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Dear Flora: Black Lives Matter and LGBT+ Teens

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Dear Flora,

I am a white woman living in the U.S. I have been following the Black Lives Matter protest, and I want to support the cause. However, my job is very public, and my work contract forbids me from engaging in the protests, or even writing online about controversial issues. But I know that staying silent doesn't help anyone, and I think it's important to help by using my platform to raise up black voices. However, I don't want to lose my job! What should I do?

-Black Lives Matter

Dear BLM,

I commend you for wanting to support the Black Lives Matter movement. I also empathize with not wanting to lose your livelihood over supporting the cause, especially with how limited jobs can be in the current economic climate during the COVID-19 pandemic. As you mentioned, it appears that any public support you can show may very well be in violation of your contract. However, there are other ways in which you can support the protesters and the black community, without using your name.

First, support black businesses and communities with your money. Unless your contract explicitly states that you can't patronize the business efforts of black Americans, you should be free and clear to use your money how you like. In that vein, you can also choose to donate to organizations, charities, and even Black Lives Matter itself, with a donation. You can in many cases choose to be anonymous, so there's no fear of getting your name on a list of patrons.

Second, if you want to be more involved online, you can consider creating a separate account for your BLM-related posts. S long as you're not using your work email or any identifying information, you will not likely be identified as the owner of the account at work. And of course, if your job monitors your online activity, save your activism for when you're off the clock.

Supporting Black Lives Matter is a very personal choice, and you don't have to lose your job over it. If you do choose to march and publicly show support of the cause, I'd have a backup plan for employment. But you're doing something that means a great deal to the community if you're an effective ally, and that's worth a lot, in my opinion.

Dear Flora,

I have a 15-year-old daughter. Since about 6 months ago, her friend "Katie" has been hanging around our house a lot, often staying late. She and my daughter have been pretty much inseparable in that time. Two days ago, it was late and I peeked into my daughter's room to see if they were asleep. They weren't, and in fact were kissing on her bed! I closed the door and coughed loudly, and Katie left not long after. My daughter hasn't said anything about it. In my faith we don't condone same-sex relationships, and my daughter knows that. I'm grossed out and really upset that our beliefs didn't seem to stick with our daughter. How do I fix this? Do I keep Katie from coming over? Help!

-Grossed Out Mom

Dear GOM,

This may be painful for you to read, but I encourage you to read all the way through. I'll start by saying this: your daughter is not broken, but you do appear to have an LGBT+ teen. I understand that in many faiths and belief systems, this is not acceptable. I hope you understand that being LGBT+ is not a choice your daughter made. It's how she was born.

Stopping Katie from coming into your home isn't going to "solve" what you consider to be a problem. You could cut your daughter off from the world, and it wouldn't make her who she's not naturally. What setting restrictions and banning Katie from your house will do is cause your daughter to resent you, and break what I hope is a strong bond of trust between you. If you do this, never count on your daughter to bring anything personal up to you again, and expect that in her adulthood, you may have a very poor relationship.

I think that your daughter hasn't said anything to you because she has a very real fear that you may shun and denounce her for who she is. If a conversation is in order, I strongly suggest that you let her open it. Coming out is difficult, and it's even more difficult if you're outed before you're ready. Let her come to you first. In the meantime, if you haven't already had 'the talk' with your daughter, educate yourself in preparation for an LGBT+ inclusive sex talk. It's important that your daughter be well-informed as to her reproductive health and choices, even if she isn't in a heterosexual relationship. 

In the end, pushing against who she is won't help. You might feel grossed out, and your religion may forbid it, but the health and happiness of your child is paramount.

That's all for this week, Folks! Please submit your questions to the link below, and I'll see you in two weeks!