A Prophecy of The Effects of Gender-Fluidity (original essay written April 2014)

Written for a client April 2014

“Children of LGBTQ Parents: Normalization and Assimilation”

In these more modern and, some say, more “tolerant” times, The Gay Agenda has quickly normalized and sanitized perceptions of Same-Sex relationships in general and same-sex parenthood in particular. What some would call a glorification of postmodern alternatives to the pre-WWII era “nuclear family,” some would call a perversion of traditional family unit structure and values (Becker, p8). Michael E Lamb, editor of Parenting and Child Development in “Nontraditional” Families notes in his introduction that it would indeed benefit society as a whole “ to discuss in depth the ways in which various “deviations” from traditional family styles affect childrearing practices and child development (Lamb, xiii)” The fact that recently gay marriage is more widely accepted and gay rights more explicitly defended, has perhaps made it “easier” for children of same sex parents to feel “normal”—or does it give them a certain sense of still being deprived of stable gendered role models, or still being “Other-ed” or stigmatized by children of heterosexuals?  Proper child socialization and identity formation/establishment is often shaped by the parents—are children of same sex parents disadvantaged in a way by circumvented or inverted gender presentations; are children of same sex parents confused by lack of standard masculine-feminine identification and is that “confusion” in fact liberating as a condemnation of making oneself a stereotype, a condemnation of “labeling” or “gender policing”? Perhaps it can be proven that a child’s development of his/her own sexuality and self-identification in the face of disapproving, bullying, or simply unsympathetic peers is not necessarily affected by parent’s sexual orientation.

In these cosmopolitan, gay-friendly times, the Western world seeks in many ways to re-define and outline concepts of family and gender. In the post-Clinton-Lewinski-Scandal era of American sexual politics, in the post-Scandal era wherein America’s sordid history of slavery and miscegenation is remixed and upgraded to place Sally Hemmings as Olivia Pope in a designer suit and “white hat”, in the era in which the nation confronted, horrified, its behind-curtains Catholic Pedophilia glorification, new ideas about relationship dynamics and taboos arise just as dramatically as the recent spikes in divorce and adoption rates. In this exciting and unsettling New Age, many discover families are dramatically reconfigured. Through gradual standardization of homosexual portrayals in the media, many American citizens, liberal and conservative, question Ideals among hetero- and homosexual families of what’s considered “proper” or “traditional” in the family unit organization and/or presentation of gender roles, including masculine and feminine presentations of caretaking and employment responsibilities, as applicable (Opposing Viewpoints, p1). In the face of the question of whether gay parents appropriately raise well-adjusted, properly socialized, healthy, intelligent, and confident children, there are several opposing arguments presented. Among potential oppositional perspectives are: how children may feel isolated or ostracized for parents’ orientation (National Review); how witnessing homosexual displays of affection and/or sexual activity may be believed to cause children to experiences warping of gender identification; and whether or not a child’s proclivity towards homosexual desires/presentation can absolutely be attributed to direct imitation or emulation of a homosexual parent. These questions can perhaps be placed in a clearer context by exploring how the traditional family structure in America has changed, as well as how drastically and quickly changed has been the perspectives on Gay Marriage and Gay Parenting in the American collective.

The 20th and 21st centuries have been the most rapidly evolving in human history, with trends in arts, religion, fashion, and even human thought changing ever more fleetingly with each six months. The dawning of the 21st century especially has illuminated severe deviations from the traditional “nuclear family” structure, starting with (and blame attributed to) not only the institution of gay marriage, but even heterosexual families’ households changed drastically with the country’s post WWII high morale expansion and suburbanization-modernization, as well as post-1960s Women’s Liberation and the so-called Sexual Revolution. An article appearing in The American Family illustrates thus:

The economic prosperity following World War II enabled many American families to pursue what was perceived to be a better life in the wide-open spaces of the outlying, newly developing suburbs. The ties that bound the nuclear family, the extended family, and the ethnic neighborhood—all of which existed before the war—were loosened. (Becker, p1)

The thoroughly researched report went on including explanations for the formation of new dynamics including: increased occurrences of divorce leading to split and mixed families, the advent of the acceptable “stepchildren” as a normal reflection of broken vows, incidences of struggling retiree grandparents raising grandchildren, adoptions, and interracial marriages. All this in mind, it would seem evident the American Family Ideal was already becoming more inclusive, more fluid—or, some would say, the Standard was more corrupted—well before the political debates about laws governing same sex relations began.

