Raising My Rainbow

When The Boys’ Room Isn’t Safe For A Boy

My son is six and a half years old. He’s been potty trained with nary an accident since exactly his third birthday.

Last week, in his first grade classroom, he peed his pants. He sat in his urine until the dismissal bell rang. His pants were soaked and cold when he got out of school. He was uncomfortable and he smelled. He didn’t want anybody to know. It was his secret.

He started crying in the car.

“I’m so ashamed of myself,” he said over and over again. Tears rolled down his face, even though he willed them not to. He couldn’t hold them back.

Come to find out, my son — with his long auburn hair, pink and purple fitted clothes, feminine backpack and wrist full of rainbow-colored loom bracelets – is terrified to use the boys’ bathroom at school.

photo 1On his first visit to the boys’ bathroom, he headed straight for the safety of the stall. Boys started peeking through the cracks in the stall to see if he was going pee or poop. Pooping at school is an embarrassment.  He avoided the bathroom for as long as he could. The next time he had to go, he, again, walked straight to the stall. He locked the door behind him. He lifted the toilet seat lid and unzipped his pants. He could hear them talking. He could hear them looking. He turned around. Boys were peeking through cracks again. This time they were trying to see his genitals. They wanted to know if my son has a penis or a vagina.

My son refuses to go into the boys’ bathroom again. He has stopped drinking his juice boxes at lunch.  He refuses to drink anything at breakfast. He’ll do anything to not have to use the boys’ bathroom at school. He’ll do anything to avoid having strangers look at his private parts while taking bets as to what they’ll see when they get to see something.

I’m sure you can understand why my son is not comfortable using the boys’ restroom at school. He wouldn’t be comfortable using the girls’ restroom either. Because he identifies as male, the girls’ bathroom doesn’t feel like the place for him.

He wants to use the boys’ bathroom, it’s just that he wants to feel safe once he crosses the threshold into a domain that is loud, messy and run by the boys who dominate the playground. It’s a world where adults are not allowed and one where being different or weak makes you a target.

We have a “female campus,” which means that our principal and vice principal are female. I’m told that it’s against the law for them to enter the boys’ restroom. It’s the only place on campus where the kids have free reign. They know that adults can’t enter. It’s like Lord of the Flies in there. An island of urine, screams, voyeurism and soaking wet paper towels thrown onto the ceiling and hanging down like dirty icicles. It’s aggressive; my son is not.

My son has been given the option to use the nurse’s bathroom in the school’s front office. To a first grader at one of the largest elementary school campuses in Orange County, the nurse’s office feels like it’s miles away. When he does use that restroom, the other kids ask him why.  He feels weird no matter where he pees.

So, instead, he holds his bladder from 7:40 am. To 2:30 p.m., except for on days like the other day, when he could hold it no longer.

photo 2After getting emotional and feeling blue about raising a boy who only likes pink, I contacted the school. I wiped my own tears and set out to fight his battles, clear his path and ensure that my son would be safe and comfortable at school. I feel like I’m the only mother who has to fight for her son’s rights to toilet in privacy, without others trying to get a good look at what’s between his legs.

“Of course you should talk to the school,” my brother said. “But, you need to teach him to stand up for himself if he doesn’t like what’s happening to him.”

I had been operating in crisis mode. I had been so focused on handling the problem for him, that I was forgetting to teach him how to handle it on his own.

We role-played.

“Stop looking at my privates.”

“You’re being rude.”

“If you don’t stop, I’m going to tell.”

“How would you like it if someone was watching you go to the bathroom?”

“Don’t be gross.”

“What you’re doing is not okay.”


It doesn’t feel like enough. It’s not enough. But at least now, my son knows what to say to try to defend and protect himself.

I talked to my mom about it. Weeks ago she left her bible study in tears. A fellow church-going Christian claimed to have insider information and knew that my son was using the girls’ bathroom at school. There would be hell to pay when “everybody else” found out about it.

My son isn’t using the boys’ bathroom, he’s not using the girls’ bathroom, he’s hardly using a bathroom at all. I worry every day. Going to the bathroom should be the easiest part of the school day.

But, for my son, it’s not.

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  • bleachedpeach

    When will this madness stop? Your son is strong young guy. It is gross that kids are peeking when someone is using the toilet. They are the ones with the problem.

  • Lustworthy

    I lived through this as well; I completely understand. Once I was in middle school and high school I would ask to be excused to use the bathroom during class when there was no one there.

  • Paul F

    Yeah,I used the nurses office bathroom during high school after some SOB pissed all over my shoes while I was on the can. They thought it was so hilarious, me, not at all.

