Mr Turnbull, why are you making me explain homophobia to my kids?

 

“Mum, can men marry men yet?” my five-year-old son asked me yesterday.

I sighed. “Not yet. Not in Australia. But soon. I hope.”

About a year ago, my kids and I were guests at the wedding of two women at the British Consulate in Sydney. Filled with joy at their joy, I told my son that it would probably be only a matter of months before women could marry women and men could marry men, everywhere in Australia.

Okay, so I was overly optimistic. It hasn’t happened, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime soon, even though at least 70 per cent of Australians support it.

My son is starting to want to know why. Why can’t men marry men?

My kids have relatives who are gay. They spend time with our friends who are gay. They go to school with kids who have same-sex parents.

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I mean, this is Australia. This is 2016. Out here in suburbia, gay couples are getting on with living their lives and bringing up families.

It’s just that the Australian government is making it really obvious they think these relationships aren’t equal to heterosexual relationships.

Just out there, living their lives, bringing up kids. Photo via iStock.

So, Prime Minister Turnbull, what answer do I give to my son when he asks why men can't marry men? Because some people think it's wrong for men to love men, or women to love women? And why is that, exactly?

I don't want to explain homophobia to a five-year-old, and I shouldn't have to. It's awkward and horrible. I don't want to put those kind of thoughts in his head.

Sadly, over the past week, the word "homophobia" has been getting a lot of use in the media.

It's time for marriage equality. We love this moving video from Get Up. Post continues after video...

At the urging of Liberal backbenchers like Cory Bernardi, Turnbull has ordered an "investigation" into the Safe Schools Coalition. This is a program aimed at stopping the bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex kids at school. Research has shown that three-quarters of these kids experience physical or verbal homophobic bullying, and they're up to six times more likely to attempt suicide or self-harm.

The program has the backing of beyondblue, the Australian Secondary Principals Association and the Australian Education Union. But Bernardi thinks it's "indoctrinating" kids and wants to shut it down.

Schoolkids are frequently bullied over their sexuality, and the results can be tragic. Photo via iStock.

As a parent, I find it really offensive that a small group of people who are clinging to attitudes from the 1950s could have such a big influence on the lives of schoolkids in 2016. It's the same conservative minority who are fighting so hard against marriage equality.

We know that most Australians support same-sex marriage. I think it's probably fair enough to assume that most parents wouldn't want kids to be bullied at school over their sexuality.

We need to think about the kind of Australia we want our children to grow up in.

"Of course men can marry men," I want to be able to tell my son. "When you grow up, you can marry whoever you love."

What do you tell your kids about marriage equality?

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