Dana Rudolph

Prop 8: Our Children's Perspective

Filed By Dana Rudolph | February 23, 2009 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: California, LGBT families, parenting, prop8

If you're like me, you've read an awful lot about Prop 8. While you still want to spread the word to those who need education about it, you're probably getting a bit tired yourself of reading yet another article pro or con.

Read this one, though. It's by Amanda Young of Verde, a magazine produced by and for students at Palo Alto High School, and features the perspectives of several teen children of lesbian and gay parents. I especially like that Young features both some who have been raised by gay or lesbian parents since birth, as well as two brothers whose mother came out when the kids were in middle school—different experiences that aren't always both heard.

I've written before about the need to consider the impact of anti-LGBT legislation on the children of LGBT families, but Young gives us the perspectives of the children themselves, in a publication by and for teens. Good stuff.

A few additional observations after the jump:

Young quotes researcher Suzanne Johnson, a professor of psychology at Dowling College, who says, "The kids in openly gay and lesbian families will have a great social impact on gaining civil rights for gay and lesbian people. The children will be functional and healthy people who will show the world that their parents are equal to heterosexual parents."

I agree, but will also caution that we should not expect all of our children to become rainbow-flag-waving activists. Some will; some won't. This ties in to the whole pressure to be perfect that many LGBT parents feel and sometimes impose on our children. As I've written before:

We must take care, however, that our desire to set a good example doesn't mean we--and more so, our children--feel pressured to be perfect. Every parent at some point forgets to pack his or her child's school lunch. Every child experiences some emotional struggle or social misunderstanding. The key is to show that our families are like any others, skinned knees and all.

Fellow Projector Sara Whitman has written more recently of the same feeling, and Green Dads brought it up the other day in commenting on the recent Chicago Tribune article about lesbian and gay parents. (Steve Ralls posted about the Tribune article here at Bilerico; here's my take on it back at Mombian.) I don't think Young or Dowling would disagree with any of us; I just want to stress the point.

One slight correction to Young's article, though: She says, "However, no current studies have detailed the specific psychological consequences on children whose parents are barred from marriage by the law." The American Psychological Association has in fact recently released several studies looking at that exact issue. Here's the press release; here's a link to the Table of Contents for the special issue of Journal of Counseling Psychology that published the studies. I'll also point out the The New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission's final report, which cites the APA studies and adds testimony from additional children of lesbian and gay parents. Additionally, there's the latest research from the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (pdf), which looks, among other things, at the effect of homophobia on the children of lesbian parents.

The value of her article is less in the pointers to other research, though, and much more in the stories she relates. Go read, and pass it on.

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It's something Paige has struggled with sometimes. She's gone to functions galore, picketed, protested, gay prided and sat on panel discussions. She's only now 15 and has already done more for the Hoosier LGBT community than several adults combined.

But I always worried about how much of it was done to please us versus just because she wants to. It's a difficult line to walk - especially for the kid.