With the definitions of family more elusive, and the definitions of “love” more broad, one may begin to wonder in extremes whether or not in the near future there will be advocates this zealous arguing for the acceptance and normalization of Pedophilic marriages. Edward Alexander, writing for The Weekly Standard surmised:

The triumphant campaign for gay marriage (and gay adoption) had swept all before it, once Vice President Biden forced President Obama to accelerate his “evolution” from the traditional (for most of human history) understanding of marriage as a heterosexual institution to endorsement of same-sex unions. The campaign had been conducted on the lowest possible intellectual level, i.e., that of “equal rights” for all people who love each other. But do any two heterosexual people in love have a “right” to marry? Suppose one of them is already married? Suppose one of them is the child of the other? (Alexander, p1)

In light of the question of whether same sex offspring are really living a life that’s best for them, the full article from “Gay Parenting” in Opposing Viewpoints in Context quotes extensively:

Those who oppose the idea of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people having and raising children argue that the traditional family structure serves as the basis for society, and without it, society as a whole will deteriorate and suffer. Collette Caprara in a Heritage Foundation blog entry, entitled “Reinventing the Family: Good Intentions Are Not Enough,” on October 24, 2011, writes, “Youths growing up with both a mother and father in the home are also less likely to engage in high-risk behaviors such as becoming sexually active or engaging in substance abuse and less likely to exhibit antisocial behavior. In addition, teens in intact families tend to fare better on a range of emotional and psychological outcomes and to have higher levels of academic achievement and educational attainment. With an apparent disregard for the social and economic consequences to children, the rise of experimental family forms and the ‘commissioning’ of babies may be the ultimate expression of the commodification of children—when offspring are conceived for the gratification of adults who have yet to grow up.” (Opposing Viewpoints, p2)

           Harsh as some of Caprara’s assessments may have presumably been, it is imperative that, politics aside, more scrutiny be given as to whether such alternate family, marriage, and relationship paradigms are truly best for children instead of just abstract concepts, untried, used as cannon fodder for vain political rhetoric and philosophical fascination with the taboo. Frustrated by the lack of truly thorough research on the effects of gay parenting on children, Mark Regnerus of University of Texas took it upon himself to conduct a larger, wider, more inclusive and representative study (The Wilson Quarterly) with samples of adults who had grown up with gay or lesbian parents and had come of age before gay marriage was even legal. His findings showed that children who had reached of adult age after being raised by gay or lesbian parents were more likely to need public assistance as an adult, more likely to face unemployment, more likely to experience depression and, thus, more likely with such symptoms to engage in drug use.

“If same-sex parents are able to raise children with no differences” from children raised by their married biological parents, Regnerus writes, “it would mean that same-sex couples are able to do something that heterosexual couples in step parenting, adoptive and cohabitating contexts have themselves not been able to do–replicate the optimal child-rearing environment of married, biological-parent homes.” (The Wilson Quarterly, p1)

Contrary to Regnerus’ findings, however, in a case of what could be skewed data and biased agenda pushing, a report published in Gay Parenting and Daily Hampshire Gazette on a study conducted by Abbie Gouldberg concludes there are no higher rates of depression or maladjustment among children of gay parents. The Clark University Professor Gouldberg asserts cheerfully that children are much better off because they were taught by their “more tolerant” gay parents to be “more open to same-sex relationships” and are “not as gender stereotyped “ as their heterosexual, more conformist peers (Wilson, p4). She also makes the connection that because of this open-mindedness and their parents’ tolerance, children of same sex parents feel more supported and thus more confident in life, translating to seemingly  more successful children, especially “girls (of lesbian parents) are more likely to have higher career aspirations (4).” Whatever the presumed benefits of higher career aspirations, Gouldberg’s happy assumption does not explain the results of Regnerus’ study implicating gay parenting as a key commonality among depressed, drug addicted, and unemployed adults of a far more inclusive and representative sample, including Blacks and Hispanics, than Amy Gouldberg’s own sample. Indeed, whose perception is more “open-minded?” 

