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A Bigot Was the Guest Speaker at My Kids' School

As a parent, sometimes it's easiest to say, "do what I say, not what I do!" I'm not perfect, but that doesn't stop me from having high expectations for my children.

We all want to raise good people, but maybe it's a little hard for us to actually be the good people we want to see in the world. I mean, that takes work and hard choices and sometimes it's easier to just not, if we're being honest. Sometimes it's easiest just to be quiet and follow the majority, but unfortunately for my children, I've never been that person.

I'm really trying my best to raise human beings who are tolerant, understanding and accepting of differences. I want my children to recognize differences but not allow those differences to change the way they see that person. I don't believe in a colorblind world, but I also don't believe in a world where we can judge books by their covers.

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What race we are, who we worship, whom we love or where we come from should not factor into the equation. This is what I'm instilling in my daughters. This is how I live. But this doesn't mean that I believe everyone deserves to be heard.

Toward the end of the school year, we were informed that our children would have a surprise "special guest speaker," Indiana Governor Mike Pence. The kids had been studying local government and, in theory, this was a perfect fit. We were notified so that all the children could dress accordingly.

As a Latina, raising Latina daughters, there is simply no room in my life for hate and discrimination. We've spent too much of our history trying to get out from underneath the discriminatory hand of a patriarchal government. These are not values that I want to teach my children or even expose them to when I have any say in the matter.

For many, this was a privilege. People were excited. But I'm not a fan of Pence's politics. In recent months alone, the governor has been in the news for being an outspoken critic of the Affordable Care Act, against marriage equality, and signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which goes into effect this week and essentially allows business owners to discriminate against the LGBTQ community. As a Latina, raising Latina daughters, there is simply no room in my life for hate and discrimination. We've spent too much of our history trying to get out from underneath the discriminatory hand of a patriarchal government. These are not values that I want to teach my children or even expose them to when I have any say in the matter. I want them to know they can take a stand and say no.

My children do not instinctually hate, judge or crinkle their noses up at anyone. They do not choose to discriminate against anyone because of their sexual preference, race, religion, color or creed. They love and appreciate people based on actions and how they treat them. They look for the good within everyone they meet.

I'm teaching my children compassion, empathy and understanding outside of the scope of their own experience, not hatred. I kept my children home from school that day. I could not, in good conscience, send my child to hear this man speak, any more than I could send them to listen to Hitler give a speech because in both cases, these men believe one kind of man to be better than another. I don't agree. I believe we are all equal. This is what I teach my daughters; to always see the human being within.

The thought of my children cheering and happily shaking hands with a man who has chosen to single out communities and make them susceptible to discrimination and hatred was absolutely unbearable for me, so I made the hard choice. I chose to be the kind of human being I'd like to see in the world.

It wasn't an easy choice to keep my children home because it wasn't what everyone else was doing, but it was what I needed to do for them. Normally, I would have attended the rally with my children but this man and his beliefs offend me on a very basic human level. The thought of my children cheering and happily shaking hands with a man who has chosen to single out communities and make them susceptible to discrimination and hatred was absolutely unbearable for me, so I made the hard choice. I chose to be the kind of human being I'd like to see in the world.

The kind of adults my children become is completely on me, not the school or the government. I brought them into the world and they are my responsibility. I talked to my children openly about who Governor Pence is and they know that he is responsible for legalizing discrimination against same-sex couples. They do not approve of his beliefs, and so I kept them home.

This was one of those defining moments in parenting when you have to decide whether you do what everyone else is doing or you choose to take a stand for what is right. I made the hard choice, but I'm glad I did. What would you have done?

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