afraid of and disgusted by all the people who don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. Seriously. This presents a much higher chance of something happening to your daughters than a transgendered woman peeing in the next stall. And what about those people who dribble on the seat and don’t wipe it up? Gross. Those germs are way more dangerous and can actually cause harm.

Out of 1000 Americans, three are transgendered. If you assume that half are women transitioning to men, then less than two out of 1000 Americans will be sharing the bathroom with you. And the chances of them being in the bathroom at the same time are pretty slim, so do you really think this will be an issue in your life? Do you really think that’s the place a pervert will be looking for his/her target? No. Responsible parents accompany their children to a public restroom, and stay very near them. I would presume your children are in much more danger in the aisles of Target or at the playground where parents tend to let their guard down. Thirty percent of sexual abusers are family members, which leads me to believe that your children are in more danger at a family gathering than in the bathroom at Target.

What do you know about transgendered people? Some of the posts I’ve read make me assume that some people are confusing transgendered with transvestite. They’ve stated things about men dressing up as women and entering the bathroom. It’s not the same thing. I know two trans people who are transitioning from being a woman to a man. It is something they have struggled with their entire lives. A person posted on Facebook that God doesn’t make mistakes, and if someone is born a girl, she should stay a girl. I am a Christian, and I believe that God doesn’t make mistakes, but nature does. If we lived by what this poster said, should we not correct deformities that children are born with? Afterall, God doesn’t make mistakes. Should my beautiful niece who was born with a cleft lip have been denied surgery to correct it because God doesn’t make mistakes? Should a child born with a heart defect forego surgery to repair the defect because God doesn’t make mistakes? Really, what is the difference? I cannot imagine going through life knowing I was in the wrong body. I cannot imagine the depression and lack of worth that would bring. I cannot imagine having to spend my life with others judging me when they don’t even bother to know me. Is that really what Jesus would do? Is that who you want to be?

My daughter has a wonderful friend from college who is transgendered. He is transitioning from a female to a male. Guess what? He has spent weekends at our house. We love his company, respect his loving personality, and empathize with his situation. We judge him based upon his ethics, how he treats others, and his personality; we do not judge him over something over which he has no control. Who are we to say he should remain a female? His own mother will not let him stay at her house, nor will she help him with college. While I also cannot imagine giving birth to a daughter, and that daughter becoming a son, I do know I would never turn my child away because I was worried about what others would say or think. God calls us to love. Above everything else in the Bible, we are to love – no conditions, no exceptions, no excuses. To not love your own child? To me, there is no bigger sin.

It seems some people seem to equate transgendered or gay with pervert or sexual deviant. This simply is not the case. Homosexuals are no more likely to commit crimes against children than heterosexuals, and many reports say they are less likely. My daughter is gay, but she is in no way a pervert. That’s just ignorant. Please do not assume that people from the LGBT community are any more likely than your hetero friends and acquaintances to harm a child. It simply isn’t true. They just want to love and be loved; they deserve to love and be loved.

Just because you don’t understand something, does not mean you have to be a jerk. Your children are not in danger just because a transgendered woman has to pee. Would you really rather a person who appears to be a woman enter the men’s bathroom? Would you rather Addie’s friend, who certainly looks male, come into the woman’s restroom? Can you even imagine the stress trans people feel just because they have to use the restroom? Could you not be a jerk and try, instead, to learn about the transgendered community? Could you please just show some compassion and try to understand the constant struggle some of our friends face every single day? And for God’s sake, don’t be a mean-ass jerk.

We aren’t all bigots in Indiana

If you usually read my blog because it’s based on running and fitness, be warned that today it isn’t. At times I just need to write about what’s on my mind at the time, and this is definitely one of those times. This week, Indiana’s leaders, including Governor Pence, signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Bill. Let me start by saying I am a Christian. I was raised in the Christian church from birth. I have a strong faith, live a good life, and try very hard to live my life as Christ would want (those who know me know I have a long way to go!). I also have a daughter who is gay. I’ll get to that later.

This week, I am completely dismayed that our representatives can disregard their constituents, and sign a bill that allows discrimination against homosexuals. Here is the legal language of the bill:

Religious freedom restoration. Prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless the governmental entity can demonstrate that the burden: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest. Provides a procedure for remedying a violation. Specifies that the religious freedom law applies to the implementation or application of a law regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity or official is a party to a proceeding implementing or applying the law. Prohibits an applicant, employee, or former employee from pursuing certain causes of action against a private employer.

