The conception that lesbians and gay men may be parents is frequently perceived in today’s society as impossible or immoral. Gay men and lesbians are often viewed as excluded from having children because sexual reproduction is related to men and women only. My approach to this uniquely controversial topic of gay parenting will be that of attempting to analyze the Pro side first. Gays and lesbians are human too and who is to say that they don’t deserve equal rights in society. Society has to realize that the modern family has developed into many different forms in recent years in that the "nuclear family" is not necessarily the most common form anymore.
Then I will attempt to analyze the Con side which expresses the fact that two people of the same sex should not be raising and rearing children together. Many believe that if the couple is unable to produce children together, then they shouldn’t be raising them as parents. Children need a balance in their lives and different sexed parents can provide that balance efficiently. Each parent (mom or dad) socializes the child differently and the child needs to be introduced to both worlds.
I will then proceed to critique both sides on strengths and weaknesses, based on facts, studies, and my own opinion, and then draw some of my own conclusions on this controversial topic of Gay Parenting.
There is no valid reason for refusing to call lesbian and gay headed household families. They fall under every conceivable criterion for identifying families and the concept of a Family. "They are groups of coresident kin providing jointly through income-pooling for eachothers need of food and shelter. They socialize children, engage in emotional and physical support, and make up part of a larger kin network". (O’ Brien and Weir, 128).
There are also many homophobic ( the irrational fear or hatred of homosexuality or gay people, Biery 88) individuals in today’s society who are the main cause of negative stereotypes against lesbians and gay parents. These negative stereotypes all prove to be untrue and irrational, revealing that gay and lesbian parents could be equally as fit to straight parents.
The accusation that majority of gay men are child molesters has been rejected in that the overwhelming majority of child sexual abusers area heterosexual men, who abuse both boys and girls. The fear that children of lesbian and gay parents will become lesbian or gay is irrational in that studies show that the sexual orientation of the parents has no effect whatsoever on sexual orientation of youths. The concern that the children of gay and lesbian headed families will not develop so called appropriate gender identity or gender behaviour has been introduced. This was proved incorrect in that when comparing children of gay parents to children of straight parents, there was no significant
difference in these two areas. The last stereotype involving the fear that emotional damage will effect the child due to coping with the issue of having lesbian or gay parents. Once again this was proved to be false and the general psychological well being of children in gay and lesbian households matches that of children of heterosexual parent households. (O’ Brien and Weir, 129).
These common stereotypes heard frequently in today’s society have all been proved incorrect and ignorant. Therefore they illustrate that gay and lesbian parents are continually stereotyped against unfairly and unjustly. Lesbians and gay men are popularly and commonly thought of by society to have a negative influence on children. This places an enormous strain and great pressure on lesbian and gay headed families, which is totally unnecessary.
"When we assume male-headed nuclear families to be central units of kinship, and all alternative patterns to be extensions or exceptions, we accept as aspect of cultural hegemony instead of studying it. In the process, we miss the contested domain in which symbolic innovation may occur. Even continuity may be the result of innovation". (Weston, 145). This is a very powerful statement in that it reinforces the argument that lesbian and gay families are overlooked in society as even being a family unit .
Society must come to realize that every family, not just gay headed families, experience problems in their homes. An article which depicts some of the major problems that some single mothers experience is: Manhunts’ and Bingo Blabs’: Single mothers speak out-M. Little, p. 164-181. This article will assist one in realizing that some individuals will face some dilemmas and issues in life, but it is those issues and how a family deals with them effectively that will make them stronger as a family unit. Everyone deals with pressures of everyday life and it is those who learn by them that are prosperous.
With specific reference to child rearing, parents were told that problems arise in all homes, with all children, and at all ages, the interesting fact being that the problems do or do not arise but what method should be employed in dealing with them when they arise (Dickinson, 392). Problems in the home are inevitable, in all forms of families, and those who believe that one form of family will have more problems and issues than others will need to reassess their outlook to a more rational perception.
Society has to realize that it is not ones’ sexual preference that allows a family to grow and flourish, it is the efforts of the people who make up that family unit. A family is based on trust and love, and if that is what these gay and lesbians parents are providing for their children, then why not let them live as they want.
Many will argue that children of lesbian and gay parents do not grow up the "same" as children of heterosexual parents.
Concern usually revolves around the issue that the children will also grow up to become lesbian or gay themselves (Baker, 105).
In most cultures, children are raised to take on specific roles associated with their biological sex very early in life. Therefore, in most cases people maintain an identity of themselves in terms of gender (Blumenfeld and Raymond, 45). (This statement is expanded on in the Chapter of Socialization and gender roles in Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life).
