Explaining HB2 to My Son With Autism

My son is thirteen, very intelligent, thoughtful, and asks a lot of questions about current affairs.

So, after I mentioned that his aunt, who lives in North Carolina, was upset at the recent canceled concert by Bruce Springsteen, my son asked why.

I don’t know about most parents, but with my son, I fell he’s mature enough to handle some adult topics. In the past, he has asked why countries like North Korea go around threatening the US, and why terrorists bomb places like Paris, France. We have discussed these topics in the past.

So, after he asked me about the Springsteen concert, I felt an obligation to explain it to him.

What did I say?

Firstly, I told my son that his aunt is not and would never be in the camp that supports HB2, formally known as the Public Facilities Privacy and Securities Act. She did not vote for North Carolina’s current governor and is not a bigot. She does, however, reside in North Carolina.

Secondly, I told him that his aunt is not even that much of a Springsteen fan. Her husband, my brother, was a huge fan. He died last December.

I explained to my son that his aunt bought two tickets after her husband died, and wanted to go to the concert in order to honor her late husband. She lives in the Greensboro area and she would have gone anyway—with him. This time, she was going to take a friend with her. It was going to be difficult for her to get through the concert, but she wanted to do it for her husband.

I told him that I felt his aunt was more upset at the thought of not being able to honor her husband by attending the concert. My brother had adored this rock icon since he first came on the scene in the early 70’s. My brother was that kind of “crazy” Bruce fan, having attended hundreds of concerts and owning so many bootlegged concerts that I think he lost count how many he owned.

Thirdly, I had to explain the whole situation behind the cancellation.

How detailed did I get?

I did quickly ask that question in my head just before the words came out of my mouth. I was alone with my son at the time. His daddy was not around to offer a supportive front (which we have a tendency to do with the “larger” topics.)

Still, I went ahead and explained the situation as I know it, and how I feel about it.

I told him that the governor of North Carolina quickly signed into law a bill that discriminates against the LGBT community. The legislation blocks cities and local governments from passing antidiscrimination measures that could protect gay and transgender people.

I explained that this law came about because the city of Charlotte, North Carolina passed an ordinance that would have expanded the rights of LGBT individuals. Among other things, it would have allowed transgender individuals to use the bathroom of the gender that they identified with, not the one they were both with. This was considered progressive thinking. Mature and accepting.

My son asked me about the word, “transgender.” I told him that some people are born female and later in life identify as a male, and vice versa. They make a “change,” and that change is permanent. This is how the truly feel about themselves.

He also asked me to explain the other terms in LGBT. In broad terms, I told him that some people are gay and lesbian, men are with men, and women are with women. And, some people don’t care if they are with a man or a woman, no matter their own sex.

I told him that it doesn’t matter to me. Another person can be with whomever they want. It’s their life, not mine. And, I do not feel anger or any bigoted feelings towards them.

I continued to explain the story behind the HB2 bill. I said that the North Carolina state legislature immediately responded to the Charlotte ordinance by blocking it. The state government quickly signed a law that blocked those expanded right to LBGT people. The short-handed name of the bill is HB2.

As a result, the Charlotte ordinance had to be repealed.

Also, the new law allowed for no more “tinkering” by local governments. The law of the state had the final word. Cities and local governments had no say in how to treat and/or protect individuals.

I told my son that I believe the bill was a mean way to take rights away from certain individuals, specifically those in the LGBT community.

I told him that some people are known as bigots. These are narrow-minded people who cannot tolerate other people who are not exactly like them. It is an irrational and unfair mindset, and should not be allowed in a country that is trying to progress into a country with a mature mindset toward others.

The bill was written and passed in an ugly way, quickly and with only bigoted attitudes driving it.

I told him that the point is that all individuals need to be treated with respect. However, there are people in our country who want to treat this specific community—the LGBT community—with less rights than they deserve. We call these people bigots because they think they are “better” than others. If an individual lives a different life than they do, they feel it’s wrong somehow.

And, those individuals in government sometimes get away with things like the HB2 law.

How did he react?

He asked me about the person that he knew, his aunt.

I re-interated that she does not feel this way. She is not a bigot.

However, she is caught in the middle of this situation. She not only lives in North Carolina, but she wanted to go to the Springsteen concert for very personal and painful reasons. She’s angry because she now cannot do something that she really wanted to do.

I also repeated that I do not support that bill, either. Nor does his daddy. Neither of us feel that way.

I told him that he has to learn to respect all individuals, no matter of their personal choices. Most of those personal choices do not affect him, so there’s no reason to feel anger, hatred, or defensive.

I said that there are still bigots and they still get away with things. Hopefully, we will continue to head away from bigotry and toward being more accepting of all individuals.

 

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