Monday, November 23, 2009

Kids, Coloring, and COLAGE

1) Kids!
For the past several years, Craig and I (and later, when he came into the picture, Kid) have been part of a research study on gay parents and their children. We had the honor of being among the token gay male couples included.

Abbie Goldberg recently published the results of her study in her new book, “Lesbian and Gay Parents and Their Children.”

In her book, she notes that accumulated research shows that children of same-sex parents are not markedly different from those of heterosexual parents. They have no increased incidence of psychiatric disorders, are just as popular at school, and have just as many friends.

While girls raised by lesbian mothers seem slightly more likely to have more sexual partners, and boys slightly more likely to have fewer, than those raised by heterosexual mothers, neither sex is more likely to suffer to identify as LGBT.

In fact, these children tend to be less conventional and more flexible when it comes to gender roles and assumptions than those raised in more traditional families.

Long story short, the kids are all right! The New York times has a nice article on this here.


2) Coloring!
According to the American Association of Pediatrics, there are 9 million children living in LGBT-headed families in the United States alone. As of the 2000 census, children with two moms or two dads lived in 96% of US counties (and 100% of NC counties).

(This doesn’t include children living with parents who identify as bisexual or transgender and live with a partner of the opposite sex, single parents, or non-custodial parents.)

Despite these numbers, very few children’s books are published which reflect the lives of children with LGBT parents. It’s entirely possible for children to go all the way through child care and twelve years of school without ever reading a story about a family like theirs, let alone seeing their family reflected in music, TV shows, or movies.

Most teachers want all children to be comfortable in their classrooms. Most parents want their children to grow up to be tolerant of all kinds of differences. Reading stories that represent all kinds of families helps all children to feel safe, acknowledged, and accepted.

Rainbow Rumpus offer a couple of free PDFs of coloring books for LGBT families.

They also offer parent and teacher guides for these books, as well as some good advice for talking with children about families.
  • Let children decide for themselves when and how much to share about their own families.
  • Read stories that show different family structures: single parents, divorced parents, married and unmarried parents, foster parents, adoptive parents, and extended families. Include stories about families with both heterosexual and LGBT parents.
  • Talk with children about the different kinds of families and point out the similarities as well as the differences. Let the conversation about families take place over time and in the natural context of children’s curiosity.
  • Don’t be afraid to use the words heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, as appropriate, to describe the adults in the stories. It’s important for children to hear these words used and defined as terms that may describe family members, because they will also almost certainly hear the words gay and lesbian used as insults by other children or adults.

3) COLAGE!
COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere) has announced their ART Project to highlight the experiences of people born through assisted reproductive technologies (ART), e.g., donor insemination.

Over the past 30 years the number of people born through these technologies to LGBT parents has steadily grown, yet let little, if any, work has been done to bring this community together or address the experiences of these youth and adults.

The first major effort of the ART Project is to conduct a national assessment of children of gay parents born through donor insemination. COLAGE is calling all youth born through donor insemination and their parents to take an online survey.

COLAGE will be using all the information to develop and debut new programs and resources to provide tools to talk about these families, spark open dialogues within families and communities about donor insemination, and equip both COLAGErs and parents to navigate schools and other institutions.

There are two surveys, one for COLAGErs born through donor insemination and one for their parents. Both the surveys will be available online between now and November 30th. Each survey will take between 15 and 20 minutes to complete. If you have any questions about surveys or the ART Project in general, please contact Jeff DeGroot, COLAGE Fellow at jeff@colage.org.

Survey for LGBTQ identified parents with a donor conceived child:
http://tinyurl.com/parentdisurvey

Survey for people born through donor insemination with a LGBTQ identified parent:
http://tinyurl.com/colagerdisurvey

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