import kids

in sixth grade my homeroom teacher caught this kid stephen saying,
“that’s so gay.”

so he told the class that for the rest of the week, anytime you wanted to express something negatively, you could say,
“that’s so stephen.”

and it started out as a joke, where even this stephen kid was going around using it, laughing at it, not really caring. it was funny, i guess.

but then one of his friends got a bad mark on a test and said,
“that’s so stephen.”

we had a blacktop recess and everyone kept saying,
“that’s so stephen.”

and when we got too loud doing groupwork and had to separate and work silently, everyone in the class kept muttering,
“that’s so stephen.”

and the weirdest part was that even though it was just a word we were using, even though it had nothing to do with stephen,
we all sort of blamed stephen.

and as everyone kept using “that’s so stephen,” all week, you could see stephen himself finding it less and less funny.
we played a game called “pamplemousse” in french class and everyone got stephen out right away if they could.
someone literally went and found one of stephen’s art projects when nobody else was around and ruined it so he had to start over.

and when my homeroom teacher found out about it, he sat everyone down and told us that it wasn’t okay to say “that’s so stephen” anymore. that the things we’d been blaming him for weren’t his fault and the things we’d been doing to him weren’t fair.

he told us that stephen couldn’t help it that he was stephen. he didn’t choose to be stephen. he was born stephen.

and that’s when it clicked.

we all felt pretty stupid, i think, for sort of falling for it, but i’ll be damned if i’ve ever had a teacher get a lesson across so utterly and completely as mr. bernard did.

it hadn’t even been the full week.

Rick Riordan won a Stonewall award today

for his second Magnus Chase book, due to the inclusion of the character Alex Fierro who is gender fluid. This was the speech he gave, and it really distills why I love this author and his works so much, and why I will always recommend his works to anyone and everyone.

“Thank you for inviting me here today. As I told the Stonewall Award Committee, this is an honor both humbling and unexpected.

So, what is an old cis straight white male doing up here? Where did I get the nerve to write Alex Fierro, a transgender, gender fluid child of Loki in The Hammer of Thor, and why should I get cookies for that?

These are all fair and valid questions, which I have been asking myself a lot.

I think, to support young LGBTQ readers, the most important thing publishing can do is to publish and promote more stories by LGBTQ authors, authentic experiences by authentic voices. We have to keep pushing for this. The Stonewall committee’s work is a critical part of that effort. I can only accept the Stonewall Award in the sense that I accept a call to action – firstly, to do more myself to read and promote books by LGBTQ authors.

But also, it’s a call to do better in my own writing. As one of my genderqueer readers told me recently, “Hey, thanks for Alex. You didn’t do a terrible job!” I thought: Yes! Not doing a terrible job was my goal!

As important as it is to offer authentic voices and empower authors and role models from within LGBTQ community, it’s is also important that LGBTQ kids see themselves reflected and valued in the larger world of mass media, including my books. I know this because my non-heteronormative readers tell me so. They actively lobby to see characters like themselves in my books. They like the universe I’ve created. They want to be part of it. They deserve that opportunity. It’s important that I, as a mainstream author, say, “I see you. You matter. Your life experience may not be like mine, but it is no less valid and no less real. I will do whatever I can to understand and accurately include you in my stories, in my world. I will not erase you.”

People all over the political spectrum often ask me, “Why can’t you just stay silent on these issues? Just don’t include LGBTQ material and everybody will be happy.” This assumes that silence is the natural neutral position. But silence is not neutral. It’s an active choice. Silence is great when you are listening. Silence is not so great when you are using it to ignore or exclude.

But that’s all macro, ‘big picture’ stuff. Yes, I think the principles are important. Yes, in the abstract, I feel an obligation to write the world as I see it: beautiful because of its variations. Where I can’t draw on personal experience, I listen, I read a lot – in particular I want to credit Beyond Magenta and Gender Outlaws for helping me understand more about the perspective of my character Alex Fierro – and I trust that much of the human experience is universal. You can’t go too far wrong if you use empathy as your lens. But the reason I wrote Alex Fierro, or Nico di Angelo, or any of my characters, is much more personal.

I was a teacher for many years, in public and private school, California and Texas. During those years, I taught all kinds of kids. I want them all to know that I see them. They matter. I write characters to honor my students, and to make up for what I wished I could have done for them in the classroom.

