ABC Family’s ‘The Fosters’

ABC Family has a way with shows and their new show The Fosters is rich with teenage strife, LGBT issues and kids dealing with the foster system.  If you have not watched up through Episode 5, this is your spoiler alert so stop reading now.ABC-Family-The-Fosters

Jude is the younger brother of Callie, who the two-mom Foster household took in after she was released from juvey. After a harrowing rescue (see Episode 1), Jude has also become a member of the Foster family which includes one biological son, twins who were foster children that the moms adopted and now Jude and Callie.  Callie is 16 going on 36 because she has been forced to grow up quickly and protect her younger brother Jude.  It is not until this episode that we really understand why he needs some much protection.  Though no one comes out and says it specifically, 12/13 year old Jude is gay.  They refer to him as ‘special’ not in a negative way but an endearing way.  Jude goes to school with his finger nails painted and gets bullied, albeit quickly, by three boys in his grade.  Callie reprimands him at home for going to school with nail polish on, while the Moms encourage Jude to explore who he is in the safe space that is thier home, and his school, which one of the Moms runs as Vice Principal.  The next day, the boy that Jude likes comes to school with nail polish on as well and sits with him at lunch.  There is so much to explore in this scenario that we need to break it down.

Family members telling you to suppress your feelings/who you are.

It is is hard, unforgiving, cruel world.  Callie has Jude’s best interest in mind by telling him to act normal.  This is fairly detrimental to younger folks who are different; lgbt, autistic, adhd, torettes syndrome, etc..  It is sometimes easier for these kids to try to act normal, whatever normal is, rather than being themselves through expressing and embracing their own unique individuality.  There is no doubt that when you are different, you are more prone to being bullied, to developing depression, and to not wanting to act like yourself.  If you are a young person that falls into this catergory, or know someone who does, I strongly recommend visiting the It Gets Better Project website. Check out their videos to hear other peoples’ stories of getting bullied and how life did get better for them, and will get better for you.

Adults telling you it is ok to be who you are.

The Moms, Lena and Stef, have a talk with Jude, telling him that it is OK to be who he is. If he wants to wear nail polish to school, go for it!  This encouragement is a great start to helping a young person feel like they’re not weird or crazy.  It, however does not mean that they will not get bullied. If you’re an adult reading this post and you have a young person in your life that you are supporting through finding themselves, please be prepared to help that young person deal with and prepare for the bullying that they unfortunately will endure.  stopbullying.gov has some great resources to offer.

Peers standing in solidarity with someone who is different.

Conner, the boy that Jude has a crush on and who he is trying to strike up a friendship with, sees Jude being bullied for wearing blue nail polish and comes to school the next day wearing his own blue nail polish.  ABC Family has started a new campaign called #blueforjude. Take a look and see what people all over the world are doing to support Jude.  While this movement is fantastic and shows that so many people out there support young people that are different, Jude is a character on a TV show.  My hope is that in real life if you encounter a friend or acquaintance being bullied, that you will stand in solidarity with them like Conner did for Jude.  Having a friend or friends to stand with a young person helps to decrease their likelihood of being bullied (in my opinion).

ADULTS: We get bullied too!  Please apply and and all of this advice to your own lives as well.

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