Gays’ Kids Go To School

I had to pause when I came across an article this morning about the children of gay and lesbian parents starting school. Our son is a long way (well, maybe 4 years isn’t that long) from starting school. Still, I’m glad I came across it.

The nation’s schools, a historic battleground for social controversy, are wrestling with a variety of gay and lesbian issues. The latest: a wave of children with same-sex parents is reaching school age.

Nationwide, about 250,000 children have same-sex parents – a trend not limited to cities with large gay populations, according to census data culled by Gary Gates at the nonpartisan Urban Institute.

“The highest portions of same-sex couples with children are in the South,” said Gates. The reason: He surmises that gays who grew up in the conservative Sunbelt value family and want to start their own.

What struck me as interesting was the statement that the highest number of gay families is in the South. It surprised me because, being from the South, my experience has been that much of the region is rather homophobic. They don’t call it “the Bible Belt” for nothing. But maybe, just maybe, there are pockets of tolerance around the urban centers down South. (And, for the record, I’ve never considered the District of Columbia to be in any way southern, except perhaps for its weather.)

“It is amazing how inquisitive 5- and 6-year-olds can be when they are exposed to someone with two moms who are lesbians,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a conservative advocacy group. “This is a very good example of how homosexual marriage impacts other families.”

The thing is, i can’t tell how much of an impact we have as a family, when it comes to chlidren from other families. From relatives to families in our babysitting coop, we’ve been around lots of kids, and most don’t register much of an impact. Sometimes they ask why our son has two fathers, and usually I can tell that they’ve already asked they’re parents and want to compare our explanations to the answers they got from their moms and dads.

I remember one conversation with a little girl I was babysitting went like this:

“Where’s Parker?”

“He’s at home with his Papa?”

“His other daddy??

“Yes.”

“How come Parker has two Daddies?”

“Well, there are lots of different kinds of families. Some have a mommy and a daddy. But some have two mommies or two daddies, or even just one mommy or just one daddy. It’s kind of like ice cream. There’s lots of flavors, like vanilla or chocolate, but it’s all still ice cream.”

“You forgot strawberry ice cream.”

“Well, then, there’s strawberry ice cream too.”

“My birthday is coming up, and I’m going to have strawberry ice cream and vanilla cake.”

Among the trailblazers are Robin and Karen Abels, a Carrollton, Texas, couple of 26 years. When their first child, Ethan, was ready for school, they got ahead of any potential problems by meeting with school officials and teachers, sessions they repeat each year. Now, with Emmie, 5, starting kindergarten, they are repeating the process.

“We tell them, `We do not have a political agenda, but we want to introduce ourselves, because we are a nontraditional family,’ ” said Robin, 49, an occupational therapist.

Maybe it’s because I live in a fairly progressive area, here in D.C., and we’re looking at equally progressive or liberal areas for our next home, but I have this feeling that when our son is finally school-aged we probably won’t come up against that many problems. We haven’t thus far.

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5 Responses to Gays’ Kids Go To School

  1. DeAnn says:

    I know nothing, having never been to the South myself, but I have a friend in Atlanta who says there’s a rather thriving gay community. Is that true?

  2. mark says:

    The little girls response regarding two daddies, is classic. 🙂

  3. Ben Khan says:

    Gay families do have an impact on other families; it makes parents explain Life and differences to their children. That’s where I think where Gay families make an impact. Kids aren’t bothered with Parker having two daddies, as the little girl proved to you, but grown-ups are a different story.

    The difference I think came in the way you explained why Parker has two Dads, it was about different types of families. “Straight” parents thoughts may just go the the gay sex part, skip the family part and not know how to explain.

    Times are changing and Gays are becoming more and more visible and refused to be ignored. You can turn the television off when Gays are on asking for marriage rights, but how do you combat your child coming home asking the questions you try to avoid? Schools are teaching more diversity (as an earlier post of yours indicated) and this may cause a rift between what kids think is right versus their parents views.

  4. Joan says:

    Overheard today in my van-
    Owen- “blah blah blah my friend, Julian…blah blah”

    Eli, in best singsong-y pesty little brother voice- “Owen has a Girlfriend! Owen has a girlfriend!”

    Owen- “I do NOT, Julian is a BOY!”

    Eli- “Owen has a boyfriend! Owen has a boyfriend!!”

    Owen, indignant- “There is NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT!!”

    (ok, granted, Owen went on to explain that Julian was his pal, and not a romantic interest, but he did tell Eli rather firmly that it was ok for boys to be friends!) So, bby steps, well teach this next generation better than our parents were taught.

  5. Tim Who? says:

    One of the reasons I love children is they are naturally accepting. It’s not till the parents poison their minds that they begin to hate.

    My young niece looked at me and said, are you and Gary dating? Yes we are. Uh…OK… can we go to the movies?
    Sure why not, ask your mother.

    Trama? What trama? It took her about 3 seconds and she understood it perfectly. If only adults could act so “childish”.

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