You may have seen the heart-wrenching letter from 10-year-old Sophia Bailey Klugh written to her self-professed hero, Barack Obama, as it went viral last week. After hearing Obama’s stance on marriage equality, Sophia took it upon herself to write a letter thanking the President for his position. Her family believed the power of her words might touch their friends on Facebook, but they never imagined the letter would actually land in the hands of the President. Well, the letter found Obama and he did one better than read it. He sent her a personal response.
Sophia’s sweet and honest style paints a picture of what it is like to be a child who doesn’t fit in.
…I just wanted to tell you I am so glad you agree two men can love each other because I have two dads and they love each other but kids at school think that it’s gross and weird…
It’s hard to ignore the impact political policy has on our children’s lives and self-esteem. Young Sophia found comfort in the President’s position even though she was being teased at school, but she was asking for more. She wanted to know how to deal with her classmates hurtful words.
After reading her letter I really hoped for a response, but it seemed impossible given her timing. The letter made the internet rounds just before election day and deep into coverage of the Hurricane Sandy aftermath. I wondered how Obama would encourage her to rise above her peers attacks. It turns out Sophia would get that advice after all. In a thoughtful personal response Obama reminded her that our differences don’t stand in the way of equality.
“You and I are blessed to live in a country where we are born equal no matter what we look like on the outside, where we grow up, or who our parents are,” Obama wrote. “A good rule is to treat others the way you hope they will treat you. Remind your friends at school about this rule if they say something that hurts your feelings.”
President Obama was clearly touched by Sophia’s words the way we all were. I can imagine a personal note from the President of the United States might help ease the concern that her fathers are in any way “gross or weird.” But it is still painful to consider the confusion she deals with as people openly reject the family she knows and loves. Obama reminds her she has all the necessary ingredients to make a happy home.
“You are very fortunate to have two parents who care deeply for you,” he told Sophia. “They are lucky to have such an exceptional daughter in you.”
Obama’s words reassure Sophia that in spite of feeling different, she is actually one of the lucky ones.