My son is six and a half years old. He’s been potty trained with nary an accident since exactly his third birthday.
Last week, in his first grade classroom, he peed his pants. He sat in his urine until the dismissal bell rang. His pants were soaked and cold when he got out of school. He was uncomfortable and he smelled. He didn’t want anybody to know. It was his secret.
He started crying in the car.
“I’m so ashamed of myself,” he said over and over again. Tears rolled down his face, even though he willed them not to. He couldn’t hold them back.
Come to find out, my son — with his long auburn hair, pink and purple fitted clothes, feminine backpack and wrist full of rainbow-colored loom bracelets – is terrified to use the boys’ bathroom at school.
On his first visit to the boys’ bathroom, he headed straight for the safety of the stall. Boys started peeking through the cracks in the stall to see if he was going pee or poop. Pooping at school is an embarrassment. He avoided the bathroom for as long as he could. The next time he had to go, he, again, walked straight to the stall. He locked the door behind him. He lifted the toilet seat lid and unzipped his pants. He could hear them talking. He could hear them looking. He turned around. Boys were peeking through cracks again. This time they were trying to see his genitals. They wanted to know if my son has a penis or a vagina.
My son refuses to go into the boys’ bathroom again. He has stopped drinking his juice boxes at lunch. He refuses to drink anything at breakfast. He’ll do anything to not have to use the boys’ bathroom at school. He’ll do anything to avoid having strangers look at his private parts while taking bets as to what they’ll see when they get to see something.
I’m sure you can understand why my son is not comfortable using the boys’ restroom at school. He wouldn’t be comfortable using the girls’ restroom either. Because he identifies as male, the girls’ bathroom doesn’t feel like the place for him.
I recently discovered that my son, who is 17, is a homosexual.
We are part of a church group and I fear that if people in that group find out they will make fun of me for having a gay child.
He won’t listen to reason, and he will not stop being gay. I feel as if he is doing this just to get back at me for forgetting his birthday for the past three years - I have a busy work schedule.
Please help him make the right choice in life by not being gay. He won’t listen to me, so maybe he will listen to you.
- Feeling Betrayed
You could teach your son an important lesson by changing your sexuality to show him how easy it is.
Try it for the next year or so: Stop being a heterosexual to demonstrate to your son that a person’s sexuality is a matter of choice – to be dictated by one’s parents, the parents’ church and social pressure.
I assume that my suggestion will evoke a reaction that your sexuality is at the core of who you are. The same is true for your son. He has a right to be accepted by his parents for being exactly who he is.
When you ‘forget’ a child’s birthday, you are basically negating him as a person. It is as if your saying that you have forgotten his presence in the world. How very sad for him.
Pressuring your son to change his sexuality is wrong.
If you cannot learn to accept him as he is, it might be safest for him to live elsewhere.
A group that could help you and your family figure out how to navigate this is PFLAG.org. This organization is founded for parents, families, friends and allies of LGBT people, and has helped countless families through this challenge. Please research and connect with a local chapter.
A new report from KDAF - Dallas highlights the problem of LGBT youth homelessness in this country and specifically in the North Texas Area. Doug Magditch digs into the issue and reveals that combating homelessness among LGBT youth often times proves challenging because homeless LGBT youth are not counted, making it difficult to adequately assess and address the scope of the problem:
One out of every twenty people in the United States identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Among the homeless youth population, it’s two out of five. According to a study published in September called “Serving Our Youth,” Forty percent of homeless youth are LGBT. The biggest reason: family rejection. Many LGBT youth say they either ran away because their family didn’t approve of them being LGBT (46%), or their family forced them to leave (43%).
There are no numbers on how many homeless youth in North Texas identify as LGBT. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) doesn’t require municipalities count LGBT as a specific demographic in the annual point-in-time homeless count. So, we aren’t counting.
A woman who took her same-sex partner to the hospital is being refused the right to visit her by a Catholic hospital in Indiana. Sarah Bray reportedly took her partner, whose name is being withheld, to Franciscan St. Francis Health-Indianapolis after finding her unconscious on the bathroom floor.
After admitting her, Bray, who is 34, called her partner’s mother. Upon arrival, the mother demanded the hospital remove Bray and their two children from the room.
“Bray said she hasn’t been allowed to see her partner since, claiming that the hospital sided with her partner’s mother’s wishes to keep her away,” the Indianapolis Star reports:
Bray said her partner’s mother does not support their relationship, which is why the mother didn’t want her in the room. When reached by phone Wednesday for comment, the patient’s mother said, “We’re not interested,” and hung up.