It is not only wisely conscientious, it is indeed perceptively healthy to question the long term potential negative emotional and psychological effects—rather than the applauding of financial upward mobility in skewed studies of the gay demographic in the corporate workforce (Fetto, Experian Marketing Services) found in society’s sheep-like, fanatical, gay marriage bandwagon. Some gay parents themselves have acknowledged the subversive ulterior motives about the mainstream Gay Agenda and its potential damages, saying “I fear the same that the perversion of genuine love will be met with illusion and we will see way more mess coming (Personal Interview April 26, 2014).” 

It is imperative to question the future potential of other taboos (incest, pedophilia, polygamy, etc) being made legally acceptable by the Law of Man instead of the moral Law of God or Nature. These concepts in mind, it is worth a thorough read of Edward Alexander’s enlightening summation:

[In 1869, Matthew Arnold] Arnold singled out for relentless mockery liberalism’s obsessive campaign to change England’s marriage laws so as “to give a man leave to marry his deceased wife’s sister,” that is, to eliminate the longstanding English taboo on in-law marriage. Defenders of the taboo claimed that Leviticus forbade such marriages. Liberals said Leviticus did no such thing and therefore “man’s law, the law of liberty, … makes us free to marry our deceased wife’s sister.” But Arnold’s objection to the liberal position had nothing to do with Leviticus–“the voice of an Oriental and polygamous nation.” Rather, it expressed his sense of the sacredness of marriage and the customs that regulate it as the delicately woven fabric of civilization, a barrier against the promiscuity of primitive life, against “anarchy.” Such barriers are laborious to create, easy to unravel. England’s 65-year battle over this taboo, viewed from the perspective of our own recent reversal of the laws (to say nothing of ancient custom) regarding marriage, reverses Marx’s famous saying about history repeating itself, the first time as tragedy, the second as farce. But there is an eerie resemblance to the present that is worth noting. Arnold mocked Victorian liberalism’s obsession with the “right” to marry one’s deceased wife’s sister as the perfect example of its Philistine “double craving” because it combined “the craving for forbidden fruit and the craving for legality.” (Joe Biden, whatever his shortcomings, grasped this combination instinctively; and it is thanks in large part to him that a future book of presidential history may well be entitled Legalizing Forbidden Fruit: The Age of Obama.) (Alexander, p2)

 Speaking of “Forbidden Fruit” it is perhaps apropos to recall the age-old anti-gay slogan: “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” and, from there, to consider the issue of gender presentation in same sex households and the effects of such on a child’s own social-sexual development.

            In traditional heterosexual households, it is often accepted that Mommy, the feminine principle, presents as soft, often accommodating, sensitive, affectionate, and fulfilling role of cook, cleaner, and [patient] child provider; alternatively, Daddy, the masculine principle, presents often as stern disciplinarian yet wise advisor, brash and direct in speech, and hard working. In hetero- and homo-sexual homes, how are these masculine and feminine roles or stereotypes maintained or disassembled? In same sex families, how, if at all, does the child identify “mommy” and “daddy” or which mommy/daddy is regarded as the worker/provider and which is regarded as the caretaker/nurturer? “[S]exuality is an important aspect of gay relationships,” Virginia Casper writes in Gay Parents/Straight Schools, “But for many straight Americans, it is the defining one. Asked to imagine a gay-headed family on a Saturday morning, many Americans would not be likely to conjure up images of laundry and chores (Casper, 22).” Abbie Gouldberg seems to like the idea of the gay household model creating more open-minded individuals (Wilson, p.4) who perhaps can be said to be “beyond gender” (such as the incredulous pretention that today’s Americans live in a “post-racist” society) because “gay parents…encourage a girl to play with both dolls and trucks” or introducing gender neutral toys and games (Caldera, et al.), and, like Angelina Jolie’s gender-bending Shiloh, these ungendered children are supposedly more“Independent (Wilson, p.4).”

