Writer: Raquel Stevens
Illustrator: Deanndra John
Arguments against same-sex marriage have broadened to statements that children with same-sex parents are disadvantaged. Studies have found these claims to be false, and the children of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community face problems due to close-minded people, not parenting techniques. Men in same-sex relationships spend more time with their children than men in heterosexual relationships, and LGBT parents are just as involved in their children’s school as heterosexual parents, if not more involved.
Homophobic harassment does occur, but it does not affect children any more than other bullying. Children will bully one another, whether it is about their two mums, their glasses or their love for mathematics. The problem is in how schools and parents deal with the comments. When adults in positions of authority, such as teachers or other children’s parents make homophobic remarks, discourage talking about their parent’s relationship or exclude their family, the impact can be adverse. The peers of the children and their parents make their lives better when they are more progressive and accepting of their lifestyle, and accommodate for it. It has been shown that the more allies the children of LGBT parents have, the better the child’s grades and the higher their attendance rate at school.
This also applies to the ways same-sex relationships are represented in the classroom. Heteronormativity is still quite prominent, where someone will ask about a child’s mum and dad, not about a parent or guardian. Assumptions are made often, like when parents who are older than the average parent are mistaken for grandparents. Heteronormative comments will be made less often as society becomes aware of the children with same-sex parents, consciously changing their language and thinking to accommodate for the minorities. Exposure to same-sex relationships is vital to removing assumptions of heterosexual relationships.
Parenting styles of those in same-sex relationships are more rounded and subvert gender roles. Because there are not expectations, like the mother cooking and cleaning while the father works, LGBT parents are able to adapt to take on all aspects of caregiving. Why is it assumed that men and women are so different that children will be disadvantaged if they do not have a mother and father figure? On average, children with two parents of the same gender have no more social or psychological issues than children with heterosexual parents. They are more likely to be more open-minded and encouraging of their children to also be less prejudiced, leading to them to be allies for gay rights.
Ways to ensure children with same-sex parents are not harmed by their parents’ sexual orientation and gender identity is to have specific training encouraging support from school faculty and to increase discussions in class about LGBT people and their history rather than omitting information. Policies put in place by schools explicitly mentioning harassment regarding sexual orientation as well as gender identity will help with tackling bullying, rather than turning a blind eye. Following the set procedures will be necessary to ensure that stigma is eliminated in schools, improving the children’s wellbeing.