1. Nancy G says

    This has finally prompted me to come out of lurkdom. I’m a middle school teacher in another homophobic small town. Last week, one of my previous students attempted suicide, a year after coming out to family and friends. He’s only 13, and I can only imagine what the rest of his adolescence will be like.

    It’s difficult raising kids in such an environment, regardless of their orientation. My own three managed to escape relatively intact – perhaps such experiences become a crucible that enhances their innate strengths.

    Reading your blog is a daily ritual for me. I thank you for your ability to explain the research, your humor, and even your anger. (sometimes I wince at your more energetic rants, but it’s that wince from being poked in the eye with the truth) But most of all, I thank you for your daughter. She’s amazing.

  2. Diego says

    My sister had a similar experience. As a librarian in Tampa she had set up a display of books written for young adults and dealing with homosexual issues. Complaints were made, the display came down, and the wingnut county commissioners passed ordinances banning such “offensive” displays in the future. Local civil liberties groups got involved and before she knew it my sister had a lot more fame than she ever wanted. She is still a minor celebrity in the librarian community.

  3. MNObserver says

    The big difference between Morris and many other places in the country is that in Morris – like in all of Minnesota – sexual preference discrimination is illegal. Homosexuality is as protected a classification as race, gender or religious belief, and the administration ought to know it. “Kill the fags” ought to be viewed as hostile an environment as one where “Kill the Jews” or “Kill the Christians” would be. Further, those who object to such illegal discrimination are protected by statute from reprisals when they come forward.

    Good for her and good for you for sticking up for her! When does she start law school? ;)

  4. Steve LaBonne says

    She might be amazing, but you can’t even imagine how hard it is to get her to do the dishes and clean her room.

    Oh yes I can. I have one of those at home.

  5. says

    Shirking household chores aside, you should be very, very proud of her. Most adults I know aren’t that thoughtful.

    (and if you figure how to get her to do the cleaning stuff, I’d like to know how)

  6. DominEditrix says

    You might mention to her that her statement “this is the internet and his words aren’t copyrighted” is incorrect. However, quoting someone when refuting a position [or, indeed, agreeing with it] is “fair use”.

    Other than that, I admire your kid’s thought processes, ability to use the English language correctly and position on civil right for all.

    [And no teenager ever cleans its room or does the dishes unless prodded. It’s something to do with all those raging hormones. Or so they would have one believe.]

  7. says

    Your kid’s awesome. If I ever spawn, I hope my offspring are as cool. ‘Til then, I’ll have to satisfy myself with warping the minds of my nieces and nephews instead.

  8. Theo Bromine says

    Skatje has obvioulsy been raised in an environment where justice, compassion, challenging authority, and critical thinking are valued, taught and encouraged. The down side of that sort of thing (at least in my experience), is that such kids sometimes also apply such skills and attitudes where it is inconvenient for their parents. (For several years, I consoled myself with the thought that my kids were thinking for themselves, and when they challenged me to come up with a logical reason that their rooms needed to be tidy, I could not, so I decided that this was the price I paid for encouraging their independence. Eventually (ie after a couple of years of college), they decided on their own that they wanted their rooms clean.)

  9. Adam says

    I don’t think I want to hear any more slander about Skatje’s practices at home, PZ. I’m a lawyer, you know. You don’t want she and I to have to take steps.

    Vote for Skatje for best science blog!

  10. Ichthyic says

    perhaps such experiences become a crucible that enhances their innate strengths.

    i applaud your attempts to find something postive, but really, environments like that have little to recommend them.

    war makes people “tough” too; still, I don’t think I would want my kids in Iraq right now (or even in the current military, for that matter)…

  11. Dr. Steve says

    Her room is her room and she could assert that as long as it is not so filthy that it attracts vermin that would lower the value of the house, the she can do as she pleases.

    However, dishes are a family responsiblity (assuming she acutally uses dishes) – and therefore failure to contribute to their cleaning is not so easily defensible. Maybe this: Don’t allow her to use dishes. Set her place at the table with a napkin only.

  12. Steve LaBonne says

    Ah. So feeding and clothing myself is my responsibility, but providing food and clothing for my daughter is her responsibility. Got it. ;)

  13. Ichthyic says


    what a wonderfully silly thing it would be if this thread turned into an argument about who should clean the dishes!


    personally, i foist the responsibility of cleaning the dishes onto my dishwasher.

    I wonder if it thinks that’s fair, since it never dirties any dishes itself?

  14. says

    I was going to say, as a non-parent: if she won’t do dishes, just serve her next meal on the old, dirty ones. As for the room, that’s her space, she should get to control it. Instilling good habits might be nice idea but if you haven’t succeed by now…

    Ah, but Skatje, who’s doing the cooking? (Not to mention the purchasing.) When my friends make dinner for me it seems a fair trade for me to do the dishes afterwards, and vice versa.

