DEAR ABBY: I'm 14, starting my freshman year in high school and, of course, will be joining lots of clubs to prepare for college.
My best friend is gay, and when I asked her if she wanted to join any clubs together, she suggested the Gay-Straight Alliance club. As a saved Christian, I am unsure how to answer.
I believe Christians should treat homosexuals with kindness and respect. I believe also in same-sex marriage because of the legal protection it gives a couple. I respect my friend's decision, and I'm happy she's happy with her life. My family doesn't know how to respond either, though they have similar beliefs.
I am afraid if my church found out, they would dislike me for joining, as well as question where I really stand as a Christian. I feel conflicted about how to address both sides of my beliefs. Can you help? -- CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE IN KENTUCKY
DEAR CAUGHT: I, too, believe that Christians (and people of all faiths) should treat each other with kindness and respect, regardless of their sexual orientation. But somewhere you got the impression that sexual orientation is a choice. It isn't. Your friend's orientation was determined before she was born, just as yours was.
Wanting to support your friend by joining a Gay-Straight Alliance is a commendable thing to do, and it follows the Golden Rule. I can't see how a church that preaches love would object to that.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 24-year-old college graduate who has been unable to find a full-time teaching job, so I'm working as a teaching assistant. My salary is less than average, and between rent, bills and student loans, I am stretched more than thin.
Recently, a woman has been talking to me about nannying for her child after school. She'd like to hire me and have me meet her child in person, and we agreed on an hourly rate. I was excited about the opportunity and looking forward to starting.
This week she told me she wants to report my work for her on her taxes, which means I'll have to report as a freelancer and pay estimated quarterly taxes while I work for her. Abby, this is unheard of in the baby-sitting world! I have been baby-sitting from my preteens all the way through college, and never once have taxes ever been part of the conversation.
My mother says I shouldn't be upset because the woman is doing what she's supposed to as far as the IRS is concerned, but I feel shortchanged. Shouldn't she have been upfront about her intentions when we discussed my hourly rate? Am I wrong for asking her for more money per hour to make up for some of the taxes? -- AFTER-SCHOOL NANNY
DEAR NANNY: William R. Turner, CPA, says your mother is correct. Your prospective employer is obeying the law. She wants you to meet her child, negotiate an hourly rate and hire you as a nanny, not as a baby sitter. Your new employer should have you fill out a form W-4 and pay you as an employee. Because payroll deductions will be taken out of your gross pay by your new employer, you should negotiate your hourly rate accordingly.