Adults need to stop putting kids on the front lines
We in the developed world like to pretend we abhor the use of child soldiers. Both the International Criminal Court and the UN regard the use of soldiers under fifteen years of age as a prosecutable war crime, and they mean it – the ICC’s inaugural case ended in a ruling against a warlord from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who used child soldiers during a skirmish in the early 2000s. The deeply flawed “Kony 2012” slacktivist documentary and associated movement proved just how uncomfortable modern westerners are with the idea of child soldiers – we’re not only willing to use our social media capital, but spend actual money to fight the idea of child soldiers (if not exactly the reality).
But we in the developed West have our own kind of child soldiers. We may not force them to kill, but we use them as weapons and shields in wars of ideology, sacrificing their well-being for the good of our cause.
Sadly, this kind of exploitation happens on both sides of the culture wars, but nowhere is the hypocrisy more pronounced than in the LGBT community, which consistently uses children to score political points at the expense of the kids’ privacy, health and reputation. In the last month alone, several egregious examples have gone viral.
In June, a young boy was performing a disturbingly sexual dance at a gay pride parade in Brazil while the adults around him cheered him on. Earlier this month, another child was photographed by the owner of the popular Humans of New York Facebook page sitting alone on his stoop with tears in his eyes. “I’m homosexual and I’m afraid about what my future will be and that people won’t like me,” read the quote below the boy’s picture – tugging at the heartstrings of many internet denizens (and drawing skepticism from others) and prompting presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and lesbian talk show host Ellen DeGeneres to post personal messages of encouragement. And then there’s this news story (and others like it), in which a California couple has embraced their four-year-old son’s “desire” to become a girl – labeling him “transgender,” changing his name and appearance, and landing a with National Public Radio in the process – a shining crown of achievement for any progressive couple.
All of these stories have one thing in common: Children are being stripped of their privacy and victimized in order to promote a social agenda that does not have their best interests in mind. People who felt uncomfortable with the raw sexuality of the Brazilian child’s twerking – and the enthusiastic reaction of the drag queens around him – were labeled “homophobes” by gay news outlets. The sad and photogenic New York boy is already a viral sensation on the internet, and will no doubt soon be a guest on Ellen, where he will be given ten thousand dollars and a platform to promote societal acceptance of homosexuality. The crossdressing California preschooler is mostly newsworthy because of his young age, which makes one wonder how young the next famous “transgender” child will have to be in order to make headlines. Can you “know” your child is transgender at 2? How about at birth?
If any of these children grow up to have regrets about what they’ve done, it will be too late for them to change it. Instead of sheltering them from the view of the gossip-hungry public, the adults in their lives have broadcasted their struggles with sexuality for the world to see, to be archived and searchable on the internet forever.
How brave will each of these children have to be to choose a path that differs from the one that made them famous? Or will societal pressure and expectations lock them into a destiny they “chose” before they even hit puberty? If the adults around these children cared for their well-being, they would tell the cameras to back off and let the kids grow up before making a public spectacle of their sexuality. Then again, that wouldn’t give the movement such sympathetic little spokesmen, would it?