            Another issue of note inevitably to surface in any growing family household is the issue of Sexual Curiosity. Children are often influenced initially in sexual development by the sexual portrayals in their own household (Bering)—which is of course not to say children are witnessing explicit sexual activity—and even displays of affection between parents; mild expressions of desire and/or flirtations still shape how children feel they are as adults to approach and conduct themselves with the opposite sex. In modern times, some may argue children no longer base their interaction on opposite sex by heterosexual parents’ interaction: now, it seems to be a free for all as children now more likely have to discern organically, spontaneously, how they will interact with a person of same or opposite sex, with no set example of etiquette. Studies (Pick) have shown sexual proclivities, kinks, and/or fetishes are undeniably shaped by childhood memories and parental impressions (Darling)—does this prove that children of gay parents are more inclined to fetishize or otherwise find desirable, elements of homosexual eroticism, including but not limited to aspects of homosexual foreplay including sex toys? One must wonder if this is an unintended and imperceptible side effect (that perhaps Ms. Gouldberg did not anticipate in her “cars and dolls” encouragement) of this Aeon’s debauched permission of a “right” granted without consideration of its potential damage. Again, if in another 50 years Presidents are granting rights to pedophiles to legally seduce and/or marry children, without seriously contemplating the gruesome possibilities and mental instability from which could be wrought, it is worth considering if that too would be considered a positive progression of America’s “heroic tolerance”, ironic in its polarity to the arguably (to today’s standards) “close-minded” and “oppressive” Puritan values this nation was first purportedly founded upon.           

Often children of hetero or homosexual parents, for whatever reasons including bullying and/or peer pressure, do not want to identify with their parents and, as a personal revolution or liberation, present themselves in ways as different from their parents as possible. Could this include children of homosexual parents who deliberately and resentfully present themselves as heterosexual (even to some extremes of denying their own latent homosexual desires) out of shame for homosexual parents’ stigmatism in society at large? Children also obviously mimic their parents, finding the parental example set before them, regardless of society at large, as the Ideal they should aspire to. Could children of homosexual parents feel, especially in early stages of development, that homosexual relationships are indeed the “norm,” the “majority” or even the only way relationships are supposed to be, just as undoubtedly heterosexual parents’ children have felt it is the “only way?” Again, Ms. Gouldberg feels the opposite:

Q: Does any of the research show the opposite—that some kids of same-sex parents want to be anything but gay, not because they don’t love their parents, but because they’ve been dealing with “difference” all their lives?

A: That is exactly what I found. These kids are tired of defending their families and they’re very aware that their parents feel this pressure to produce straight kids. They’re so aware, growing up in the lens of media scrutiny, they feel they need to say, if I feel like screaming at my mom, it has nothing to do with the fact that she’s gay! (Wilson, p 4)

Conclusively, children may be faced with peer dissatisfaction or bullying for homosexual parents, however, it has been demonstrated through evidence presented in the paper, that although same sex relations are becoming more widely accepted, children of gays and lesbians do not necessarily identify as homosexual in any larger rates than children of heterosexuals. Furthermore, it seems time can only tell as in the next generation or two will the long term psychological effects be fully realized, the consequences of the “open” perceptions of this modern, “post-racist,” post-gender”, “post-homophobia” society. Like Pandora’s Box[1], like the “broad…way to Hell”[2], maybe there is such a thing as “too open.”

