This is an issue full of optimism. I don’t know if I’ve ever looked at one of our magazines as it’s gone to press and seen such a remarkably cogent and consistently affirming body of work. Not everything is sunshine and daisies, but even the negatives spin toward survival. It’s a testimony to potential. There aren’t as many limits on the people of this community and it’s beginning to show in lives being lived openly and without reservation. It’s not just that “It Gets Better,” it’s full of the spirit of “We Can Do It!” that reminds me of Rosie the Riveter in her iconic poster.
It was no mistake that we paired up our annual School’s OUT Issue with a Children & Family Quarterly, since it casts a wide net across a certain segment of our community. But, it’s also a nice piece to read for those of us who don’t have kids, aren’t kids, and maybe aren’t planning to have kids, simply due to the fact that we can read about what all of these people are doing and find what applies to us in terms of courage, tolerance, hardship, and limitlessness.
That’s what this optimism is, it’s limitlessness.
This is an era in our history that will be defined by limitlessness. Minnesota, more than a number of other states, has evolved into a place where the members of this community can dream of lives that might be lived, now that so many limits have been removed. No, it’s not a utopia for anyone, but it’s got a framework and is moving toward having an infrastructure that will support the people of this community in more aspects than ever, including marriage, having families, playing in sports, not being bullied at school, in addition everything and everyone covered by the Minnesota Human Rights Act which was amended in 1993 to cover sexual orientation, including protecting transgender individuals from discrimination. Of course, limitlessness isn’t always just handed over, unchallenged, but the infrastructure and the people who have, are, and will be trained to enable and encourage this limitlessness are increasing in number and reach.
And where better for this encouragement of limitlessness to happen than in our schools and in our reproductive freedom? Have you noticed how reproductive freedom is about choice, not just for terminating or continuing pregnancies, but also the freedom to do what Chris and Anders (on the cover) did in figuring out a way to have baby Hugo? Reproductive freedom, by definition, includes the enabling and encouragement of limitlessness in reproduction. Though I can’t find any pairings of reproductive freedom with same-sex rights, the activists would be prudent to get on that wave as this is how inclusion should expand the topic. Reproductive freedom means that we are free to give our gametes (sperm and eggs) to others to enable them to have children; we are free to lend our wombs to people as gestational carriers. This is an exciting time as we embark on this journey of legal same-sex marriage and the baby carriages that can follow, now in more of a—dare I say—traditional sense than ever.
Inseminations, surrogacies, and adoptions will become more matter of course as we progress through these next years. I predict a great jump in service providers who will make it their business to ease the legal and medical processes for same-sex couples to have children, however it’s done, including artificial insemination, in-vitro fertilization, surrogacy, and adoption. Having looked into taking my own reproductive future into my own hands at age 37, I know for a fact that setting myself up to try to have a baby on my own can be as simple as doing some research and putting items in an online shopping cart prior to making an appointment at a reproductive clinic not even 5 miles away from me. Limitlessness with a credit card number and a few clicks of a mouse.
Of course, all of this takes plenty of time and thought. Parenthood is not a flippant choice to be made, but, then again, it’s not like there is a high chance of accidental pregnancies in this community. These choices take deliberation and intention. And, after all the thought and consideration, it’s still a choice. We can do it. Or, we don’t have to do it. How very empowering.
Then, if the choice is to have a family, we can look to a great number of examples in this issue for kids to be able to grow up in an increasingly tolerant and safe society. Yes, there are the negative examples—the current and grandfathered coping mechanisms that we will hope to see transitioning out of our society—that are responses to negative circumstances. Estranging ourselves from hateful family members, such as Nathan Phelps did, or shutting down our feelings, such as Cody W. did, are valid and they have been survival tactics for many, that will hopefully be needed less and less as we continue to evolve. And, as a testament to the changing times in Minnesota, there is an overwhelming majority of positive examples of kids and adults who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, gender non-conforming, and straight allies in the issue, both as contributors and as subjects. The diversity doesn’t end with those distinctions, but continues to include People of Color, athletes, older students, ROTC, first generation students, students from a variety of economic backgrounds, and students who organize to continue fighting for the rights of the people of this community and beyond.
We find ourselves facing a future of opportunities to teach and learn, no matter what our age is or who we are surrounded by: kids, adults, family members, coworkers, legislators, health care providers, friends, faith leaders, to name a few. Let’s find the examples of teaching and learning that we want to emulate and strive to become good examples, ourselves.
With you and without limits,