Russia and its government officials made (anti-LGBT) news again this week when lawmaker Alexei Zhuravlev authored a bill that would ban gay parents from raising children. Citing the biblical stories of Sodom and Gommorah, Zhuravlev fanatically argued that children would be better off in orphanages than with gay parents.
As shocking as this proposed bill is, it's a sad reminder that this same sentiment continues to permeate U.S. discussions about LGBT rights.
As many may know, organizations such as the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) continue to claim that children with gay parents suffer severe emotional and mental abuse, even going so far as to argue that they are more likely to become child molesters than children raised by heterosexual parents. Given these outlandish and demonstrably false claims, it's unsurprising that NOM's statistics rely on "research" -- particularly the infamous Regnerus study -- and "facts" that have been found to be erroneous and egregiously misinterpreted, revealing NOM to be about as hysterical as Freud's Dora.
Since the debunking of these studies has been heavily documented elsewhere, I'll summarize by simply noting that sociologist Mark Regnerus admitted that he did not ask parents in the study about their sexual orientation, exposing his work's irrelevance to discussions about LGBT parenting. Yet because Regnerus continued to tout his research, I would argue that his work is nothing more than anti-LGBT junk with a few footnotes.
The fact of the matter is that children raised by gay parents fare just as well as children raised by heterosexual parents. In fact, recent LGBT parenting studies -- which continue to be released -- have found no correlation between parents' sexual orientation and the behavioral outcomes of their children. Children of gay parents are no more likely to "act out" or experience negative outcomes than children of straight parents, and they have been found to demonstrate the same traditionally masculine and feminine gender identities as their peers. (Although it's beyond the scope of this blog post, it's interesting to note how teens who don't demonstrate traditional gender identities are perceived to have negative outcomes.) What's more, teens of lesbian parents have been found to have higher academic scores and levels of self-esteem and confidence than teens raised by heterosexual parents.
Study co-author Nanette Gartrell suspects that teens raised by lesbian parents may fare better in certain areas because lesbian parents -- and feasibly gay male parents too -- may approach topics about diversity, bullying, and acceptance more readily than heterosexual parents. This environment of openness is thought to prepare the child more for dealing with stress, prejudice, and even bullying. According to Gartrell, "They are very involved in their children's lives, and that is a great recipe for healthy outcomes for children. Being present, having good communication, being there in their schools, finding out what is going on in their schools and various aspects of the children's lives is very, very important."
The fact of the matter is that more and more LGBT people are having children, and our world is all the better for it. At least 6 million U.S. residents have an LGBT parent, and these families are squashing the smoke and mirrors cooked up by NOM's Brian Brown and company.
Though my girlfriend and I aren't parents yet, we do know that children are in our future. And while I can't say for certain that hateful organizations such as NOM will be obsolete by then -- though I can hope -- I'm thankful for community-solidifying events like Colage's "Family Week" that work to unite and empower children of LGBT parents rather than tear them down. I'm thankful for the growing number of allies who continue to fight homophobia in the U.S. and abroad, and for those who continue to fight the good fight as the anti-LGBT industry continues to spin false tales.
Finally, I'm also thankful for NOM's hysteria and reliance on fallacious information. Why? Because NOM continues to sound just like The Simpsons character Helen Lovejoy, who constantly shrieks, "Won't somebody please think of the children?!" Like Helen Lovejoy, NOM and its statistics are nothing but a caricature of reality, and it's only a matter of time before the whole world knows it.