"Just because I like ballet it doesn't mean I'm a poof"
~from the movie Billy Elliot
They sat at the short school table in the blue plastic kiddie chairs with their knees scrunched up watching the clock. The counselor was ten minutes late. They noticed the shelves stacked with books and the walls plastered in children's artwork. The rain was beating steadily down slantwise against the closed window of the stuffy room. A forty something woman with graying hair and black rimmed glasses sped into the room with an armful of books and folders, closing the door behind her.
"Hello Mr and Mrs Jones" she breathed out in a rush "I'm so sorry to have kept you waiting like this. I'm Audrey Phillipe" She stuck out her sweaty hand at the introduction, shaking vigorously before sitting down across the table from the two."Do you know why you're here today?" she asks.
"Sure. You have concerns about Brett's school work" the mother answers.
"It's more than that, I'm afraid to say" She made a big show of shuffling papers in a manilla envelope before her.
The parents shifted in their cramped seats to get more comfortable. It appeared this would lake longer than they had originally thought.
"We are concerned because Brett is not living up to his potential" the counselor continued.
"How so?" Mrs Jones asked as she leaned forward to look directly into Mrs. Phillipe's eyes.
"Well, according to the standardized testing Brett has had up to this point, he should be at the top of his class. You have a very bright boy."
"And?" the mother prodded wanting to get to the point.
"Frankly, Mrs. Jones, he has sunk fast to the bottom of the class in the past four months. His teacher is concerned about his productivity. He has become distracted and shoddy in his work"
"Is this leading up to his older brother's ADD?" asked the father "Because if it is, I'm telling you Brett doesn't have that. We've been through it before. We can recognize the symptoms. Brett is 200% more focused than his brother ever could be."
"No, No Mr. Jones. It's not that. No, not at all. Let me explain.I have been watching Brett closely this past few weeks. I've given him tests. I've spoken with him, his friends, his past teachers. I feel the issue is more serious than ADD. I believe the two of you need to prepare yourselves."
"Prepare for what?" asked the mother with a concerned look on her face. She intently watched the counselor seeing the signs of nervousness, a little perspiration on the brow, flushed skin. The air was feeling heavier, warm.
"Well, based on his interests I, we, his teacher and I that is, feel he may be distracted for a specific reason"
"Which interests are you referring too? His love of reading? His love of drama? which?"
"The acting is part of it, so is his singing, not many boys do that, and also....well, he's always dancing to some hidden song in his head, swaying and tapping his toes."
"What's wrong with that? He's musically inclined."
Mrs Phillipe consulted her notes over her glasses. "His favorite groups all tend to be boy bands. Also, he doesn't do very well in PE. "
"What are you getting at, Mrs Phillipe?" The mother was becoming irritated with the run around.
She takes a deep breath. "Your son, I feel, may be part of a fringe group that may not be accepted by his peers. His interests lie on the fringe and generally speaking boys whose interests lie there tend to be "confused" about the feelings they are starting to develop. I don't want to pigeon hole that group of people, but it is normally the case."
"Excuse me? You get this because his concentration has dropped, he likes to sing and dance, and he likes the Backstreet Boys? EXACTLY what is it you are trying to tell us. Spell it out please."
"We think Brett may be gay and that dealing with that identity is giving him emotional problems. You need to get him to feel good about himself. Try steering him into tap dance if he likes to dance because it is a more acceptable form of dance for boys. He won't be quite so "fringe". What do you think about that?"
The counselor studied the parents across the table. The father remained quiet, thoughtful.
"I think" began the mother gathering up her steam "First, that you can not make judgements about a person's sexuality based on their interests. Second, that the boy is only ten years old and puberty hasn't begun yet. You are putting hormones on him before his time. And furthermore, even if he does come up to us and tells us that he is homosexual it wouldn't make one whit of difference. A person is more than his or her partner."
"Do you know or does Brett know anyone who is a part of this fringe group?" asked the counselor.
"I don't see what that has to do with his productivity. Is there anything else you want to discuss with regards to his school work?"
"No, that was all I wanted to talk to you about. This doesn't bother you?"
"Only if you've brought this to him and have tried to make him feel like there is something wrong with him. Have you?"
"No, no of course not. I just felt you should be aware of the situation."
"Keep it that way. This conversation stays here. If he is confused, he knows he can talk to us when he is ready. He doesn't need to be told, "I think you might be gay" by anyone, least of all people he respects just because he likes the arts. Is that all?"
"yes, we're done. Keep an eye on him, Mrs. Jones. Thankyou for coming. It was a pleasure to meet the two of you."
As they drove away, the father asked, " How come you didn't tell her you were bi?"
"What, and give her more reasons to label him other than his interests? The apple doesn't fall far from the tree eh? She'll look more for things that may or may not be there. He may not even be questioning himself. Brett'll be fine. He doesn't need to deal with the thought of knowing someone thinks this of him at this point in his life. He will find his own way in his own time. Just because he likes the arts does not automatically mean he is "fringe". Someone is stuck in the Fifties! Besides, my sexuality is none of her business. It doesn't relate to his schoolwork."
"So we don't tell him what she said?"
"No, let him be a kid. We do what we always have, love and support him, the rest will fall into place as it should."