The leaders have said it’s misunderstood: ” they say it’s supposed to be a standard for the courts in cases involving religious freedom.” Bullshit. It allows a business to deny service to someone based on sexual orientation because it’s against the owner’s religion, and the government cannot burden that exercise of religion. Seriously. It’s 2015 and our state just took us back to the 1950s. The leaders have said the bill is just like federal legislation put into action by Bill Clinton. Bullshit. That bill was signed to allow women to wear religious garb in the workplace and Jewish men to wear yamakas without fear of consequences. The intent of these bills is not the same. One was created so that someone isn’t discriminated against, the other allows discrimination without consequences from the government. If that wasn’t Indiana’s intent, perhaps they should have worded it differently. When the entire country believes it encourages discrimination, there’s a problem, Governor Pence.

Multi-million dollar companies have threatened to pull out of Indiana; the NCAA has issues with bringing their athletes to Indiana; people on Twitter have said they will no longer spend their money in Indiana. This law does nothing positive for our state. It makes all of us look like a bunch of unacccepting rednecks. It is going to hurt our economy. And it hurts people. Real, honest, hardworking, contributing members of our communities. George Takei called for a boycott of our state. They are boycotting our state, Governor Pence. I think your hopes for a presidential run just went down the drain along with your integrity.

Christians. As I said, I am one of you. My faith has carried me through many wonderful highs and devastating lows in life. I’ve studied the Bible, and spent hours and hours in Sunday School and church. In none of my Christian education or reading did I learn that it’s okay to turn anyone away. Jesus – whom Christians are supposed to follow – denied service to no one…NO ONE! He spent time with Mary Magdalene, the prostitute; he loved her. He went to have dinner with Zacheus. We sang about it, dammit. The wee little man? Why don’t you remember? Jesus spent his time with ‘sinners’ and outcasts. He showed love to everyone. Saying you can’t serve someone because it goes against your Christian religion goes directly against the teachings of Christ. Will you also refuse to serve the following?

  • Divorced and remarried people? The Bible says they are adulterers. A big no-no.
  • Men and women who had sex before marriage? Sin. It clearly goes against Biblical teaching (there goes your business).
  • Those who use God’s name in vain? Heck, that’s even a commandment.
  • People who covet their friends’ big homes or luxury vacations? Lots of jealous people out there.
  • People who work on Sunday, not keeping the Sabbath holy? Are you open on Sunday?
  • Women who cut their hair or wear make-up? According to the Bible, that’s a sin.
  • People who drink or eat too much? Over-indulgence in food and drink…SIN.

Why do so many Christians choose which ‘sins’ are important? Who do they think they are? The Bible, above all, commands us to love. That’s it. Love. If you disagree with homosexuality, fine. But please know it isn’t a choice. Why would my then 16 year old daughter come to me to tell me she is gay if it were her choice? Why would she put herself out there to face the scorn and judgment of others? No kid wants to be different and be the target of bullies. I am heterosexual – always have been. I couldn’t make myself desire other women if my life depended on it. If I wanted to rebel against my parents or society, I still couldn’t just ‘decide’ to be gay one day. Could you? I got a text from a great friend who is also upset about this new law. She texted, ‘I am straight and the last time I checked, I can’t remember the moment when I ‘chose’ to be straight.’ We have no more control over our sexuality than we do the color of our skin. But it’s illegal to refuse service to people of different ethnicities, isn’t it?

My beautiful daughter is one of the best people I know. She is a senior, preparing for graduation and college. She is in the top 10 in her class, president of the National Honor Society, a golf and tennis player, drama club member, band member, and the list goes on and on. She is kind to everyone, willing to help others, and she’s gay. That’s a small part of the amazing person she is, yet someone could refuse to serve her because her ‘gayness’ goes against his or her religion? Someone could hurt her so deeply because our government won’t ‘burden his or her exercise of religion’? How is that following the Bible? How is that following in Christ’s footsteps? As her mother, it breaks my heart to think that this is even possible.

The implications of this new law will continue to embarrass Hoosiers. I have yet to see one positive aspect of signing this bill. I, despite having been raised Republican, have always stayed out of politics because I despise the double talk, but we have to stand up and be counted. And when the leaders of our state disregard our wishes, we have to fight harder. In a couple of weeks, the anger over this bill will die down, but we can’t let it go. Social media is powerful; use it. Email your representatives. Let fellow Americans know that we are not all bigots. Most of us welcome and encourage diversity. Most of us are loving and friendly. Our governor? Not so much. He had his own agenda, and cares nothing about what he is doing to our state. He is narrow-minded and uninformed. He is not representative of a Hoosier.