An Earthquake of Stunning Normalcy

Sometimes, signs of progress pop up in unexpected places. The Chicago Tribune this weekend ran a piece titled “Preschool FAQ,” by Heidi Stevens, who regularly writes on parenting for the Tribune. There’s nothing remotely LGBT-specific about it; it’s all about addressing questions that any parent, LGBT or not, might have if her or his child is starting preschool.

Why the mention here, then? Stevens quotes Brett Berk, author of “The Gay Uncle’s Guide to Parenting” and a former preschool director—but not about anything “gay.” The fact that Berk is gay is incidental to the article, but his parenting book is cited as any author’s would be in the same situation. Berk advises:

Watch out for bitter or burned-out teachers—ones who snap at or ridicule the kids, or just seem over the whole situation . . . But don’t be immediately scared by a teacher who appears disengaged. What looks like detachment in the face of chaos may represent the careful line-walking between exerting control and encouraging independence that is the hallmark of a great early childhood educator.

I think it’s a huge sign of progress that someone who is both openly gay and a parenting expert can be quoted in a mainstream article about parenting that has nothing to do with being LGBT. Not that he couldn’t or shouldn’t be quoted in an article about LGBT parenting, too, but that’s less of a revolution. Kudos to Stevens for recognizing that the commonalities of parenting (or “uncling”) extend across the boundaries of sexual orientation, but do not exclude being out and proud.