  • modelo giro

    I´m sorry, but if he´s all uptight about his privates it´s because you make a big deal out of them at home.
    If someone wants to see me piss, they can watch, if they think it´s so exciting. and it´s always been that way since I was little. I wasn´t told it was something private. And I sit down, so there is nothing to see anyway.
    The more you make to want to hide something the more someone wants to see. If it´s not secret, there is nothing exciting about it anymore.
    Don´t make this a gender or orientation thing. Just make him more comfortabel about showing his privates. Nobody really cares if it´s out there. They get attracted to the sectretive behavior!
    Does he shower at scool or did you make him feel uncomfortable about that too? .

  • middleagespread

    Sad to think that one option maybe home schooling. He may feel better, do better in his academics, and those kids that r his friends can still do after school activities. So glad I no longer have to deal with this. I hope he can find his way.

  • AnitaMann

    Public restrooms should not be communal. There’s absolutely no reason that each toilet can’t be set up in a water closet style room, similar to a Port-a-Potty so that a person has privacy. Communal bathrooms are weird, intrusive, and offensive. Stalls are not private. We should be insisting that public restrooms be redesigned in this country.

  • the other Greg

    Damn, I really HATE the moronic “advice” here, “you need to teach him to stand up for himself.” That’s extremely unlikely to work, and could make things worse, and accomplish nothing except make the victim feel like it’s his fault. Personally, at that age I had a bad stutter anyway and couldn’t even have managed the longer phrases, certainly not under stress. I suppose maybe “STOP IT” but that’s about it (and it wouldn’t have worked).

    I wish people would STOP IT with this stupid advice, and take a serious look at home schooling rather than leave their kids in babysitting prison for 12 years.

    Ever notice how modern schools look exactly like prisons?

  • Ogre Magi

    Jeeze, I feel so bad for that poor kid!
    I wish I had some advice to give, but I don’t :(

  • Dixie Rect

    Will this woman ever stop exploiting this kid for cash? If its true, that is. Three blog entries in the past week, they all sound like bad fiction.

  • Justin

    School sucked for me. Bullying was always the worst in the bathroom. I can relate to this kid. I used to sneak out of gym class to go to the bathroom. But most of the time I held it.

  • KDub

    @Dixie Rect: Yeah, she totally gives it away with the dialogue between her and her kids. It’s just way too after-school special. Interesting fiction, but very disturbing that she’s using her kids to create it.

  • the other Greg

    @KDub: At this point I hope he IS fictional! Because if he’s real, I’m afraid that ten years from now we’ll be reading about C.J. in another Columbine or Sandy Hook.

  • Ms Urethra Johnson

    Had to register for this one!
    First off; thanks mom for discussing MY PRIVATE issues with the world… You might as well start a “therapy” fund for me… sure will need it…it’s only been six years, yet I’m already scarred for the next hundred. Note to MOMS everywhere… STAY OUT of EVERYTHING that concerns your sons’ sexuality AND sexual identity issues, PERIOD: that’s DAD’s job, not yours. Absent dad? I’m sure they have MALE counselors somewhere available for that very purpose. Can someone save that poor child? This is total child abuse. So so so wrong on so many levels. Make it STOP.

  • RomanHans

    I have a book out, like the author here. My real name is easily Googled, like the author here. Which is why THERE’S NO WAY IN HELL I’D WRITE ABOUT SOMEONE I LOVED PEEING THEIR PANTS.

  • zaneymcbanes

    @Dixie Rect: Agreed. This woman is a psycho and these stories become more and more implausible by the week, it’s only a matter of time before she’s outed like that blogger last year who claimed her son was harassed at Wal-Mart.

  • Dixie Rect

    Her lies are just crazy. According to her own blog posts, this kid turned 2 in 2013. Now, he’s in first grade and 6 1/2 in December of 2013? Please lady. We’re on to your BS lady. She went on the Today Show with some kid who looked at least 6! The kid clearly was an actor, prancing all over the place, it was a disgrace.

    I am so sick of her – enough with this!

  • unclemike

    Wow. So much hate and ignorance in the comments here.

    Dixie, if you actually read in her online blog, back in June 2013 she wrote a post about CJ’s last day in Kindergarten. Now he’s in 1st grade.

    Kids adapt the language they are taught about. If CJ’s mom uses the term “gender nonconforming” her kids will naturally start using it too. My nephew is in 1st grade and I’m constantly amazed at his vocabulary.

    Get out more.