Works Cited

Alexander, Edward. “Liberal Dogmatism; How a far-out idea becomes orthodox.” TheWeekly Standard 12 Aug. 2013. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 25 Apr.2014.
Becker, Cynthia S., Ed., “Changing Family Patterns.” The American FamilyReflecting a Changing Nation. 2005 ed. Detroit: Gale, 2005. Information Plus Reference Series. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 25 Apr. 2014.
Caldera, Yvonne M.; Huston, Aletha C.; O’Brien, Marion; “Social Interactions and Play Patterns of Parents and Toddlers with Feminine, Masculine, and Neutral Toys”. Child Development, Vol. 60, No.1 (Feb 1989), pp 70-76, Published by Wiley Online on behalf of  Society For Research in Child Development Web reprint http://www.jstor.org/stable/1131072
Casper, Virginia, and Steven B. Schultz. Gay parents/straight schools: Building communication and trust. Teachers College Press, 1999.
Darling, Carol A., and Mary W. Hicks. “Parental influence on adolescent sexuality: Implications for parents as educators.” Journal of Youth and Adolescence 11.3 (1982): 231-245.
John Fetto, for Experian Marketing Services reports “A look at household income and discretionary spending of lesbian, gay, and heterosexual Americans” http://www.experian.com/blogs/marketing-forward/2012/07/20/sim-a-look-at-household-income-and-discretionary-spend-of-lesbian-gay-and-heterosexual-americans/
“Gay Parenting.” Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection. Detroit: Gale, 2013.Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 25 Apr. 2014.

Goldberg, Abbie E. Lesbian and gay parents and their children: Research on the family life cycle. American Psychological Association, 2010.

Lamb, Michael E. Parenting and child development in” nontraditional” families. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers, 1999.

“Looking at the research on gay parenting, Mark Regnerus noticed that the samplesof most studies were small and unrepresentative, so he collected a sample thatwas random and large.” National Review 16 Dec. 2013: 12. Opposing Viewpointsin Context. Web. 25 Apr. 2014

Pick, Susan, and Patricia Andrade Palos. “Impact of the family on the sex lives of adolescents.” Adolescence 30.119 (1995): 667-675.

“The gay parent report card.” The Wilson Quarterly 36.4 (2012). OpposingViewpoints in Context. Web. 25 Apr. 2014.

Wilson, Suzanne. “Children of Lesbian and Gay Parents Are Not More Likely to HaveProblems.” Gay Parenting. Ed. Beth Rosenthal. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2013.

Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from “A Conversation with Psychologist AbbieGoldberg: What Studies Show About Gay/Lesbian Parenting.” Daily HampshireGazette 22 July 2009. 

Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 25 Apr. 2014.

Works Consulted

Bos, Henny, Loes van Gelderen, and Nanette Gartrell. “Lesbian and Heterosexual Two-Parent Families: Adolescent–Parent Relationship Quality and Adolescent Well-Being.” Journal of Child and Family Studies (2014): 1-16. Web reprint. < http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10826-014-9913-8#page-1 >Web Search 4 Apr 2014

Brown, Sarah S. “Popular Opinion on Homosexuality: The Shared Moral Language of Opposing Views.”Sociological Inquiry. 70.4 (2000): 446-61. Web Reprint. < http://www.dallasvoice.com/gay-and-lesbian-parents-teaching-kids-its-ok-to-be-different-1013572.html > Web Search. 4 Apr. 2014.

Cahill, Sean, Mitra Ellen, and Sarah Tobias. “Family Policy: Issues Affecting Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Families.” New York: The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute, 2002. ngltf.org. Web. 4 Apr. 2014.

Family Equality Council and Center for American Progress. United States. National Association of Social Workers. Strengthening Economic Security for Children Living in LGBTQ Families. Denver, CO: Movement Advancement Project, 2012. Web. . Web Search 4 Apr 2014

Fitzgerald, Bridget. “Children of lesbian and gay parents: A review of the literature.” Marriage & Family Review 29.1 (1999): 57-75.Web Reprint. < http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1300/J002v29n01_05#.U0JwyahdXZU > Web Search. 4 Apr. 2014

Gantz, Joe. Whose Child Cries: Children of Gay Parents Talk about their Lives. Rolling Hills Estates, CA: Jalmar Press, 1983. Print. The American College of Pediatricians. “Homosexual Parenting: Is It Time for Change?” acpeds.org. Mar 26 2009. Web. 4 Apr 2014 .

Gates, Gary J. “LGBT Parenting in the United States” The Williams Institute. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA School of Law, 2013. Web. < http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/LGBT-Parenting.pdf >   Web Search. 4 Apr. 2014

Golombok, Susan, and Fiona Tasker. “Do parents influence the sexual orientation of their children? Findings from a longitudinal study of lesbian families.” Developmental psychology 32.1 (1996): 3.