  15. says

    Oh, the tragedy of the commons. So the pots and pans that I use for cooking her food are not her responsibility in any way?

    For that matter, what am I doing fixing her meals? She’s grown up, she can do them on her own. Oh, and pay rent on her room.

  16. Richard Clayton says

    Your daughter, sir, is an exceptional and intelligent young woman, and a credit to her family.

  17. Ichthyic says

    Oh, and pay rent on her room.

    ahh, the eternal refuge of parental argumentation.

    I do remember every argument my father lost when i was a teenager ending with:

    well, mister, you can just move out or start paying rent, then!

    trust me, you don’t want to end your argument with that point, PZ.

  18. Lori says

    “For that matter, what am I doing fixing her meals? She’s grown up, she can do them on her own. Oh, and pay rent on her room.”

    It reminds me of the time she said, “I’m not your child, I’m God’s child.” (After reading a letter from my uncle)
    PZ’s promt reply was, “Then God can pay child support.”

  19. HairlessMonkeyDK says

    “She might be amazing, but you can’t even imagine how hard it is to get her to do the dishes and clean her room.”.

    Yeah, well…
    She’s got the important stuff right.
    And that is the best accolade a parent could ever hope for.

  20. doctorgoo says

    The most important thing that I’ve learned from all this is that “So Yah!” is the most effective counter-argument for anything.

    Perhaps Luskin will start using it next?

  21. Annamal says

    hey Skatje, the best way out of the whole dishes conundrum is…cooking, it’s more fun, more creative and it means you can legitimately palm the dishes off onto someone else.

    Plus you get the food you like (in my case when I was at home it was quasi vegetarian/ethnic food) and appreciation from others(which is sadly lacking in terms of dishes).

  22. Ichthyic says

    I notice FTK decided to throw hir hat into the ring on Skatje’s blog.

    Skatje, who is intelligent, probably already knows this, but FTK is an insane regular poster from the NCSE blog and can safely be completely ignored.

  23. says

    Noooooo! You don’t know what kind of food Skatje likes — it’s the blandest possible stuff she can get, with Meat. I’d die. You don’t know what kind of daily struggle it is at our house, trying to find something that will satisfy my craving for exotic meals, and her desire for white bread middle American fluff.

    And there’d also be a pound of candy for dessert every time.

  24. says

    Ah, she shares taste buds with my niblings. My sympathies, PZ. “All the more reason to cut the culinary apron-strings.”

    There’s always sprinkling cayenne or oregano on your dish, to give it a kick. :)

  25. impatientpatient says

    Ah….it is delightful to see an internet icon struggle with the reality of teenage life with a sense of humour. Having my own teenagers who in their own right are amazing, I laugh. When we went to parent teacher conferences and I was told how great my kids were, how responsible, and all that jazz, my only reply was “could you send that child to my home the next time you see them?”

    As for cooking- everyone in my house can cook at least one “real” meal. The problem is, we can never eat it, because we run and run with school and recreational activities. Any advice for that dilemma? Oh, and no-one likes leftovers…..

    I need to go do the dishes now…..

  26. MAJeff says

    You don’t know what kind of food Skatje likes — it’s the blandest possible stuff she can get, with Meat.

    Ah, yes. The good old Minnesota allergy to flavor.

  27. Damien says

    Cecil Adams (Straight Dope) wrote that SPAM stood for Spiced Ham. Spices? Sugar and salt, Minnesota spices…

  28. Ichthyic says

    Sugar and salt, Minnesota spices…

    er, don’t tell me, let me guess…

    you guys have big problems with type II diabetes in the Minnesota area?

  29. Lori says

    SPAM is indeed “Spiced Ham.”

    My sister lives in Austin, (where the SPAM Museum and factory are located)and we have gone to the museum several times. Its like the ethanol plant in Morris, except in Austin you walk outside and smell varying degrees of spiced pork.

    I was born and raised in Minnesota. “Potato hotdish” is a full section of our cookbooks. However, Skatje doesn’t like potatoes.

  30. Kseniya says

    I have to join the chorus here: Although I’m nearly six years older than Skatje, I find her moral compass, her ability to reason, and the skill and grace with which she expresses herself to be worthy not only of admiration, but of emulation. Brava, sister.

  31. anomalous4 says

    Skatje ROCKS!!!!!

    PZ, you’ve got a lot to be proud of in that young lady!

    As for FTK, if she ever wants to know why people “hate Christians,” she should go back and read some of the crap she’s written. Idiots like that give us all a bad name.

  32. Dr. Steve says

    The advantage to eating naught but fluffernutters on Wonder bread is that narry a plate need be dirtied.

    And Skatje – a certain amount of pitching in is required of teenagers since your consumption of family resources vastly outweighs your tangible contributions. Your Dad may have dirtied the plate but he also bought the plate, and he and your mom have washed innumerable plates dirtied by you. Same goes for laundry.