I think about my former student Adrian (a pseudonym), back in the 90s in San Francisco. Adrian used the pronouns he and him, so I will call him that, but I suspect Adrian might have had more freedom and more options as to how he self-identified in school were he growing up today. His peers, his teachers, his family all understood that Adrian was female, despite his birth designation. Since kindergarten, he had self-selected to be among the girls – socially, athletically, academically. He was one of our girls. And although he got support and acceptance at the school, I don’t know that I helped him as much as I could, or that I tried to understand his needs and his journey. At that time in my life, I didn’t have the experience, the vocabulary, or frankly the emotional capacity to have that conversation. When we broke into social skills groups, for instance, boys apart from girls, he came into my group with the boys, I think because he felt it was required, but I feel like I missed the opportunity to sit with him and ask him what he wanted. And to assure him it was okay, whichever choice he made. I learned more from Adrian than I taught him. Twenty years later, Alex Fierro is for Adrian.

I think about Jane (pseudonym), another one of my students who was a straight cis-female with two fantastic moms. Again, for LGBTQ families, San Francisco was a pretty good place to live in the 90s, but as we know, prejudice has no geographical border. You cannot build a wall high enough to keep it out. I know Jane got flack about her family. I did what I could to support her, but I don’t think I did enough. I remember the day Jane’s drama class was happening in my classroom. The teacher was new – our first African American male teacher, which we were all really excited about – and this was only his third week. I was sitting at my desk, grading papers, while the teacher did a free association exercise. One of his examples was ‘fruit – gay.’ I think he did it because he thought it would be funny to middle schoolers. After the class, I asked to see the teacher one on one. I asked him to be aware of what he was saying and how that might be hurtful. I know. Me, a white guy, lecturing this Black teacher about hurtful words. He got defensive and quit, because he said he could not promise to not use that language again. At the time, I felt like I needed to do something, to stand up especially for Jane and her family. But did I make things better handling it as I did? I think I missed an opportunity to open a dialogue about how different people experience hurtful labels. Emmie and Josephine and their daughter Georgina, the family I introduce in The Dark Prophecy, are for Jane.

I think about Amy, and Mark, and Nicholas … All former students who have come out as gay since I taught them in middle school. All have gone on to have successful careers and happy families. When I taught them, I knew they were different. Their struggles were greater, their perspectives more divergent than some of my other students. I tried to provide a safe space for them, to model respect, but in retrospect I don’t think I supported them as well as I could have, or reached out as much as they might have needed. I was too busy preparing lessons on Shakespeare or adjectives, and not focusing enough on my students’ emotional health. Adjectives were a lot easier for me to reconcile than feelings. Would they have felt comfortable coming out earlier than college or high school if they had found more support in middle school? Would they have wanted to? I don’t know. But I don’t think they felt it was a safe option, which leaves me thinking that I did not do enough for them at that critical middle school time. I do not want any kid to feel alone, invisible, misunderstood. Nico di Angelo is for Amy, and Mark and Nicholas.

I am trying to do more. Percy Jackson started as a way to empower kids, in particular my son, who had learning differences. As my platform grew, I felt obliged to use it to empower all kids who are struggling through middle school for whatever reason. I don’t always do enough. I don’t always get it right. Good intentions are wonderful things, but at the end of a manuscript, the text has to stand on its own. What I meant ceases to matter. Kids just see what I wrote. But I have to keep trying. My kids are counting on me.

So thank you, above all, to my former students who taught me. Alex Fierro is for you.

To you, I pledge myself to do better – to apologize when I screw up, to learn from my mistakes, to be there for LGBTQ youth and make sure they know that in my books, they are included. They matter. I am going to stop talking now, but I promise you I won’t stop listening.”

Following President Trump’s decision to remove national guidelines for schools to protect Trans students, an order put into place by President Obama, Philadelphia’s school district has announced there will be no changes to our city’s protections for Trans youth. We will continue to stand firm to assure that all students have access to to a safe learning environment. Philly resists!

That whole “Bitty never jokes about babysitting” thing absolutely killed me like, can you imagine little southern gay Eric R. Bittle who has internalized the idea that gay men can’t have kids, and even though he’s always wanted a whole mess of children, has just kind of resigned himself to being Uncle Eric to all his friend’s kids. And then one day while he’s in the kitchen baking, Jack comes in and sits down at the counter with a notebook and says, “Okay I know you said you don’t want me to even think about proposing until after you’ve graduated, but I’d really like to start thinking about the house we’re going to buy, so I can set aside some of my bonus for the downpayment”. And Bitty gets halfway through an internal ‘this boy’ when Jack keeps going, frowning down at his notebook. “It really depends on how many kids we want, I guess. For how much space we need.” 

And Jack’s sitting there with his serious face on, thinking about how they definitely have to make sure the backyard has enough room for a homemade rink, totally unaware that he has just murdered his boyfriend. 

why don’t we talk about muslim kids in hogwarts during ramadan? imagine waking up at 3 every morning and walking down for suhoor, to find the house elves have prepared a feast for them. imagine the kids having an extended curfew, so they can go and eat iftar at 10, where the house elves once again provide a ten course meal, topped with dates and traditional delicacies from around the world. imagine the kids being allowed to go into the kitchens in the middle of the night if they were still in the mood to eat. imagine the kids being allowed to leave class to do their prayers, and spending lunch times to read the quran. we need to talk more about muslim kids in hogwarts.

