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Oddly Normal

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John Schwartz's book Oddly Normal has just been released. The book, written with his son's help, details the travails of raising his third son who happens to be gay. The book is really about how we treat the different among us and in particular how the school system treats different children. Coming out is only one problem Schwartz's son, Joe, confronts. The story of how parents navigate a system intent on diagnosing and usually medicating every difference brought me to thinking about the uncertainties of deciding when our children should be medicated and when they should not. What degree of difference is pathological? Fortunately, no one suggests that the boy's emerging sexuality is a pathology. The diagnostic issues have more to do with the autism spectrum.

The book is a nice read, and the last chapter is charming.

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Yes, what was remarkable about this story is that the parents realized their son was gay even when he was 3 or 4 years old. There are clearly some kids that just pop out of the womb 100% gay, which gives good credence to the theory that there could well be a "gay gene" that makes people gay. Good or bad, it's how we're born -- for some of us.

There's a nice write-up of the book over on Slate's website:


What is sobering is that even though the parents accepted the kid 100%, he still attempted suicide at the age of 13 because of bullying at school. The good news is: the boy wasn't successful, and eventually recovered and is OK today. But it's still sobering that it's not just the parents who have to go through the trauma of a child coming out; it's also what he or she has to go through in their daily lives.

My take is, it's tough to just be a normal straight kid growing up today. Growing up gay has got to be twice as much of a struggle, despite the inroads and small victories we have every day.

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