Rebecca Millette

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Parents of “genderless” baby criticised for parenting methods

Rebecca Millette
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TORONTO, Ontario, May 24, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Parents of 4 month-old Storm decided before the baby was born to keep their child’s gender a secret as a “tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation”.

“If you really want to get to know someone, you don’t ask what’s between their legs,” Storm’s father, David Stocker told the Toronto Star .

Toronto-based parents, David Stocker and Kathy Witterick have chosen a lifestyle for themselves and their three children that takes their own liberal upbringing to a new level.  Criticized by family and friends, they believe they are challenging social and conventional norms in a progressive and positive, although difficult, way by the very approach they take to their lives and raising their children.

Stoker is a teacher at City View Alternative, a tiny school that bases teaching on social-justice issues like class, race and gender, while Witterick is a stay-at-home mom who “unschools”, an educational idea based on the idea that a child chooses whatever type of schooling they desire.  Their older sons, Jazz, 5, and Kio, 2, choose what clothes, hairstyles, and activities they want and are encouraged to explore and challenge “gender identity” or how they are expected to look and act as boys.

Stoker and Witterick’s sons are often assumed to be girls since their choice of long, braided-hair or pink dresses confuses onlookers.  Their eldest son Jazz chose not to attend school because of fear of questions others may ask about his choices.

When their third child, Storm was born, the family sent an email to family and friends explaining their choice: “We’ve decided not to share Storm’s sex for now - a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm’s lifetime (a more progressive place? ...).”

By keeping Storm’s gender a secret, Stoker and Witterick want to let their baby choose “what” she or he will be.  “In not telling the gender of my precious baby, I am saying to the world, ‘Please can you just let Storm discover for him/herself what she/he wants to be?!” Witterick said.

Meanwhile, with the publication of Storm’s story, the social blogosphere and readers have erupted to voice opinion on the subject.  Many have criticized the parents for their choice, as well as requiring their other young children to remain secretive. 

One American psychologist, while in support of the parents’ decision to allow their children to make choices without “gender bias”, said that instead of giving Storm freedom to decide whether he/she was “male or female or in between” they were effectively creating for Storm another category that could lead to marginalization.

Despite the obvious difficulties in keeping such a secret, Stocker and Witterick struggle in knowing whether they are doing the right thing for their children, especially allowing them sufficient social freedom. 

Yet, they believe their choice is right - for as long as they and their older children choose to continue Storm’s secret.

“Everyone keeps asking us, ‘When will this end?’” says Witterick. “And we always turn the question back. Yeah, when will this end? When will we live in a world where people can make choices to be whoever they are?”

Read the complete story and interview

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