  • zaneymcbanes

    @unclemike: It’s not the subject matter but the way that she presents it that bothers me. This whole blog reinforce ideas of gender binary and stereotypes. Her son never comes off as more than a stereotype. As somebody who works in elementary schools and sees a lot of “feminine” boys, and as somebody who was one of those “feminine” boys and grew up into a “feminine” man, these things are never so black and white, and that is what makes me doubt the veracity of this woman’s claims (or alternatively, that she is perhaps dramatizing or exaggerating). I honestly would be okay if she was making it up except that this blog does so much to reinforce the either-or ideas of gender binary.

  • Ogre Magi

    @unclemike: You go unclemike!

  • Vegas Tearoom

    Why isn’t there a hall monitor, a teacher’s assistant, somebody in the bathroom making sure boys take care of their business and leave?

  • ho

    It’s time for the little pisser to take an iphone with him into the stall and let the principal play the recording over the pa. The students will get even with the perpetrators.

  • AuntieChrist

    This woman’s blog is too slick and professional to warrant this style of writing or rather lack of style…. Must be a fictional collaboration of several people… Not sure if child is even a real person…I encourage you to check out her website.

  • CherylTHardin

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  • BrandoPolo

    It’s tough but he’s going to be dealing with stuff for a long time. The best the adults in his life is explain, education, shield, comfort, teach, and mitigate the pain. But they can’t hide it from all of it, or stop all of it. Just have to be aware, active, and diligent, and keep communication lines open. What else can you do here?

  • hotshot70

    I used to avoid bathroom in school as well. I always used the stalls. Today, if someone wanted to see me privates, I would say out loud “do you want to come in and shake it for me?” I know how rough being a young boy can be when you are going thru body issues. Tip for kids: yor body is fine the way it is. Do not let anyone say you are less than perfect. To parents, let the moms care for the girls, let the dads help the boys. I remember my very first day of Kindergarten. Our teacher (female) walked us into the bathroom, pointed out the urinals and toilets, and made us wash hands while she stood there. Today, that teacher would be reprimanded. Another quick fix would be to take some duct tape and cover the cracks, then remove it when you leave.

  • Bee Gaga

    I think most gay boys go through something like this (not to that extent though) when I was younger I always had a problem going to the bathroom and even to this day at 19 I only go into the stalls if I walk into a restroom and all the stalls are being used and there are 10 open urinals I will just leave and hold my bladder. The boy does need to stand up for himself because mama isn’t always going to be there and I totally get it. Being a feminine male with a womanly body kinda and face (I’m black so my hips/ass are quite large lol) in high school gooing to the bathroom boys would always like stop for a minute and stare a little because they thought I was walking into the wrong bathroom. Now, in college its still the same especially going to the gym. The stares I get in the locker room, the number of people that come in the leave out to make sure it says “men” are just so uncomfortable. I even had one guy come up to me and ask “is this the girls locker room”. So if this boy is going to stay his feminine self then he has to get use to it like I have.

  • nature boy

    I’m glad this woman is chronicling her journey trying to do the right thing for her son even when she is not exactly sure what the right thing is… I’m sure it’s helpful for other parents with the same situation to read.

    I do feel like part of this mother’s problem is that she was taught that gender is black and white and therefore where does pink fit into that? So she’s making an issue out of it because she has to deal with it constantly as an issue. Hopefully it is becoming less of an issue and one day kids can just be themselves and we will accept that real round people do not fit into square boxes. But at least she’s “evolving” and sharing her mistakes and successes honestly.

    Growing up is tough, yes. I agree the most important thing is teaching her kid to just deal with it and stay strong and confident. It’s never too young to learn that sometimes you have to reject and ignore criticism and harassment. Roleplaying is an excellent idea. (Plus I don’t get why using the nurse’s bathroom is a bad solution.)

    My partner (52 years old), hyper-masculine acting guy, still remembers being attacked, stripped, and held down on the ground and taunted for having hair under his arms by all the guys in his class who didn’t realize that they too were going to grow hair under their arms. We laugh a lot about that now… hoping they remember that incident and feel like true idiots. But it was very hurtful to him at the time. School sucks sometimes but I am still glad I went to school instead of being home-schooled.

  • nature boy

    Oh yeah, well, I’m still pretty ignorant about some of this stuff too, so I wonder, I know a lot of parents teach their kids how to gender-conform in certain situations so that it does make it easier for the kid. So would it really be wrong to just honestly say to this kid, “yeah, it’s going to be harder for you in school if you want to wear dresses there. You’re going to have to deal with it and I will be there for you and support you. But if you prefer not to deal with it, then I will teach you how to “butch it up” in man-drag when you are in school.

    Sometimes I think there are times and places where it is useful to be able to understand and project a masculine stereotype. Is it wrong to teach this to your child? So they have another tool in their toolbox they can use when needed?

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