Last week, a 7-year-old Australian boy came home and told his mums that he had heard some comments in the schoolyard about his family.
The boy was 7-year-old Nicholas, who lives in Melbourne with his mums Katherine Jorgensen and Roanne Blackler.
"He is known in the school as the kid with two mums," Katherine Jorgensen told BuzzFeed News. "We seem to be the only rainbow family in the school.
"Most of the time, it’s pretty fine, but apparently what happened is that these kids were saying something around him, within his earshot, and looking at him. 'That’s the kid with two mums, it’s not a real family. He’s got two mums'."
The comment was made days after the government embarked on a nationwide postal survey about same-sex marriage.
Nicholas' godmother, Bek Allcroft, lives in Sydney. She was already worried that the heightened debate on same-sex families would affect Nicholas — but after she saw reports of a poster in Melbourne saying "Stop The Fags" and citing a discredited study claiming gay parents are more likely to abuse their children, Allcroft said "Enough".
She penned an emotional letter to her godson about his family, telling him that she loves him, and sent it on Monday night.
"I got home very angry and I sat down and I banged away at my laptop keys," Allcroft told BuzzFeed News.
"Kids are innocent. I'm sick of them being used as political footballs by people who don't know any better.
"Some people might say that it’s not okay for your mums to love each other because they are both women. THEY ARE WRONG," Allcroft wrote in the letter.
"Your mums were made to love each other from the same moment
the stars exploded, and they are the exactly right people for each other, and for you."
Allcroft, a Christian and a theology student, said she gets frustrated when people "twist my faith and my religion to suit their political agenda".
"The next person who goes, 'Oh but Jesus said...'. Jesus actually didn't say gay is bad. Jesus said 'love people'. It's not complicated."
Katherine Jorgensen said she and Blackler cried when they received the letter.
"I thought it was the most marvellous thing she had written," she said.
"She captured not just what we want to say to Nicholas, but what people want to say to their own kids. It was just beautiful."
Since the postal survey was announced, Jorgensen and Blackler have had to make changes to their daily routine to try and protect Nicholas from the debate.
It used to be one of Nicholas' chores to collect the mail — along with filling up the toilet roll holder and feeding the dog — but the letterbox is now a battleground, and Nicholas has one less job.
"We had to tell him he couldn’t collect the mail anymore, that he might read something about his family," Jorgensen said. "The first thing kids who are seven say is 'why?'"
The couple is also wary of media, worrying that opening a newspaper or switching on the TV could expose Nicholas to false claims about his family.
"We’ve got a kid who is seven who reads at a 9-year-old level," Jorgensen said. "Yay for Nicholas! But that means we can’t let him read the newspaper.
"There’s too much stuff he could come across that puts his family in a negative light. We’ve had to alter our lives because of the postal survey."
Jorgensen said she and Blackler are "totally transparent" with Nicholas, but that he is a sensitive kid and they are deeply worried about the effect the debate would have on him.
"Any question he has ever had, we sit down and talk about it," she said. "But this would open up a situation where he would have to realise just how many people out there don't think his family is right, correct. Worth as much as others, or equal.
"We are so normal, it’s ridiculous. We are more than boring."
Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Lane Sainty at email@example.com.
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