There have always been a lot of misconceptions surrounding the gay community. They are primarily what drives the prejudice that others have against those who are members of the community and those who support its growth and it’s individuals’ rights.
I know that I have run into these misconceptions time and time again, either when identifying myself as a child of gay parents or advocating for gay marriage, so I wanted to look at some research that would defeat them.
And boy does the research have a lot to say. I referenced this article in one of my recent posts but I wanted to go back and look more thoroughly at two of its points.
Misconception #1: Being gay makes you less capable of a parent.
This is one that I’ve heard several times argued in several ways. It derives from the belief that sexual orientation somehow has a negative effect on parental capability. Maggie Gallagher, an advocate against gay marriage and the former president of the National Organization for Marriage, describes marriage here as “our most basic social institution for protecting children.” As if gay parents will actually harm children. This has always baffled me. When you think of day-to-day parental responsibilities, which of them can be possibly influenced by that parent’s sexual orientation?
Gay Mommy: Look at the time, it’s already 8am! I guess I’ll drive Cindy to school now. Actually, ya know what? Screw that. I think that instead I’ll just take a huge needle of heroine, jam it into my arm, and get a swastika tattoo’ed on my backside. Yes I do believe that Cindy can wait because I have got better things to do.
I know that may be a bit of an exaggerated example, but to me this is what many arguments against gay marriage sound like and it’s just not true. Research shows that “sexual orientation is fundamentally irrelevant to a person’s capacity to be a good parent,” and that “love, stability, patience, and time to spend with a child are far more critical factors in being a good parent than a person’s gender or sexual orientation.”
And if that’s not good enough, Charlotte Patterson says it well in Lesbian and Gay Parenthood, “In all respects, lesbians and gay men have proved to be just as committed to the parental role and just as capable of being good parents as their heterosexual counterparts.”
Misconception #2: Children raised by gay parents will be gay themselves.
This is one of the arguments that makes my blood boil. Even without looking towards all of the research that proves this idiotic assumption to be wrong, I ask that everyone turn and look at me. I am not gay. My mom is gay, and she raised me as much as my father did. I repeat, I am not gay. I just want to make sure that is clear. Not that it even matters because my loving, committed family would support me no matter what. But I am not the exception in this respect, not even in the slightest. Research shows that “there is no evidence . . . to suggest that parents have a determining influence on the sexual orientation of their children.”
This misconception has always struck me as odd. There are so many characteristics of children that seem to be in no way influenced or decided by the reflected characteristics of their parents. Religious affiliation, political views, fashion sense, and so many more. Why is it that so many people think that gay parents will magically produce children of the same sexual orientation? No parent knows what their child is going to be like and no parent can make decisions for their child, no matter how hard they try.
When stripped down, this misconception is nothing more than an opinion and therefore should not be the basis of any convincing argument. If having gay parents necessarily made children gay themselves, that would mean that for every gay couple allowed to marry and have children, there would be more gay people in the world. The opinion that this misconception is based on is that this potential resultant increase in the gay population is undesirable or somehow bad.
I think you know how I feel about this opinion, but I must say that anyone who holds it also believes in allowing racism, sexism, etc. If one population is to be judged based on their sexual orientation, then so too can the rest of the world be judged by their race, creed, gender, and the like.
This is the way in which our people have realized prior discrimination and allowed for progress. We have realized that the misconceptions we held were flawed, and that what used to separate us no longer stands as grounds for separation.
Race no longer separates us.
Gender no longer separates us.
So why should sexual orientation?