Monday, January 14th, 2013
When I was a junior in high school in 1991, three students came out to me under a dark stairway after class. They wanted me to write their stories about being gay for the student newspaper. I did a sentimental and sympathetic piece, and we caused a scandal. The gay kids worried about their safety–and so did I. Half of the administrators reacted with support, and the other half with disdain. Many people preferred the don’t-ask-don’t-tell attitude that was status quo at that time.
The students, two gay boys and one bisexual girl, weren’t harassed any more than usual after the article was published. Back then, there was a Glee-like atmosphere among the student body about LGTB kids. A third of the student body considered them cool–novelties really. To the rest, gay teenagers were invisible or ridiculed. No one was slushied or thrown in a dumpster as far as I know. It was more likely for a gay kid to get a flying French fry to the back of the head in the cafeteria. Sometimes a group of manly guys would sing mean songs in the hallway causing riots of laughter.
When I read a new book that comes out tomorrow, Family Pride: What LGTB Families Should Know about Navigating Home, School and Safety in Their Neighborhoods, I got the feeling that things aren’t so different today. The subject is more out in the open–in the media and in person. Now, a big focus of the debate has turned to same-sex parenting, something that was kept secret in the ’90s if it happened at all. But LGTB parents and LGTB kids are still facing discrimination–and outright cries against them. They work hard to achieve their dreams of equality, fairness and inclusion. LGTB people are tired of getting the stink eye and listening to catty comments at PTA meetings and church services.
Prolific author Michael Shelton, a therapist, wrote this book to address LGTB parenting specifically, but he is also an expert on human sexuality for all ages. In Family Pride, he deftly explains school, health care, religious institutions and recreational opportunities for LGTB families. He’s done extensive research to provide facts, bust myths and give resources.
I love the last paragraph of his book, which is a must-have for LGTB parents and useful for parents of LGTB kids. He writes:
“It doesn’t matter that research has demonstrated that LGBT parents are just as competent as heterosexual parents and the outcomes for their children are positive. A tenacious, well-organized, well-funded, and well-connected minority continues to excoriate these families and vehemently fight their progress. LGBT families and their allies do not have the financial and political
muscle of their detractors, and their successes have often come on the coattails of progress for LGBTs in general. For example, the repeated calls for more research regarding the medical and mental health needs of LGBTs inevitably advance our knowledge of LGBT parents. Efforts to
increase the inclusiveness of religious institutions regarding LGBTs no doubt make these venues more approachable for LGBT families. Finally, the ongoing efforts at bullying prevention and intervention for all students cannot help but remedy the negative experiences encountered by children of LGBT parents. As acceptance of LGBTs grows, so too will the acceptance of LGBT parents and families, yet we have a long way to go.”