My first course at Athabasca was great! It did challenge me to think in new ways, but in another way it opened new vistas for me in thinking critically about what I learn. Plus, it made me think about where I want to go on this learning journey.
This term, it’s completely different. I am taking a course in multicultural counseling. And, since I am part of a privileged culture (white, Anglo-Saxon, and Protestant), of Loyalist descent, cisfemale, heterosexual, and steeped in Judeo-Christian values since birth, this is a difficult course for me because there is no way that I can fully relate to someone of another race, religion, or gender / sexual identity.
I am distinctly outside my comfort zone. I am hovering above myself, keenly aware that anything I say can be perceived in any number of ways, and I don’t want to offend anyone…. which, I guess, is as good a place as any to start.
I’ve spent the better part of the last four years or so coming to terms with the fact that one of my children is on the LGBTQIA spectrum (I had to learn what each of those letters stood for and why they are there, because I was – and still am to a great degree – so green to all of it). And for those who (like me) are still learning, the acronym above is for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Twin-spirited, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual. I am learning and understanding terms I never thought I would, like “cis” as a prefix for male or female (meaning a person identifies as the gender for which their body was born with the parts).
The knowledge that my daughter is on “the spectrum” was not nearly as scary for me as the fear I had that she would end up being bullied or ostracized for who she was… particularly by people very much like I once was. I have become extremely sensitized to the issue of accepting people for who they are instead of brandishing placards decrying it as “unnatural” or “a choice.” I hardly think that my little girl chose to be ON the spectrum, much less at the “A” end of the spectrum; she just never, EVER, had any interest in sex – or romance, for that matter. And truth be told, she has been instrumental in teaching me that someone is not less of a person because he or she is different.
Anyway, I am finding that I am treading a very fine line as I stick-handle my way through this class, mostly because I am so afraid of saying something unintentionally that would offend a classmate or the professor. However, I do think that this is a learning experience for me, so perhaps my fears are normal, my attitude is at least teachable, and I will do well.
Time will tell. Time will tell.