Many also believe that children need parents of the opposite sex to find balance in their lives. Each heterosexual parent socializes their children differently and children need to view this difference for themselves.
An elaborate description of masculinity and fatherhood takes place in, "Fatherhood, Masculinity, and the Goodlife during Canada’s baby boom, 1945-1965, Robert Rutherdale. This article depicts how the dad of the nuclear family "had secured his family’s place in the consumer markets and recreational opportunities of a profoundly acquisitive period"(369). It depicts some activities which fathers endured with the son to ensure masculinity and machoness as the son matured into a man himself.
Children need to realize and witness how men and women deal with certain situations differently, they need to be informed of different situations that will occur to them throughout their lives (depending on their sex), and they need each of their parents at different times of their lives (example-and girl needs her mom at menarche and her dad to help her with her car). Some feel that if there is an imbalance then the child will never learn to identify with the one sex that is absent from their life. This issue of balance has never been proved to be true yet still remains an issue to some.
Another major issue facing gay parents is AIDS. " The fact that the epidemic was first identified in the early 1980’s in the gay male communities of North America." (Weeks, ch 1 p. 15-45). AID’s is known as the gay disease it has been studied and many feel that homosexuals are more prone and susceptible to contracting the disease than heterosexuals. Many feel that the children of gay parents are in increased danger due to the fact that AIDS is increasingly spreading and if their parent has it then they are at high risk to contracting it.
The Chapter, "HIV and the State of the Family" in the text "Transgressing Borders" (p. 19-33), clearly depicts the issues facing families, of all forms, in direct relation to AIDS. This may help some to realize the seriousness of this incurable disease. AIDSphobia is another issue discussed in this chapter. This is "strongly related to heterosexism and homophobia prejudicial attitudes and practices against lesbian and gay men . Individuals with antigay attitudes are far more likely than others to have irrational fears about HIV transmission (Sears and Adam, 27).
AIDS is a growing epidemic with no cure that affect millions. The seriousness of this disease is illustrated in " From Reproduction to HIV: Blurring Categories, Shifting Positions, Martin-256-269, in which individuals narrate stories of people living with AIDS and these individuals, while extremely sick and almost dying, experience abandonment, by family and friends, and discrimination.
A great portion of today’s society feel that children should not be exposed to this disease if it may be prevented. Therefore they attack these gay parents seeing that AIDS is the "gay" disease. Society has to realize that anyone may contract it and there is no one in the world that is immune to it. It is up to gay parents as well as straight parents to assure in preventing the contraction of this disease to any child. Also to protect themselves from contracting it, the loss of a parent is traumatizing to a child.
Another main issue against gay parenting is the concern of safety for their children. There is a concern that children of homosexuals will be harassed by their peers(Brooks, 362).
Many people in today’s society have a negative stereotypical attitude towards homosexuals. This influence is then passed onto their children in turn is then taken out on peers. This especially effects those who have gay parents. That child may be harassed at school, both mentally and physically, and teased constantly. This may then affect the child psychologically, emotionally, and physically, either then or later in life. Children have increasingly become more cruel with peers and this certainly does take its toll on the child being harassed, whether the effects are visible or not.
The child living with homosexual parents may not only be harassed for having gay parents, but also for being gay themselves. Many have the idea that children who grow up in a gay home become gay themselves. They believe this to be true in that the child learns the parents’ ways and want to be just like their role model, their parent.
People have to realize that in today’s society children tease one another for the oddest reasons, if there is not a reason to tease or gang up on someone, someone is sure to find or make up something just to have something to do.
In Conclusion, in analyzing all of the facts , both supporting and refuting the controversial topic of gay parenting, I fell that the stronger side proved to be that of supporting gay parenting. The information gathered on negative stereotypes against gay parenting proved to be incorrect and inconclusive. Much of the information refuting gay parenting was not based on concrete facts or studies. The issue of AIDS, safety, and gender identity are all issues that affect heterosexual headed families as often as homosexual headed families. It is how the family overcomes these issues that is important. If these families are successful this will create a closer and stronger family tie.
In evaluating the issue of gay parenting, one would find it difficult to gather information refuting the issue, majority of the information that I came across was supporting. One will notice that literature and attitudes have changed and are progressing when dealing with homosexuality. More and more individuals are beginning to accept or come to terms with this controversial topic.
Gay and lesbian parenting should be treated as any other parenting style would be treated. If they are willing and able to love and provide adequately for these children, then society should allow them to do just that. Evidence proves that there is no difference between a child from a gay parent family to a heterosexual parent family, and therefore there is no reason why these family units should be treated so differently
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