Girlfriends and girlfriends

Would you allow your teenage daughter to attend a sleepover hosted by her friend who recently self-identified as lesbian?

About a year ago I posted on that other blog about the girl-on-girl trend sweeping pop culture. My biggest concern then was the way this trend seems geared toward male gratification. And that still turns my stomach.

But today I’m thinking about a different facet of the problem: the confusion this trend has generated in relationships between young women. To quote myself:

I don’t think homosexuality should be demonized. But I don’t think it should be normalized. And I certainly don’t think it should be glamorized. I’m particularly concerned about the glamorization of lesbian sexual activity, because women’s sexual orientation has been shown to be much more fluid than men’s, which means women are more susceptible to sociocultural influence on their sexual behavior.

I don’t have my head in the sand about the reality of lesbian attraction. Some young women are going to feel significant, spontaneous sexual attraction to other women. But young women kissing each other simply because it’s cool? If they find themselves aroused–and some certainly will–that can add a whole lotta unnecessary complexity and confusion to a developmental process already fraught with difficulty and danger.

This complexity vividly came to mind yesterday when a friend told me about her 14-year-old daughter’s conundrum, and asked me the question I asked you at the beginning of the post. And now you may answer.

________________________

Girlfriends and girlfriends

Comments

  1. alextvalencic says:

    Yes, I would. Unless it was going to be just the two of them without parental supervision, in which case I would say no. But that would just be a general rule anyway: no parental supervision, no sleepovers.

    It would be a different matter if my teenage daughter’s friend had self-identified as a lesbian by telling my daughter that she was attracted to her. Then it’d be extremely uncomfortable.

    I remember when one of my best friends told me he was bisexual. I jokingly made a comment about not wanting him to hit on me. He said, in all seriousness, “Alex, we’ve known each other for over ten years. I don’t find you attractive.” I thought that was a good point. It involves a great deal of self-esteem to assume that everyone who is attracted to members of your sex is going to be attracted to you specifically.

  2. No. I wouldn’t let her sleep over with guys that weren’t attracted to her either.

  3. Around here, sleep-overs begin at age 8 and stop at age 14, so probably not an issue for us. But in case the issue arose…well, yes. Are they friends? Do they like and trust each other? Is there parental supervision? If the answer is yes to all of the above, I’m not sure it’s worth being concerned about.

  4. Steve Evans says:

    Leaving aside your quote — which I think is a troublesome quote, for a few reasons which I am sure were hashed out, amply, at T&S — I agree that sleepovers where there is a risk of sexual behavior is a bad idea. But unless your daughter is considering lesbianism, I don’t think that’s a risk. It takes two to tango, as the saying goes.

  5. I think sleepovers are sexually dangerous even when someone hasn’t identified as gay. If something weird sexually is going to go down in a kid’s life, it’s likely to happen at a sleepover. I used to think my wife was too strict for banning these (we allow only “late nights”), but then I starting ticking off all the weird stuff I saw happen or heard about happening on sleepovers when I was kid, including scout camps and cousin gatherings… There’s no such thing as constant “parental supervision” all through the night, remember. I’d like to see a scientific survey done on actual sleepover experiences; I bet the percent of nudity and/or groping would be pretty high.

  6. My problem here is that female sexuality is fluid (and my guess is that male sexuality is more than we choose to believe). My sister who is bisexual is insistent that sexuality is almost completely socialized. I believe her.

  7. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    T&S is indeed a place for ample hashing, Steve, but I don’t recall this quote being troublesome.

    I do remember YOU being troublesome.

  8. alextvalencic says:

    Chris (5): So did your wife also ban all scout camps, school functions, and family reunions? From the way you describe it, sounds like sleepovers are a breeding ground for homoerotic and incestuous behaviour.

  9. I agree with Chris Bigelow, since when do you have to be attracted or identify a certain way for sexual things to happen at sleep overs? and are the parents going to be staying up keeping watch? I’ve seen a lot working with troubled teens over the years. The parents were usually in the house, and asleep.

  10. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    But unless your daughter is considering lesbianism, I don’t think that’s a risk.

    My point is, the daughter might consider it based on her experiences with others who have.

  11. Steve Evans says:

    Lesbians aren’t vampires (except, I assume, some of the ones on True Blood). It’s not a contagion or something.

  12. We don’t allow sleepovers. At all. Period.

    I liked this article from LDS Times (don’t get smarmy now!)…I read it when I was a newlywed sans kids…and liked some of the ideas in it.

    http://www.ldslivingmagazine.com/articles/show/59

  13. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Steve, I’m not saying they are. I’m saying there’s a grey area between homosexual and heterosexual that most young woman fall within, and that their orientation is not necessarily static.

    Girls can and often are attracted to other girls–doesn’t mean they’re lesbian with a capital L. But it’s awfully confusing when the boundaries which use to exist for most teenage girls–i.e. there’s lots of emotional intimacy, and even physical cuddling, but we don’t kiss each other even if we might be curious–are gone.

  14. I’m split on this. I agree with Steve that sexual orientation is not contagious. Also, I do believe that human sexuality is more fluid for both men and women than many people are comfortable acknowledging.

    As far as sleepovers, all the rule-breaking I did as a kid had its nexus at sleepovers. It’s just a fact. It doesn’t make me in a hurry to let my kids venture out, but at the same time, I’m not sure banning them will really serve my ends.

    Like most things, education and parental involvement are the apparent answers. Ugh.

  15. Far and away the greatest danger to a young teen at a slumber party is being molested by a father, boyfriend, or older brother. The lesbian thing is barely a blip on the danger screen. (Unless, of course, you’re going to forbid her to go to parties where heterosexual couples will be making out in the corners, too).

  16. So is the concern that she might kiss another girl? Unless they are performing for boys (which is lame) I’m not sure that would really ruin her, or convince her to be a lesbian. Even if she did like it.

  17. I used to think that the idea that the normalization of homosexuality would lead to more experimenting to be exaggerated, since as it has been pointed it out, it is not a contagion, but reading this article awhile back definitely changed my mind:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/27/magazine/27out-t.html?_r=1&em

    So I agree that female sexuality is fluid and could be potentially influenced by one’s peers. But I would probably let my daughter go to the sleepover. It’s just one of those things she’ll have to learn to make her own choices on.

  18. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    I’m not sure that would really ruin her, or convince her to be a lesbian. Even if she did like it.

    I’m not sure of that, either. But I do think it’s a tricky situation for any young person, one that parents might want to help them avoid if possible.

  19. Would you allow your teenage daughter to attend a sleepover hosted by her friend who recently self-identified as lesbian?

    Yes.

  20. See, now this is exactly why I don’t plan on having children.

  21. Steve Evans says:

    I agree with Amri’s #16 except for the “lame” part.

  22. I am not sure I understand the “sexual orientation is not contagious” line of thinking as a reason to let the child sleep over. Drinking alcohol, doing drugs, looking at porn are not contagious either, but they are tempations nonetheless. And if the person who is inviting your child to sleep over is known to be involved in those things, are you going to want to let your child into that type of environment for a sleepover, where parental supervision is limited at best, even if the parents are in the home?

  23. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Rory, in the future, please limit the length of your comments.

  24. Steve Evans says:

    Clayton, just because a lesbian is sleeping in your house does not mean that the temptation for your daughter to sexually experiment will all of a sudden become unbearable, or even present at all for that matter. Your comparisons to alcohol, etc. are shockingly poor.

  25. The real question is whether the church should be able to tell businesses that they must hire your daughter’s lesbian friend, while refusing to hire her themselves. If only someone, somewhere, would blog about that issue.

  26. Kathryn #23

    Rory, in the future, please limit the length of your comments.

    ok

  27. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Steve, we’re not talking about “a lesbian sleeping in your house,” as in queer Aunt Dora sleeping in the guest room, sending waves of temptation through the walls to your daughter’s bedroom. We’re talking about spending a sizeable chunk of time in an emotionally intimate environment, unsupervised to some degree, with a peer who recently identified an attraction to young women (in this case, a mutual friend).

    Of course, doing so doesn’t doom anyone to anything. But I think it’s wise for my friend to consider the possibilities and shape her decision accordingly. Typical sleepover behavior can take on a whole new meaning in a situation like this, and as my friend has pointed out to her daughter, if she attends she will need to be sensitive to her friend and be careful not to send misleading messages (undressing in front of her, etc.)

  28. On the comparison to Boy Scout camps, I’d have to say that in my experience, the Scouts are in far greater danger from the scoutmasters than from fellow scouts. That and playing in the campfire.

    For my answer to the original question, it would depend on the girl doing the hosting. Do I know her? Have I met her parents? Has she been in my home before? Does she know what our family standards are, and is she willing to support those standards for my kid? If so, I’d probably allow it.

    Post-mission, I dated nothing but lesbians for a couple of years. I learned a lot, really enjoyed that Melissa Ethridge concert, and generally found that not all lesbians have the sex drives of teenage boys. Not all lesbians are attracted to all women.

    Post-college, when I was doing a major job search, I’d often spend the night (or a couple of nights) in the home of a single female friend. We’d been on a few dates through the years, and my mom thought the world of her, and didn’t have any qualms about me spending the night there. She was certainly one of the hottest friends I had (college homecoming queen, beauty pageant winner, and a muscle car to boot), but there wasn’t any chemistry there. She had a thing for bad boys, and I wasn’t her type. Even though we both had raging hormones, nothing was going to happen.

  29. I think it is probably unwise to allow sleepovers with either boy or girls that might be sexually attracted to a child (either boy or girl).

  30. Nope,

    No sleepovers with boys either.

  31. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Post-mission, I dated nothing but lesbians for a couple of years.

    Michael, I appreciate you sharing your perspective. But . . . wtf?

  32. What if the 14 year old girl was not so much a lesbian, but instead was a Cylon (like, during Season 3*, say)? If she professed loyalty to the Fleet and Admiral Adama, would you let your daughter sleep in her rack?

    *I haven’t seen Season 4, so no spoilers, please.

  33. Steve,

    Regardless of whether you think my comparisons are “shockingly poor” you still have not answered the question. Staying in the house is one thing, sleeping over is something entirely different.

    Does any teenager who invites you over for a sleepover and is actively involved in a same-sex relationship, consuming alcohol, doing drugs, involved with pornography, etc. help your teenage son or daughter to more easily live the gospel? If your answer is yes, then by all means, have your child sleep over. If not, how is this a “shockingly poor” comparison?

  34. I agree with Clyton.

    Teens are very influenced by peers. His reasoning and examples are very sound and backed up in the FSOY pamphlet.

  35. Ask how many of your daughters know Katy Perry’s song. My wife and I just chaperoned a dance at the junior high where she teaches, and the amount of girl on girl dancing surprised me. Not just group or pair dancing to the fast songs, which has always been around, but full clutch slow song dancing of the type you would not allow at a stake dance between a boy and a girl.

    It may be that female sexuality is more fluid, but the concern I have is that the consequences of experimenting girl on girl are not as catastrophic as experimenting with a boy. Curiosity + lack of accountability = DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!

    If it was a large number of girls, parent supervision was good, and only one lesbian girl, I’d probably think it less likely to be a problem. One on one? No way.

    It’s the old story of why you take two Mormons fishing. If you invite just one, he’ll drink all the beer.

  36. “It’s the old story of why you take two Mormons fishing. If you invite just one, he’ll drink all the beer.”

    I never really got that joke. I assume there’s some regional/temporal location where, in fact, the lone Mormon would drink all the beer.

    As for me, would I let my daughter sleep over at a lesbian friend’s? Not right now. Then again, she’s 4, so it’s not currently an issue–she’s not sleeping over, and there’s no sexuality one way or the other with her friends.

  37. living in zion says:

    The whole sleepover question makes me long for the “Country Time Lemonade” good old days. I slept over at girlfriends houses all the time growing up and it was fun. I let my kids go to friends houses, and I hosted my share of sleepovers. About 5 years ago, as my kids hit jr. high, I noticed a shift in the atmosphere. Suddenly parents weren’t allowing sleepovers and the YW program stopped doing them.
    Now I know why. How sad.

  38. “It takes two to tango”

    Untrue. I often tango by myself. All it takes is two agile feet and an ample amount of imagination.

  39. This is an example of why we simply have the policy of no sleepovers at people’s houses. Just makes it easier to avoid sticky situations or potentially bad situations, imo, rather than picking and choosing and having to explain it (“Well, we’ll let her go to their house for a sleepover, but yours? Sorry, nope.”)

    As to the potential confusion possible for young women, I experienced that as a teen when I found out my uncle was gay. I wondered for quite a while, since I didn’t like boys at the time, if I was, too.

    I know our kids will be more aware of peers who self-identify as homosexual than we were, and know that we can’t completely avoid such experiences (nor do I think burying their or our heads in the sand on this is good, either — I wish I had known as a youth that “sexuality” (I put that in quotes because I’m not sure all of the fluidity that we talk about is actually sexuality per se) can be somewhat fluid or along a spectrum of some sort). But I don’t think it’s wise to encourage or facilitate something like a sleepover where some of that could, er, ‘come out’ even more intensely. Sleepovers are known for deep talks and secret-sharing and sometimes unsupervised experimentation and trouble-making (or trouble-getting-into-ing).

  40. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    er, jimbob…

  41. Steve Evans says:

    Clayton, you’re being stupid but I’ll entertain you (before I ban you, anyways [EDITOR'S NOTE: Clayton wasn't banned]):

    Does any teenager who invites you over for a sleepover and is:

    1. actively involved in a same-sex relationship — this is not what the hypothetical talks about. It mentions someone who self-identifies as lesbian, not someone actively involved in any relationship. It’s this sort of casual, sloppy depiction of homosexuals that is repugnant. So far as I can tell, there is no sin in being attracted to the same sex! Or did the doctrine change? I can admit that I do not want someone to be actively involved in their same-sex relationship in front of my children.

    2. consuming alcohol — you mean, like 95% of nonmormons? Do you want a mormon-only sleepover rule?

    3. doing drugs — fine, you got me: my kids can only have friends over if their arms don’t show tracks from intravenous drug use.

    4. involved with pornography — see #2

    5. “etc.” — what does this mean, exactly? Murder? Rape? I assume you mean to imply some sort of steady moral decline in your comparisons. That same-sex attraction is like doing drugs is stupid enough, but now all you’re doing is being a homophobe.

    –help your teenage son or daughter to more easily live the gospel? Well gosh. It seems to me that lots of people help us live the gospel without being perfect.

    The aunt that smokes, the friend that might look at porn — we all have these people in our lives whether we want to admit it or not. What is shockingly poor is the assumption of nefarious intent on this hypothetical lesbian friend, coupled with a lack of confidence in our own kids to stand for their beliefs and act accordingly. You compare having a lesbian in your home to DOING DRUGS for crying out loud. That’s poor thinking that manifests little more than ignorance about homosexuality and a failure to think before commenting.

    Good-day, sir!

  42. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Steve, we’re all tiles in God’s mosaic.

  43. Are you seriously banning someone for disagreeing with you? That is extremely small-minded and you can ban me for saying so.

  44. Steve Evans says:

    Karen, I didn’t ban him yet! I should have made that more clear. Besides, if you think this is a matter of simple disagreement about whether I’d have this sleepover, you probably need to re-read things.

    (and yes, of course theoretically I can always ban you for saying so. That’s the best part about having admin powers on a website, dontcha know)

    Kathy, rimshot!

  45. We’ve never let our kids do sleepovers for the reasons Kristine (#15) stated. I think the Church has been wise to implement it’s two deep leadership program with the scouts. The no sleepover rule has been very useful, for while there are people I probably wouldn’t mind my kids staying with, it makes it nice when I really want to say no because I don’t know the parents well enough.

  46. Porter Rockwell says:

    Don’t sacrifice (even on a remote chance) your daughter’s innocence to the altar of political correctness.

    Don’t let her go just to prove you have nothing against homosexuals, as I believe is a core message of some of the posts.

    There is not really a chance this girl will “convert” her to her persuasion, but what if they just talk about it in pillow talk.. is that age appropriate? Again, why take the chance if it is easily avoided.

    don’t make a big deal of WHY, or make some statement, just come up with a semi-valid reason why it won’t work (come up with a family activity that will conflict) , or better yet, take this opportunity to establish a blanket rule, no sleepovers, boys, girls, LBGT, whatever.

    I have yet to meet a kid that doesn’t deserve to hear “no” once in a while. The art of saying no is in short supply with todays parents.

    Our girl’s High School Swim team has a tradition of a sleepover at the end of the year (our family is one of 3 member families in a 2000+ student High School) and we allow them to go, then pick them up at 11pm, just saying it is a family rule. No drama, no judging of others who stay. I might add 3 or 4 other (non-member) families do the same thing, as they don’t allow sleepovers either in their family.

  47. living in zion says:

    Steve,

    Yeech! Are you always this intense? I am feeling sorry for Clayton right now. Of course, I have a habit of voting for the underdog….

  48. I was not under the impression that it was a disagreement about the sleepover so much as it was about whether same-gender attraction is a behavior that young people may be tempted to emulate. While I don’t necessarily agree with his conclusion that it is, I think he was at least being polite about his statements. It just seemed like you were threatening banishment for personal reasons rather than keeping-the-conversation-relevant reasons.
    You do have power to banish at will, but I enjoy this blog because it encourages open dialogue from varying perspectives, thus helping us all to come to our own more informed conclusions. I hope that it will remain so.

  49. I just don’t know what to do with a day where KLS lets me down and Steve Evans makes sense.
    If I had a teenage daughter I would probably (wrongly) insist on her sleeping over, whether she wanted to or not, because if I can help turn her gay, I don’t have to worry about all those boy problems.
    Not really. Mostly. I think this question fails as a generalized rule but succeeds if we ask who this daughter is, who this friend is.
    I am a secular, queer woman but if I had a teenage daughter who was insecure and prone to people-pleasing behavior who was friends with another young woman who seemed to have the sense of a billy goat, I would say no to a sleepover. Also if my hypothetical daughter had rock solid confidence and a suspicion she might be gay and her friend was of the same mind, I’d say no. I’m her mom- it’s not my job to facilitate her hook-ups. That’s what college is for. However, if my daughter was straight, confident, showed good judgement and wanted to spend the night at her nice, lesbian friends house, I hope I’d say, “don’t forget to bring cookies, she’s probably feeling in need of a good cookie right now.”
    I think it’s sad to confuse real gay people with people who are exploiting gayness for financial gain. I also think that the harm that is done when we seek to judge gay people as abnormal, is greater than the harm done by those lyrics.

  50. Steve Evans says:

    living in zion:

    A confession: mostly I’m just bored. I think having a no-sleepover rule is probably just fine, in reality; indeed, I’m as overprotective as the next parent and I would have misgivings about ANY sleepover, let alone with kids whose lifestyles I wouldn’t want my own to emulate.

    So why the vitriol and anger? It has little or nothing to do with Clayton’s conclusions — in all likelihood we’re not all that far apart. It has everything to do, however, with how issues are framed and the type of thinking we’re using to evaluate situations such as these. Failing to understand the moral implications of our words leads us to dark paths. The heat of my reply is not really because I’m angry (I’m not); it’s meant as an indication of how harmful I think approaches such as Clayton’s really are. Talking about homosexuality in simplistic terms like drug abuse or pornography use is more than just inaccurate or unhelpful; it’s pernicious and leads us to intolerance and cheap hatred of the Other.

    If having a homosexual friend sleeping in your home bothers you, we have to do a better job of understanding — and articulating — precisely why that is the case. If all we can do is make sloppy comparisons, I don’t think we understand ourselves very well, and I don’t think we’re doing our kids any favors with explanations such as these. And so, I treat it like swine flu, with harsh quarantines. That’s not great for conversation, but I don’t want anyone to get the impression that it’s OK to not think things through.

  51. Karen, fear not. While Steve carries a bannination stick, we all value the open discourse and dialog BCC fosters. Both are necessary for there to be balance int he Force.

  52. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    I can argue the general sleepover rule either way. It’s a moot point for my friend and her daughter–sleepovers are allowed.

    And the mom’s paradigm for relating to her daughter doesn’t have room for cover stories, as well-intentioned as they may be. This friend is part of her daughter’s life, sleepover or not, and skirting the issue doesn’t do anyone any good. Rather, she’s speaking frankly with her daughter about the complexities of the situation.

  53. “she’s speaking frankly with her daughter about the complexities of the situation.”

    Precisely what I was going to recommend. Whether the sleepover happens or not seems of slight importance compared with the messages the daughter gets about her friend and her sexuality. Careful, open dialogue is required here, not obfuscation and paranoia.

  54. Kathryn,
    What would you do?

  55. I agree with Steve Evans, that we should all try to take the time to understand people before making rash, generalizing statements about them.

    Except for Clayton.

  56. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    cwc, I’m sad I let you down! Hopefully some clarification will ameliorate that somewhat.

    I think this question fails as a generalized rule but succeeds if we ask who this daughter is, who this friend is.

    Yes, and yes. My reactions to your hypotheticals are similar to yours.

    I think it’s sad to confuse real gay people with people who are exploiting gayness for financial gain.

    Indeed. That is one reason why I hate the song referenced in the year-old post.

    I also think that the harm that is done when we seek to judge gay people as abnormal, is greater than the harm done by those lyrics.

    You’ve got me there–I did say “I don’t believe homosexuality should be normalized.” A statement that doesn’t make sense given the fact that I’m arguing that some degree of same-sex attraction, whether realized or latent, is a normal fact of life for many women. Poor wording on my part.

  57. When Steve wields his stick and you agree with him, you love him. But when he turns his stick on you, you realize how much it stings.

    Steve, I very much understand why you feel the need to point out the weaknesses of others’ arguements, but I’ve never understood why you feel the need to be so cutting when you do so. It is possible to make your case without belitting the other person. People are not generally ignorant because they are bad people, but because they’ve simply not had the experiences or done the research that you have to change their minds. After all we need to have tolerance and charity for all the “others,” both homosexuals and people who disagree with us.

    I say this as someone who doesn’t comment much but reads this blog frequently, and who when I did comment, got such a cutting response from you that I honestly felt hurt whenever I thought about it for weeks afterward. You probably don’t think about it much, but there are real people behind these comments. And you were actually right about what you said in the end, but it really hurt that someone could be that insensitive and not stop to think about that person’s perspective. That is all.

  58. Stuff happens at sleepovers. Stuff happens during the middle of the afternoon, too. Hopefully if our kids know that they can and should leave a situation where things feel uncomfortable then we can trust them to decide for themselves what to do. (No, I don’t have teenagers yet)

  59. I think crazywomancreek has it exactly right with her hypothetical daughters. :) I was a girl’s camp leader one year and we had a really bad situation happen where two older girls molested some of the younger girls. However, one of the older girls came from a very troubled home and would act out in any way she could think of. The other girl was in counseling because of her same-sex attractions and was on Zoloft which she stopped taking as soon as she got there. I felt so bad for her because she was obviously struggling a lot with self-esteem and an identity crisis and needed much more support than she was getting and allowed herself to be influenced by this other girl. She ended up in a terrible situation that could have been avoided. It was absolutely not because she was attracted to girls that this happened, but because she was in such a fragile state. So yeah, it totally depends on the girls and where they are mentally and emotionally. On both sides.

  60. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    mmiles, it would depend on the situation. I would weigh potential risks and benefits specific to this interaction–I can imagine scenarios in which I’d say yes, and scenarios in which I’d say no. In either case I’d have a candid conversation with my daughter about my multi-faceted concerns, which among the more obvious things would also include concerns regarding the messages I send to my daughter about herself and her friend and people with SSA in general. I know that sounds like a wimpy answer, but there you have it.

  61. Steve Evans says:

    Sorry Katie.

  62. Not wimpy at all.

  63. I got myself into all kinds of sexual hanky panky at sleepovers with girl cousins and girls in my local ward. There is just a temptation there when you reach a certain age and curiosity takes over when it’s dark and there are no parents around. Usually this happens as part of a “game” of some sort. I also had a girlfriend in high school come on to me at a sleepover. Her dad was a professor at BYU and they thought we were the sweetest most innocent mormon teens on the planet.

    I am heterosexual with 3 children and happily married for a long time now –

    Female sexuality is very fluid in my opinion and much more libido exists in young girls than some seem to realize.

    So as to the sleep-over question – I think it depends on how much risk you want to take of exposing a child to such things, regardless of whether they are at the house of a hetero girl or homosexual/bi girl.

    Having said that I still allow sleepovers for my children on occasion – it just depends on many factors I have to take into account. In my estimation the more children there are at the sleepover the less likely intimacy is going to be involved. All my shenanigans happened when there were only 2 of us – once when there were 3.

  64. You have 100% uncertainty over the sexuality of other people, unless they have told you truthfully what their orientation is. Some of your child’s seemingly hetero friends are actually closeted homosexuals, or at least folks with a high amount of uncertainty themselves.

    Given that, if you are A-OK with sending your child into a sleepover, completely unaware of whether or not there is a vampire lesbian just waiting to pounce on them, why is it that _more, clearer_ information about one of them is a _bad_ thing?

    If I were one of those who allowed sleep overs in the first place, I would welcome the information and use it as a chance to talk with my child, and her friend about expectations of behavior–which involve no-touchy-no-matter-what-or-who-you-are-attracted-to-until-you’re-24–and to encourage communication between themselves to further clarify their differing standards, opinions, beliefs, so that there is no ambiguity about their respective expectations.

  65. 56 Thanks, it does.

    57 Whoa there. I hope you aren’t inferring that I “love” Steve Evans. The man is, by his own admission, a Canadian.
    Don’t believe me? Look it up. I love no Canuck.

  66. I wish I knew how to quit you!

  67. Oh no, CWC, I wasn’t referring to you specifically-it was a collective “you.” Or even me-I can’t help feeling delighted when Steve rips some ignoramus to bits. Unfortunately, I am sometimes the ignoramus. Truly-I can admit that.

  68. Latter-day Guy says:

    I was not under the impression that it was a disagreement about the sleepover so much as it was about whether same-gender attraction is a behavior that young people may be tempted to emulate.

    I know this runs the risk of being nit-picking, but for the sake of clarity I would like to suggest that “same-gender attraction” is not “a behavior.” Hunger isn’t a behavior either; eating is.

  69. Right on, Scott (except, of course, I actually prefer vampire lesbians to the regular kind—they have better fashion sense).

  70. LdG, just for the sake of clarity, is drooling a behavior? How about staring longingly? Lingering? Smelling? Sneaking a little taste when no one is looking?

    I’m just wondering because Thanksgiving is coming up and I do all of those things while my wife is cooking dinner.

  71. “The man is, by his own admission, a Canadian.”

    You might want to check the label, cwc, he’s been natualized. Does that mean you dig him now?

  72. I see very little difference between this and a sleepover with a boy. And this has nothing to do with potential experimentation nor whether or not the lesbian is attracted to my daughter, it has everything to do with the dynamic of the situation. It’s funny, I’ve always said that if I were a girl I’d be a lesbian and this conversation shines the light on exactly why: they get to have their cake and eat it too. Ask any boy what he’d do if he had the power of invisibility and the first thing he’ll think about is going into a girls locker room. Lesbians get to do it in broad daylight. As a 14-year old boy I would have jumped at the chance to participate in a sleepover with a bunch of girls. And I wouldn’t want my daughter at a sleepover with my 14-year old self there enjoying the scenery.

    In other words, when I was 14 I was a lesbian.

  73. Steve Evans says:

    Sighhhhhhhh Rusty…

  74. Latter-day Guy says:

    MCQ: Yes (though it might be involuntary); yes; yes; yes (though “smelling” can mean different things); and yes.

  75. Steve, don’t be upset. Coming out of the closet is difficult for everyone, Rusty included. This is a time for understanding and kindness.

  76. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Katie M. (#17): WOW–that NYT article is really something.

  77. “I know this runs the risk of being nit-picking, but for the sake of clarity I would like to suggest that “same-gender attraction” is not “a behavior.” Hunger isn’t a behavior either; eating is.”

    Yes. Sorry. That is what I was trying to get at but didn’t know how to say. Clayton was coming from the perspective of lesbian behavior and Steve from the perspective of lesbian identity. At least as far as I could tell.

    Also, I just reread my previous comment (#58) and was embarrassed by my naivete. Of course it depends on the emotional maturity of both girls in the situation. This is kind of making me want to disallow sleepovers at all for my kids.

  78. In Michael’s defense, he didn’t knowingly start dating a lesbian. It took him a while to figure it out. The fact that she started bringing her girlfriend along helped. It’s also why he claims to have dated multiple lesbians. After he figured things out (which didn’t take two years), the so-called dates were obviously just friends spending time together. I met both girls after Michael and I started dating, and I liked them both. Just not in that way.

  79. Wow, Steve. What a response.

    I think that before you accuse me of being ignorant and not thinking before I post, you should look in the mirror first.

  80. Clayton,
    You had earned a lot of sympathy from others, and you just destroyed it all.

  81. I’m really looking forward to Rusty’s memoir, “I Was a Teenage Lesbian.” Dibs on reviewing it for Kulturblog.

  82. Word.

  83. Dang, the “Word” was for Scott B. But I guess I am also looking forward to Rusty’s memoir.

  84. Kathryn Lynard Soper
    >Michael, I appreciate you sharing your perspective. But . . . wtf?

    Oh, easy answer. Post-mission, I got dumped and badly. I dealt with it by working 40 hours a week, taking 22 credits, volunteering another 20 hours a week, and decided it would be best if I swore off heterosexual Mormon chicks, since there were all crazy anyway. I ended up spending a lot of time with an LDS girl from a badly dysfunctional home. She’d been sexually abused by an uncle (and stake high counselor) at a young age. She scored major points with her mom by hanging out with an RM, I didn’t pressure her into anything romantic, and since I knew it wasn’t going anywhere, I learned how to treat her like a friend instead of a potential eternal partner. After a couple of years, by the time I met the young lady who is now my wife and mother to my kid, I was better able to handle things.

    As for that first young lady I dated/hung out with, I’d hope that she was able to learn that not all active LDS guys were psycho molesters. She ended up serving as the nursery leader in her ward, and you’ll never find anyone more fiercely protective of toddlers. Her goal was to make sure each child in nursery knew that Sister J and Jesus love them, no matter what.

    I also learned that behind just about every sad story of same-sex attraction, there’s a horrific tale of abuse.

  85. “I also learned that behind just about every sad story of same-sex attraction, there’s a horrific tale of abuse.”

    While larger than average, I believe your sample size is FAR too small to make such a sweeping assertion. There are vast amounts of appropriately gathered data that suggest otherwise.

  86. Ms. Soper @ 40: Sometimes a dance is just a dance. And, of course, sometimes it’s a euphemism for something else entirely, but I do not possess the subtlety for such innuendo.

  87. “I also learned that behind just about every sad story of same-sex attraction, there’s a horrific tale of abuse.”

    Based on what, your one friend? Totally not true, dude. Just completely ignorant and wrong.

  88. Seriously, Clayton? That’s the response you’re going with? I’m rubber and you’re glue, baby.

    I’ve been doing this for a long time (yes, longer than you, though you are of 2006 vintage). I get tired of having to explain the importance of a reasoned and reasonable approach to things, and use volume as a shortcut (because my position here permits me to do so). After my harsh reply, I didn’t really expect you to engage on any of the points I brought up, even after my subsequent mellowing response. So, your reply is both entirely anticipated and entirely disappointing.

    Why do I bother, folks? (sheds Glenn Beck tears)

  89. I don’t quite see what’s so bad about what Clayton said; I see in Steve’s later posts what he’s referring to, but it seems to me more a fairly minor instance of poor choice of words than anything (that said, I can certainly be one to damn someone based on a poor choice of words, if it happens to be the right poor choice of words), I think what Clayton is actually trying to say is incredibly valid, whether I agree with it or not. We shouldn’t judge and discriminate and segregate based on sexual orientation–but, then again, I know I would be wary if it were my daughter. I don’t think Clayton’s comparisons are without value–I’d be wary about my child going to a party with alcohol simply because a temptation and a potential for peer pressure would exist there that wouldn’t exist at a party without alcohol. Likewise, a sleepover with a girl who may possibly be sexually attracted to your daughter is a situation in which sexual activity is probably more likely to occur than a sleepover with someone who probably isn’t. And, as has been pointed out, sleepovers are already all about sharing secrets, emotional intimacy, and being silly trying new things. That’s not the greatest combination when you throw potential sexual attraction into the mix. Enough stuff goes on at sleepovers between girls (and guys) who would never think of themselves as gay.

    I think Kathryn’s article is terrific simply because I don’t think there is one definitive answer to this dilemma. It does indeed depend on the people involved and the situation and the family. I’m not sure I like the idea suggested of making up some family activity as an excuse–that feels a bit dishonest to me. I think open and honest dialogue is probably the most ideal response, but there are probably situations where a different course of action might seem better. Great article, and interesting discussion.

  90. I’d be wary about my child going to a party with alcohol simply because a temptation and a potential for peer pressure would exist there that wouldn’t exist at a party without alcohol

    .
    Davey, you’re making the wrong analogy. I think the logically consistent analogy–and the one Steve is justifiably decrying–is one in which you refuse to attend with someone who has a taste for alcohol–regardless of whether there is any alcohol on the premises. The bigger point, though, is that there must be a healthier, more intelligent way of discussing these issues without breaking them down into cheap, imperfect proxies (drugs, alcohol, porn…)

  91. Scotty, I don’t think that analogy works either. My point is that analogizing same-sex behavior here is just not the way to go at all.

  92. Steve, that’s what I said–that Davey’s not logically consistent with himself, and even if he tries to be consistent, we’re just left with “cheap, imperfect proxies.”

  93. Ah yes, see I skipped the sentence that started with “the bigger point.” I figured you were just bluffing with that.

  94. It would depend on the situation. If I liked my daughter’s friend as a person, had met and liked her parents and felt my daughter was in an otherwise safe environment when she was there, the lesbian thing would not bother me. It’s important to raise children to be tolerant and non-judgmental to all people. Just because her friend thinks she’s a lesbian does not make her a bad person or a bad friend for my daughter. That would be the least of my worries.

  95. #8: No, we still let our kids do scout camps, school functions, and family reunions, just not friend sleepovers (including fellow Mormons).

    I don’t know about “breeding ground” but certainly a higher percentage than should be tolerated, and it’s probably creeping higher rather than lower as our society continues to morally devolve. Many of the seeds planted in kids’ heads by the media and society come into full blossom in the middle of the night at sleepovers, in my opinion.

    Oh, and homo experimentation is definitely socially contagious. Most people who try it won’t stick with it as an adult lifestyle choice, but a certain percentage will. Similar to how a certain percentage of people (about 15%, I understand) who start using alcohol will turn into alcoholics, for whom the vice comes to define their life and their identity.

  96. Latter-day Guy says:

    “Oh, and homo experimentation is definitely socially contagious. Most people who try it won’t stick with it as an adult lifestyle choice, but a certain percentage will.”

    Do you mean that the experimentation makes them gay?

  97. Chris, are you gay?

  98. It is possible that if Chris Bigelow had represented himself as a poster child for “homo experimentation,” I could have been saved. Cuz man that sounds unsavory.

  99. I would let her sleep over, unless everyone else who was going to be there was also a lesbian, including your daughter.

    I think an all-girl sleepover, even one with a lesbian at it, is quite different from a co-ed sleepover. I would be not permit the latter in a thousand years (except among the under-6 set), but the former doesn’t particularly trouble me.

    If the lesbian is already your daughter’s friend, your daughter’s curiosity vis a vis lesbianism has probably already been piqued to the extent that it’s going to be–or it will be soon enough, with or without the sleepover. And as others have pointed out, naughty things tend to happen at sleepovers with or without lesbians, so I wouldn’t consider the lesbian to be the deciding factor in whether or not a sleepover is appropriate (unless, of course, you know something else about this lesbian that gives you pause).

    Because homosexuality is becoming more socially acceptable, children are going to become aware of it at earlier ages. The important thing is to have a good enough relationship with your child so that you can talk about these things openly (and with appropriate frankness). I don’t think the sleepover is particularly dangerous. The issues that you’re concerned with are destined to arise anyway if this is your daughter’s friend.

  100. In Canada, whole milk is commonly referred to as “Homogenized” or just “Homo” for short. Perhaps some of us should try some homo experimentation, if only to build strong bones.

  101. gst? Are you out there? I think we need a thread closed.

  102. I have been convinced. I will not allow my daughter go to attend any sleepovers at Katy Perry’s house.

  103. Gah, double verb. That’s what I get receive for revising editing my comment.

  104. CWC, the bad thing about allowing straight people into your house is that they tend to steal your car seats.

  105. MikeInWeHo says:

    I am thoroughly creeped out after reading 103 comments.

  106. We’re in the camp of no sleepovers unless it’s at Grandma’s house. There are just too many things that can go wrong, and this is one of dozens.

  107. Okay, let’s offer some helpful suggestions.

    You could have her “count coup” like the old Apache warriors, seeing how close to The Lesbian she could get without becoming a lesbian herself. If she could touch The Lesbian in combat, she would be counted a mighty warrior indeed.

    Or you could go further and follow the lead of Gandhi, who (in)famously slept nude with a variety of young women, in order to build up his willpower and self-control. Encourage your daughter to hop into bed naked with The Lesbian, and thus build up her own straightness by resisting her Lesbianality.

    (Yech. It was a creepy idea from the get-go, Nobel prize be damned.)

    Or, we could stop playing “don’t feed the scary lesbians” and start viewing Lesbians as people, like anyone else. (If it helps, you can still think of them as “kind of scary people.”)

  108. We’re in the no-sleepover camp, unless it’s a Church-sponsored activity (i.e., a camp). We’ll permit a “lateover”, where they come home at midnight or 1am.

  109. MikeinWeHo, yeah, a little depressing. Just makin’ sure you know that just because the church can support a non-discrimination ordinance in SLC, we haven’t gone and gotten all soft and tolerant or educated or anything like thati…

  110. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    I would have to personally know the kid, the parent, and an idea of the number of invitees. Any sleepover with only one invitee is probably higher risk. We made a mistake in allowing our daughter to invite any two girls from her class (no parental pre-screening) to go with her and my wife to the Hannah Montana movie. (They were first graders). I guess my daughter kind of thinks the ADD children of parents with poor parenting skills make good playmates because it was a wild evening.

    I kinda like the suggestion of ending sleepovers at the age of 14. I remember that some of my male peers at LDS scout overnighters engaged in strip games in their tents. As far as I know, they are all married so it didn’t mean that they were gay. Nevertheless, I’m sure the parents would never have suspected those good LDS boys under the watchful eyes of their competent leaders could desire or get away with such things. Oh, and there was the boy that brought a can of Skoal to an LDS scout overnighter, but he got caught!

  111. “I guess my daughter kind of thinks the ADD children of parents with poor parenting skills make good playmates because it was a wild evening.”

    Hey, this is only a thread in which to say ignorant and unkind things about gays. We’ll have another thread next week for sharing your unrighteous judgments of other people’s parenting skills based on a single evening with their children. OK?

  112. Let’s reimagine the original scenario. Your daughter has just had the courage to come out to you and a few of her friends. She is frightened, terrified that she’ll be ostracized, treated as a leper by her Mormon community. She is likely to be depressed, even suicidal. A couple of weeks later, it’s her birthday. She wants to have a sleepover like any other kid, like she did when she was younger, before this unwished-for coming-of-age. As her parent, you’re worried for her, but you send out the invitations, trusting that your friends, your Relief Society sisters, will take the opportunity to teach their daughters about real charity and compassion, about some of the complicated permutations of human sexuality.

    And look what happens instead.

    Comments are closed for now.

  113. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Post-game show:

    I wasn’t surprised to see this thread closed when I came back to it last night. I’d asked the admins to moderate in my absence, and Kristine did the right thing.

    I need to point out that the scenario in #112 is very different from the scenario my friend described (the young woman with SSA is not LDS, not frightened, not ostracized, not suicidal. In fact, she’s giddy in love.)

    But Kristine’s scenario does reflect the reality of another mother and teenager I know–and it is heartbreaking.

    This was a difficult thread, both troubling and (for some at least) enlightening. I can understand why some of my fellow bloggers had a visceral reaction to some of the views expressed here. It’s wrong to present gay people as predatory, and homosexuality with a capital H as contagious. It’s problematic to compare SSA to alcoholism. Although I thought some of the heated responses were counterproductive to useful discussion, I believe they are justified.

    Since the thread closed, friends have pointed out to me that confrontation and challenge–even vehement challenge–can be useful in conversations like these. Perhaps even more useful than moderate voices. Of course, if that’s indeed true, then strong responses should be fair game for participants on both sides of the issue.

    Regarding the OP, I maintain that there’s good cause for my friend to carefully consider the possibilities regarding this sleepover, for her daughter’s sake. It’s not a simple thing for a teenager when two of your friends, both girls, are in love. It’s not a simple thing to attend an overnight party with them. At the same time, overprotection can backfire. And just as importantly, my friend’s daughter is not the only vulnerable teenager in the equation. Yes, parents have particular responsibility for their children, but we are all each others’ keepers.

    In short: saying yes to the sleepover doesn’t mean my friend is sacrificing her daughter on a PC altar. Saying no doesn’t mean she’s a homophobe. I wish as LDS we could transcend such polarized discussions. I admit this thread doesn’t give me a lot of hope, but I’ve received some encouraging emails which prove that some good does come out of these exchanges. So maybe, sometime, I’ll try again.

    And now the thread is permanently closed.

  114. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Just kidding.

    Although late to the party, Samantha’s words deserve an audience. Thanks, Samantha!

    ____________________________

    I got to this post too late to comment, but thought I’d add a bit of information. I am a lesbian (I know all that crap about not giving myself a label and using the term SGA or whatever that the church recommends, but as I’m the one who likes girls, I’m choosing what I’ll call myself, and I also use the term “gay” occasionally). I was aware of my attraction to girls by the time I was twelve. I attended multiple slumber parties and also went on overnight school trips most weekends when school was in session because I was part of competitive teams. I never approached another young woman sexually, and I was often sharing showers or beds with them. This had nothing to do with whether or not I was aroused or attracted, and everything to do with the fact that I knew what could happen when people don’t respect the sexual boundaries of others, when those are unclear, or when they do not exist, because I was raped multiple times by an older teen when I was not quite twelve.

    Not all young women have this awareness and we live in a world where experimentation is glamorized and encouraged. And while I don’t believe one can switch teams (regardless of what is said about female sexual fluidity), I also don’t believe such experimentation is emotionally healthy or safe. My fourteen-year-old daughter is allowed to sleep over at friends’ houses occasionally, but only when I know who will attend and I know the girls and their parents, personally. We’ve had frank discussions about appropriate and inappropriate behaviors. I would trust her at a slumber party at which a lesbian attended (remember, I was once the lesbian at the slumber party), if I knew the young woman in question and believed she would respect my daughter’s boundaries. I would treat this as any other slumber party invitation, because quite frankly, there is probably often a young woman attracted to other young women at a slumber party. And I don’t equate it with sleeping with boys. Girls (even lesbian ones) have different relationships with other girls than those they have with boys, and need the community and intimacy offered by friendships with young women. Isolating or excluding a lesbian because of her attractions will only add to the problems she’s going through as she tries to figure out who she is and where she fits in society.

    Because this is becoming far too long for a comment (especially for a post for which the comments have been closed), I would just add that while I understand making the sexual orientation of slumber party attendees a point of consideration, I would hope it would not be a deciding factor. Indeed, I would hope it might become an opportunity to get to know the self-identified lesbian, look into her eyes, and see her for the young woman she is. Once that has been done, the slumber party decision, regardless of whether it’s yes or no, will have a great deal more credence than it might otherwise.

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