Hey children, Did You Know?
Representation isn’t exclusively important for the people being represented!!!
White kids need to watch POC being heroes too!!! It shows them that people can save the day regardless of their race!!!
Boys need to watch girls being strong and powerful!!!! It shows them that people deserve respect regardless of their gender!!!
Slim kids need to see confident and adored fat characters!!!! It shows them that everyone can be loved and love themselves regardless of their body types!!!!
Cishet kids need to watch queer kids falling in love (or just not falling in love!!!) and having happy endings!!! It shows that everyone is valid and everyone deserves to be happy regardless of sexuality or identity!!!!
Representation isn’t just for minorities, it’s important so that kids can learn that yes, they can be whoever they want to be and they deserve good things, but so do people who aren’t like them!!!!

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ACTUAL LONG-SUFFERING SINGLE DAD CHRISTOPHER PIKE

one of the beautiful things about this clip was the amount of respect these boys have toward sana, it’s something that you could just feel. it’s such a popular misconception people have, muslim and/or arab boys who completely disrespect girls, who think girls are inferior, not as worthy as them. people associate islam with sexism. but when sana’s brother at the end of the clip made a really clumsy and unintentionally offensive comment to his little sister, these boys were not having it, they immediately let their friend know that it was 100% wrong for him to say that, even as a joke, you don’t make that type of comment, these boys felt that it was wrong, they felt offended by elias’ comment 

these boys are the complete opposite of sexists. these boys are actually feminists. don’t you dare make a sexist comment in front of them, they’re not gonna let it slide

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Them boys and their girl~ *:・゚✧

Why Commenting On FanFiction Is Important

Alright kids, Boo here with a hopefully non-arrogant PSA.

I’m a writer of FanFiction because I like it and it’s my preferred genre (also a great way to receive feedback on writing that I can use on originals, bref). But like with most artistic work posted online, I have very little feedback.

When I was in a slightly writing rut, I cranked one shots left and right, nothing out of the ordinary. But instead of people commenting with their thoughts and good feedback, they just gave me requests.

I don’t think I could ever put into words what that felt like, but I’ll try (the irony of being a writer). It suddenly felt tiring, being a writer, and very quickly I stopped writing altogether. I only ever showed my friend what I wrote and left it at that. I haven’t published anything for a while after. It felt like people were treating me like a mule wanting me to do work for them, and I just wasn’t up for that. I lost my will to write, and then I began to think, “If I post something else other than what was requested, will people even read it?”

Then you get the infamous comments, “You haven’t forgotten about my request right??? Here’s another.”

That just adds anxiety and guilt. I’m purposely ignoring the comments to save my own uncreative ass, at least that’s what it feels like.

After weeks of convincing myself that my stories are worth sharing no matter how many people read them, I started writing and publishing again while working on some longer pieces. Slowly it got better.

Now this week, I remembered I joined another fanfiction platform, and realized I had never published anything on it. I had an idea, and so I started writing. It didn’t come out as I imagined it would, but I was so proud? Like, I started feeling happy about what I created again. Like genuine happiness that I haven’t felt in months since my last published work.

A few hours later, I get this comment:

I cranked out three 3k stories after reading this.

In four days.

It never happened before, and I don’t know how many times it will happen again. It was one comment, but it gave me so much fighting spirit that I think I’m on my way to regaining my initial writer mindset.

Fanfiction writers depend on feedback as a validation that their stories matter to people. If you’re wondering why your favourite author hasn’t updated/posted in a while, ask yourself, “Did I do everything that would convince them to continue writing this?”

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HP Challenge Day 5 - Favorite DA Member: Neville Longbottom

“”The odd thing is, Harry,’ [Dumbledore] said softly, ‘that [the prophecy] may not have meant you at all. Sybil’s prophecy could have applied to two wizard boys, born at the end of July that year, both of whom had parents in the Order of the Phoenix, both sets of parents having narrowly escaped Voldemort three times. One, of course was you. The other was Neville Longbottom.“”

Hey guys I normally don’t make posts like this but this is incredibly important.

Kevin, the little brother of one of my best friends, went missing last night.

I’m begging you all, if you’re ever going to reblog any of my posts, please reblog this one.

If you hear or see anything about him, please call 240-773-5400 and 301-279-8000.

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(Here have a silly comic sketch :U)

This is Pebble “No one messes with my krantt or I headbutt them” Ryder-Ama Darav.

Alternatively: Chapter Three of Why Evfra Thinks Ryder Should Watch Her Offspring Better

Bonus: