Monday, November 20, 2006

Lebo and Diversity

The following comment was posted yesterday to an older post at Pittsblog. The conversation, however, belongs here:
My partner and I are considering a move to Mt. Lebanon and are questioning the community attitude toward lesbians? We are planning to start a family and the schools are attractive. But we are unsure if there will be trouble for us from locals. I'd appreciate any thoughts on the subject from you (i.e. locals).
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26 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just moved here from a place that was open to all forms of familes. I enjoyed it, and it was eye opening.

Since I have been here, I have seen the discrimination against basically everyone.

Not sure if the South Hills would be the best place, just being honest.

November 20, 2006 9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find this community tends to be primarily focused on kids and money. I have no idea what it's like to be any kind of minority here, but I do feel like not having kids leaves my husband and I outside of a lot of the bonding that goes on. I love my immediate neighbors, but it just seems like making friends is easier if you're at school activities. Or La Pomponee.

The discrimination here isn't the "egging your house" type. More the usual Pittsburgh "If your mom didn't know my mom in grade school, you don't belong".

November 20, 2006 11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I didn't have kids in school, there is no way I would live in Mt Lebanon. Zero chance.

Once my last graduates high school, I will move and let somebody else pay the taxes.

November 20, 2006 2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A timely discussion, as I believe there is meeting coming up to vote on our "community attitude" toward lesbians.

Though I've never seen a WNBA game on at Molly Brannigans, I expect you will get treated as you expect to get treated and treat others. The other comments on this thread largely validate that when you identify yourself as an outsider you can at the very least expect indifference. We're too busy to connect with those that embody disconnection.

There are ignorant people everywhere who need to judge you. Get over it and you will find some nice people in Mt. Lebo who don't care about your sexual proclivity, your money, or your lack of children.

November 20, 2006 3:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would really love to comment here with my real name, but I don't want to "out" my neighbor since he's never really come out to any of us on the street. The rainbow flag license plate holder gives him away though.

That being said -- I really hope you do move into Mt. Lebanon. No one has ever treated my neighbor any different regarding his sexuality -- and quite honestly, I don't think any of us care. He's a good person and a great neighbor. I could care less who he loves or what he does in the privacy of his own home. That goes for anyone regardless of their sexuality.

Mt. Lebanon needs more diversity. Interestingly enough, everyone in this blog entry (myself included) has commented anonymously -- because the truth hurts about some people in our town -- and I guess some people are worried about the reprecussions of saying things "as they really are".

I'd really like to hear some of the examples that the first poster made when he/she said "Since I have been here, I have seen the discrimination against basically everyone." I think that some clear examples must be given before making such a statement as that.

I have lived in this town for a very long time and I have never, ever seen someone discriminated by their race, religion or sexuality. My neighbor isn't the first gay person to live on our street and I doubt he will be the last. It's just a shame that our society as a whole makes him feel unwelcome to be himself and introduce his partner to all of us. I hope that someday he'll have the courage to do so.

So back to your initial comment. I really hope that you and your partner move to Mt. Lebanon and raise your children here. If I had the chance to meet you both, I'd give you a tour of the town myself!

November 20, 2006 9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'd really like to hear some of the examples that the first poster made when he/she said "Since I have been here, I have seen the discrimination against basically everyone."

The usual jokes behind their backs and acting "better" than those people.

I agree, I am anonymous because I believe there will be reprecussions.

November 21, 2006 7:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, when my kids are through school (in 1&1/2 years) We're gone! This place doesn't outward discriminate- just the quiet cold for those not participating in the excessive display of wealth. I belive the HS yearbook got it right a couple of years ago when the theme was "Living in the Bubble" - You're either in or you're way out!

November 21, 2006 10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would love to see your family move to Mt. Lebanon if you moved to MY STREET.

There is definitely discrimination in Mt. Lebanon, it is just discreet. Unfortunately, I believe the most overt discrimination occurs in our schools. As any parent knows, children must be taught to be kind, compassionate, and to accept all people. Young children and teenagers discriminate against one another based on clothing, body size, wealth, sexual orientation, gender and even intelligence and college choice.

Many Mt. Lebanon alumni show favortism to the children of other Mt. Lebanon alumni. This is definitely true in youth sports. Even Mt. Lebanon graduates are given special consideration when interviewing for teaching positions. I am a Mt. Lebanon graduate and I know many people that are content with the exact same friends they have had since high school and see no need to expand their horizons.

The counselors in the elementary schools have helped, but Mt. Lebanon still has a long way to go.

I can't say that I would recommend another suburb. I think most Pittsburgh suburbs are the same. Shadyside is probably the most diverse part of the city, but it expensive. Unless your child is enrolled in the Scholars Program in the City of Pittsburgh Schools, I believe your child will receive a better education in the Mt. Lebanon Schools.

If you do move to Mt. Lebanon you will find great people and kind neighbors. It may just take you some time. We moved from one neighborhood in Mt. Lebanon to another and wish that we were back in our old neighborhood even though we had outgrown our house.

My friend who moves frequently has a great tip when moving to a new city. When you find a house you are interested in, knock on the door of the neighbors on either side. Ask the neighbors if they like living in the town and if they have children that have attended the schools. It is a quick, easy way to get a feeling about the people you will be living near. She has always gone with her gut reaction regarding the people she has met. In 5 moves in the past 15 years, she has only been wrong once.

Good luck with your search!!

November 21, 2006 3:48 PM  
Blogger gina said...

I really feel a strong need to comment here. I love my street, love my neighbors and generally am thrilled with the Lincoln school area. I know lesbian couples, single adults with no children, married adults with no children, married adults with children and single household parents. I know homeowners and renters. I have found my neighborhood to be open minded from the older citizens to the younger families. I feel SO fortunate to have purchased a house in the neighborhood I did. I guess I am incredibly fortunate. I am not from Mt. Lebanon. Moving to the Pittsburgh area in 1990, I first lived in Mt. Washington then came here via Dormont. I actually never wanted to buy a house in Lebo for all the reasons previous bloggers have listed. Having children and working in the fields of mental health and education throughout Allegheny County, my decision reversed itself as did my spouse's. With the exception of living in a haunted house (long story) which has needed a lot of repairs, we have never regretted our decision.

November 21, 2006 6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DO NOT MOVE HERE!
Google Stepford if you want to know why...

November 21, 2006 10:01 PM  
Blogger Planet Art's Linda said...

Two cents, here goes... I think you will find no more and no less discrimination in Mt. Lebanon than you will find anywhere else in the country. I'm in the arts community (yes, Pittsburgh has a great one) and I have the pleasure of being around all sorts of folks. I haven't heard any of them complaining like this. I'm really surprised by the comments here.
I'm white, I'm straight, and I have kids, so what do I know.
There will always be certain people who are jerks or elitist, but you just gotta find it in yourself to say "who cares" --and this I do know something about 'cause I was a waitress for 13 years, talk about being looked down at.
There are great schools here, you can find affordable beautiful housing, you can walk to shops almost anywhere you live. It's cool.
There is actually a house across the street here on Park Entrance that's for sale, check it out. People on this street are very welcoming and it's a brick road which is real pretty :)

November 21, 2006 11:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There is definitely discrimination in Mt. Lebanon, it is just discreet. Unfortunately, I believe the most overt discrimination occurs in our schools. As any parent knows, children must be taught to be kind, compassionate, and to accept all people. Young children and teenagers discriminate against one another based on..." RACE, RELIGION, NATIONALITY. Specific examples? Overtly racist and ignorant comments such as "Why don't you go back to your own country!" or "Hey Chink!" Not to mention the alienation which foreign exchange students encounter from the Lebo kids on a daily basis. Where exactly are these kids getting their values from? Parents as well as teachers/school administrators need to stop turning the other cheek and face reality. How do we as a community stop perpetuating this cycle of ignorance?

November 22, 2006 12:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we all love this forum because we can complain here. We all like living in Lebo or we would move.

When I lived in other parts of the country (8 years), I did not hear 1 racist remark. Since I've been here, I've heard plenty. I was actually shocked how people I don't even know where talking like that in front of me. I'm not saying that people are racist. I'm just saying that maybe Pittsburgh is behind the times.

With that said, Lebo has great schools. I love my neighborhood, the neighbors, the trees, the kids, the views, the architecture (different on each house). I love how there isn't a Wal-Mart across the street (although I like the Wal Mart being 3 miles away) You take the good with the bad.

I think this particular posting has been a little too negative.

November 22, 2006 8:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It certainly is a very complicated society we live in today. My concern about a lesbian family in the neighborhood is explaining the situation to my young children.

November 23, 2006 10:29 PM  
Blogger gina said...

As far as explaining things to young chikdren, most young children don't ask for long complicated answers tho things. An example: "There are all different types of families in the world. Some families have a mommy and a daddy, some have just a dad, some have just a mom, some have 2 dads and some have 2 moms. Our family has a (fill in the blank) - our new neighbors have 2 mommies." Often this is as much as any small child can cognitively process- read Piaget for more info :-)

November 24, 2006 8:51 AM  
Blogger Mike Madison said...

Young children often figure things out on their own. A dozen years ago, my kids attended a preschool with a little girl who had two moms. Listening to conversations among the children at school, I learned that the other kids had concluded from this that the boys could marry other boys, and the girls could marry other girls.

