Monday, August 2, 2010

The Kids Really Are All Right

(Thanks to ENC Communication Intern Matthew McGibney.)

I’m going to start by admitting that I haven’t seen the new film The Kids Are All Right yet, though everyone keeps telling me I should. I’ve heard good and bad things about how it portrays lesbian couples and their children, but obviously I can’t yet pass a judgment on that.

Either way, I’m sure the film will start a dialogue about gay folks adopting kids, and start some fear-mongering from the radical right about how it (equal adoption rights, not Julianne Moore’s acting) is a threat to children. At the same time, the National Organization for Marriage is on its summer marriage inequality tour, doing its best to spread misinformation about gay couples.

So I thought it might be interesting to see what the, you know, facts are about gay adoption. Luckily for us, researchers at the University of Virginia recently released a new study on that very subject. So here’s the question: How do kids with gay parents compare to other kids? Is being gay a legitimate reason to deny a couple equal adoption rights?

I don’t think the answers will surprise you.

"We found that children adopted by lesbian and gay couples are thriving," said Charlotte J. Patterson, a leader of the study, to the Virginia-based News Reader. "Our results provide no justification for denying lesbian or gay prospective adoptive parents the opportunity to adopt children. With thousands of children in need of permanent homes in the United States alone, our findings suggest that outreach to lesbian and gay prospective adoptive parents might benefit children who are in need."

Let’s just hope those in-need children don’t live in Florida, Mississippi, or Utah, where it’s illegal for gay people to adopt.

The study found that approaches to parenting, parenting stress and the strength of the couple’s relationship had the biggest effect on the child’s well-being, irrespective of whether the parents were gay or not. In fact, the study found that the children of gay couples were just as well-adjusted as those adopted by straight couples.

This report joins a growing body of work on this subject, with studies like this one in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, saying that the 17-year-old daughters and sons of lesbian mothers turned out significantly better than the average 17-year-old.

The children of gay couples are not disadvantaged growing up, and we can point to solid, scientific studies to support that claim. Equal adoption is not a “historically unprecedented and unproven social experiment with our children,” as Glenn Stanton of Focus on the Family put it, but rather an option in the best interests of children.

If the choice for a foster child is no parents or gay parents, it’s a pretty easy decision for child-care workers to make. We need to remove state laws that take this choice away because of prejudice and lies.

And I need to get to the movies (sorry, Julianne, for making fun of your acting).

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