Kosciw, Joseph G., and Elizabeth M. Diaz. Involved, Invisible, Ignored: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents and Their Children in Our Nation’s K-12 Schools. Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). 121 West 27th Street Suite 804, New York, NY 10001, 2008. Web. <http://www.familyequality.org/_asset/5n43xf/familiesandschools.pdf > Web Search. 4 Apr. 2014

Lewin, Ellen . “Embracing Consumption: Making Sense of Gay Fathers’ Strategies for Becoming Parents.” The Austin Summit on LGBT Families . University of Texas. Austin, Texas. 26 Apr 2013. Reading. Departments of Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies, and Anthropology. Iowa: University of Iowa, 2013. Web. < http://www.utexas.edu/cola/depts/sociology/_files/pdfs/lewin.pdf > Web Search. 4 Apr. 2014

Marks, Loren. “Same-sex parenting and children’s outcomes: A closer examination of the American psychological association’s brief on lesbian and gay parenting.” Social Science Research 41 (2012): 735-751. Web Reprint. < http://www.baylorisr.org/wp-content/uploads/Marks.pdf >Web Search. 4 Apr. 2014

Pluhar*, Erika I., and Peter Kuriloff. “What really matters in family communication about sexuality? A qualitative analysis of affect and style among African American mothers and adolescent daughters.” Sex Education4.3 (2004): 303-321.

Pick, Susan, and Patricia Andrade Palos. “Impact of the family on the sex lives of adolescents.” Adolescence 30.119 (1995): 667-675.

Walker*, Joy. “Parents and sex education—looking beyond ‘the birds and the bees’.” Sex Education 4.3 (2004): 239-254.

[1] The Greek myth of Pandora’s Box explained at length here http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/grecoromanmyth1/a/050410Pandora_and_her_box_or_pithos.htm

[2] Matthew 7:13

[3] A concept referring to “dysfunctional sexuality” or a luminal, undefinable and fluid sexuality or asexuality. Indication to its meaning here http://www.asexuality.org/en/topic/28522-introduction-and-question-on-asexuality/

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Gloria Steele is a mother, Oracular channel, Genius, Lit-geek, screenwriter, and fertility health counselor, passionate about healing through the power of the Word, integrating spirituality, sexuality, and art. With acute aptitude for interpreting the spiritual, mythological, or symbolic in literature, film, media, and pop culture, Gloria Steele loves raising the Collective Feminine Consciousness by teaching herbal self-healing and engaging in socio-sexual-political discourse concerning representations of women in modern mass media and how these images inherit, perpetuate, challenge, or refute ancient ideas and representations of women, particularly in religious iconography, mythology, and ritual. A prolific researcher and academic ghostwriter of award-winning thesis papers and dissertations, she has also created, curated, and contributed to several blogs, including The Gorgeous Girls' Guide and Examiner. Taught to read by age 2, writing since 5, published poet at 11, Gloria Steele is ambitious about returning the artistry, glory and glorification to dedicated literary Craft and Scholarship. While not writing, Gloria Steele enjoys Ecstatic Dance, cooking, and travel. Authored, Edited, and Self-Published books available at https://www.lulu.com/spotlight/egbebunmi/ Some Publications & Features: “Diodachi” featured in Enheduanna: A Pagan Literary Journal October 2016 Samhain Edition (forthcoming), published by The Salt Lake Pagan Society “Wombyn, Womb-In”, "Love Letter to Veludo" Published in The Dark Ones Anthology published by Bibliotheca Alexandrina (forthcoming) “temptress blamed, woman scorned", and "Ofo Ase" Published in Garland of the Goddess Anthology published by Bibliotheca Alexandrina (forthcoming) “Odinnson” featured in An Eternal Haunted Summer ezine Winter Solstice 2016 edition (forthcoming) published by Asphodel Press “GodMaker” and “Delicious Culpability” featured in Poems To F*ck To, Poetry In Motion Publishing, LLC February 2015

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