November 24, 2006 10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re; the comment that he/she is concerned about explaining the situation to his/hers young children. You will, eventually, find out that your children understand this, and much more, long before you know.

November 24, 2006 11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have traditional values and am not comfortable telling my under 8 years old children that boys can marry boys and girls can marry girls.

November 25, 2006 9:49 PM  
Blogger Mike Madison said...

To Anonymous at 9:49 p.m. --

I never told my preschoolers that boys could marry boys or that girls could marry girls. They figured that out on their own.

November 25, 2006 10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The law does not allow for boys marrying boys and girls marrying girls so that is not something anyone would need to explain. If there are 2 women on a street raising a child, regardless of one's comfort level, it is what it is.

November 25, 2006 10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have to be realistic--there is prejudice EVERYWHERE. I moved to Lebo as a teen from a very rural/poor area. It took me a while to "fit" in, but I found GREAT friends and had a wonderful high school experience. After HS I moved away to work but I am now back here raising my family with my husband who is also from Lebo. Frankly this is an absolutely wonderful place to raise a child--and although there are people who are spolied and snotty and whatnot if you raise your kids like my parents raised me your kids will see through the BS and will find "true" people to associate with.

I should mention that I am still BEST friends with my Lebo HS friends and that at our 10 yr reunion this past weekend there were several people who were now "out" and they were excepted and respected without a doubt. I did not see ONE person shun any of them or their partners. Times are a changing--and I think the younger people here in this area are much more accepting of "differences."

Will there be people who are rude? yes...but that's going to happen anywhere.

There are plenty of nice, kind, accepting people here-- even without kids!!!

My daughter is young, but I would have no problem with her having a friend with 2 mommies! I love my neighbors and don't see any discrimination in my neighborhood at all. (I live in the Howe area)

Don't let all of these negative people scare you--as I learned putting together the reunion--those people who are just plain miserable and make no effort to be open to others usually are the ones complaining and usually are the ones who claim not to be accpeted! (they need to look in the mirror and ask themselves why people don't associate with them)

Good luck!

November 28, 2006 3:03 PM  
Anonymous RichW said...

I'm moved here from New England four years ago.

Generally I think Allegheny County has many more issues with insularity (using words cautiously here) than any of the other states where I've lived. Sometimes I'm not too sure people actually know on which side of the Mason-Dixon line Pittsburgh lies.

But I'm not sure this insularity extends to gays moreso than it would to any childless couple as has been mentioned several times already. I think the area is pretty tolerant in regards to being gay.

I do think the couple in question will likely be met with curiosity at first once they start their family, but likely nothing outwardly different than in any other larger suburb anywhere in the Northeast or MidAtlantic.

Heck, I get paranoid that many people don't trust me around here because I'm still a Jets fan.

November 28, 2006 9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in the Mt. Lebanon School system. I'm currently 26 and the oldest of four and my two youngest siblings are still in the Lebo school system.

I left Pittsburgh after graduating college and have lived in DC for about four years now. My partner and I (we are also lesbians) are looking into moving back so that we can be near my parents when we start our family.

We have thought about all the points brought up in this thread, and even though Mt. Lebanon is not perfect, we still think it's a great place to live.

Besides the more good-natured, open-minded people that move there, the better off we'll all be! Maybe we'll be neighbors :)

November 30, 2006 4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a straight white single woman who moved to Mt Lebo after a divorce because I knew it to be a "safe" neighborhood and I was feeling a bit fragile at the time. I lived there for 5 years and didn't ever feel that I fit in. Most everyone there is a mom/dad/2 kids family, predominantly white. I also concur about the money comments. I lived there for 5 years, then moved to the east end of the city, where I still happily reside. LOVE IT! There is no denying the great school district in Mt Lebo, though, nor its general beauty.

December 09, 2006 8:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My partner and I are relocating to Mt. Lebanon in the Spring. We chose the area primarily because of the schools. We have 2 children - one elementary and one middle school aged. As a lesbian couple these are all the things that we have worried about, so thank you for all your kind comments. However, in this blog alone there are at least 3 GLBTQ families going to Mt.lebo. we should connect now and when we get there, we have a support system that can help to alleviate whatever the challenges will be. This may be a new chapter in Mt. Lebo growth.
Please contact me at iw84no1_27@yahoo.com

December 15, 2006 1:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

appreciate everyone's comments. We are yet another two mommy family (with 4 very young children)considering Mt. Lebanon for our family. We recently met with a realtor in Mt. Lebanon who provided us with a copy of a city magazine. A featured article discussed a panel discussion on diversity issues and there was a lesbian mother who was one of the panel members.

December 17, 2006 4:16 AM  

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