Dutro_muder_trialSince I read this story yesterday morning, I’ve thought about what to write. Unacceptable incidents like this just kill me and make my heart ache. It is tragic and horrific and unbelievable, and it gets even more sad because it is true and real and can’t be dismissed as some nightmare.

Jessica Dutro believed her 4-year-old son, Zachary Dutro-Boggess was gay, prosecutors told the court Wednesday, and that was her motive for subjecting him to deadly beatings.

Dutro, charged with murder, murder by abuse and second-degree assault, is on trial in Washington County Circuit Court.

Those who oppose LGBTQ Rights do so, predominately to try and stop same-sex marriage. Indeed, the only secular/non-religious argument they have against same-sex marriage is to suggest that children raised by an opposite sex couple are better off than children raised by a same-sex couple. But really underneath it all, is an animus against gay and lesbian people for their failure to conform to socially constructed norms of gender expression.  In their eyes, gay men and lesbian amen are monsters because they don’t look and act like men and women are supposed to look and act, and the fear associated with their inability to control this. In this case, Dutro and her boyfriend beat to death this young boy because they couldn’t control his gender expression. Did they think that if they punished him, he could act differently? Or did they just hate the way he acted so badly that all they care about was expressing their own hatred.

This article talks specifically about the Utah case against same-sex marriage, but in reality, every major legal defense against same-sex marriage has revolved around this same argument:

The myth that gay people are a threat to children has long been propagated by opponents of LGBT equality, from those who have claim that gay people are more likely to be pedophiles (false), to those who claim that gay people recruit children to be gay (false), to those concerned that children in schools will learn that gay people exist (not actually that scary). The state of Utah has filed its opening brief in its appeal to defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, and the arguments are rife with dog whistles supporting this same hackneyed misconception.

The horrific Dutro story touches on a few points that are worth exploring because they illustrate the fallacy of this anti-gay myth:

The welfare, safety, and health of children are not always the top priority of parents in opposite sex couples.

Good parenting isn’t based in the gender of each parent or significant adult close to a child. Rather good parenting comes from placing the child before the agendas of the adults. This incident is not indicative of most opposite sex couples-m it may be the exception rather than the norm, but even if the vast majority of opposite sex couples wouldn’t harm a child like this, the issue isn’t the gender of the parents. The issue is how adulates may use their own fears, prejudices and hatred to motivate their abuse of others including their own children.

Indeed the suggestion that only an opposite sex couple can adequately raise children is merely a method to perpetuate culturally constructed expectations of how boys or girls are supposed to act.  The requirement for opposite sex  in the two parents does nothing to benefit the child, rather it solidifies adults’ irrational viewpoints of gender roles and gender expression.

Can a 4 year old “be gay”?

Most adult gay and lesbians I know express that they knew at a very early age that they were different from other children, but does that difference equate with being gay? Is being gay a statement of self identification or is it a state of being that is present no matter if it is understood by the individual themselves or not. Did this child understand himself as different, or is this only a story of two hateful adults  for whom a child didn’t live up to their expectations?

Does this case  offer proof that being gay is in-born and not a choice? Would prominent homo-haters who claim that gays choose a life style say that this 4 year old had made a choice to be gay?

In my opinion, children are neither gay nor straight. They may express qualities and behaviors that others identify as masculine or feminine, quiet or flamboyant, heteronormative or not. But sexual orientation and identity only becomes pronounced and identified during adolescence. Sure a young child who isn’t heteronormative may indeed come to understand him or herself as gay or lesbian. But if our adult culture was more acceptable of sexuality as a fluid experience, is it possible that many of these children may identify as bisexual instead? Sexual identity is as much a cultural construction as heteromormativity and expected gender roles.

We live in a culture of violence.

The real enemy of the modern family and society isn’t homosexuality, but rather violence. We sews this in a plethora of ways such as how parents abuse their children in many ways; a culture that turns a blind eye to rape; a society which sends thousands of our youth off to die in a war based on a lie about WMD’s; and a society accepting stand your ground laws. Heck, the perpetuation of a war on drugs which promotes economic inequity so that there is an unacceptable propensity for the poor to be black and unable to break out of poverty is an other example of a culture promoting violence. We waste billions building jails, but we fail to feed the poor or provide adequate education. This is violent behavior every bit as much as kicking a child to death.

Homophobia is real and must be talked about!

In 2012, the Associate Press chose to remove the word homophobia from the style guide  claiming that it shouldn’t be used in political or cultural contexts, but that is exactly where discourse about homophobia should be happening. How else do we understand the actions of these adults towards a 4 year old child? Do they illustrate a mental illness or a propensity to use violence and abuse as socially acceptable?

The affect of the AP’s action is to silence the use of the term homophobia which is exactly the wrong thing to do. We need more dialogue surrounding it, and the various ways it is expressed and perpetuated.

Full LGBTQ Rights is about protecting children.

The movement for full LGBTQ Rights including Marriage Equality is about protecting children every bit as much as it is about rights, protections and benefits for  gay, lesbian, bi, trans and queer adults. Little children like Zachary lack the power and ability to protect themselves like adults do. We can not necessarily protect them, but we can change the social acceptance towards LGBTQ people so that there is less animus out there.  Truly what happened to Zachary was extreme, but thousands of youth experience disapproval from their parents for being LGBTQ or demonstrating a nonconforming gender expression. Often parents harm, neglect, ignore or disown their children and they act as if it is acceptable because of LGBTQ animus or homophobia.

via Jessica Dutro murder trial: Motive for Tigard killing was 4-year-old’s perceived homosexuality, prosecutors say | OregonLive.com.

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