“She’s playing with the wrong person,” Bray said, “because I know that I have rights, and I’m going to fight for those rights no matter what.”
In a memorandum, President Barack Obama made clear in 2010 that any hospital that accepts federal government financial payments — usually via Medicare or Medicaid — must allow same-sex partners the same visitation rights as heterosexual married spouses, regardless of their marital status and regardless of the state’s marriage laws.
“This is an outrage and a pefect example of one of the many reasons why we need same-sex marriage here in Indiana,” David Stevens, of GetEQUAL Indiana, told The New Civil Rights Movement today. “My question is, is this the new ‘softened tone’ from the Catholic Church?”
The couple had picked out wedding rings this week and are planning on marrying in Iowa next month, according to the Star.
Dear sweet Sequoia family,
As many of you know already, my 18-year-old child Sasha was seriously burned on Monday afternoon. Sasha woke from a nap on the 57 bus to find that, apparently, another passenger — accidentally or on purpose — had lit Sasha’s skirt on fire. Sasha is now in stable condition and being very well cared for in a terrific burn center in San Francisco. We have every reason to believe that Sasha will eventually be able to return to life as usual, although the recovery process will take some time.
I wanted to take this time to send thanks to everyone who has offered words of support and love. And many even contributed to the online fundraising site set up by Sasha’s cousin Josh. I can’t tell you how moved we have all been by the outpouring of loving kindness, and how helpful that has been.
I also wanted to address how to talk to your kids about this incident. It’s in the news, and especially since it involves a Sequoia family, it may come up at school.
I think it’s really important to keep in mind that none of us can know the mind, motivations, or intentions of the person who set flame to Sasha’s clothing. Oakland Police have a 16-year-old high school student in custody, based on video camera footage from the bus. As far as I know, police are the only people who have viewed the footage. I certainly haven’t, so I can only guess at what happened. At this point, I choose to assume that this kid was playing with fire, and that he gravely underestimated the consequences of that. Others may make different assumptions, but it’s important to remember that they are all just that: assumptions. So when I talk to my students about this, I will emphasize the importance of fire safety: “Don’t play with matches or lighters.” And of course, “Stop, drop, and roll if your clothing catches fire.”
Another aspect of this story that has gotten a lot of attention is the fact that Sasha was wearing a skirt, “even though” Sasha appears to be a boy. The fact is that Sasha self-identifies as “agender” and prefers the pronouns “they,” “them,” and “their” when people refer to Sasha in the third person. (English doesn’t have commonly used gender-neutral third-person singular pronouns yet.) Being agender simply means that the person doesn’t feel that they are “either a boy or a girl.” I realize that this is a concept that even adults have difficulty wrapping their heads around. (My wife and I frequently slip up in our pronoun usage, much to Sasha’s chagrin!) So I can’t pretend that it’s an issue that all young children will grasp. But what they certainly can and should understand is that different people like different things. Different people dress or behave or look differently. And that’s a good thing. Sasha feels comfortable wearing a skirt. It’s part of their style. They also frequently sport a necktie and vest. Sasha likes the look, and frankly, so do I. It makes me smile to see Sasha being Sasha.
As I wrote above, none of us can know the mind of the kid who lit a flame to Sasha’s skirt, but I have a feeling that if he had seen Sasha’s skirt as an expression of another kid’s unique, beautiful self and had smiled and thought, “I hella love Oakland,” I wouldn’t be writing this now.
Again, many thanks for all of your love and kindness. Let’s all take care of each other.
There are some great resources here for students writing papers on marriage equality or same sex parenting in the US.
Two marriage equality cases are advancing to the Ninth Circuit of Appeals from the states of Nevada (Sevcik v. Sandoval) and Hawaii (Jackson v. Abercrombie). In both cases, marriage equality lost at the district court level, distinguishing them from the case challenging California’s Proposition 8 and essentially freeing them of the jurisdictional issues that complicated the Prop 8 case. This means that the two cases provide an opportunity for the court to directly consider the constitutionality of states banning same-sex marriage.
Numerous professional organizations submitted amicus briefs last week advising the court about why it should support marriage equality and in particular, addressing the question of same-sex parenting. Opponents assert that same-sex marriage should be banned because children fare better with different-sex parents than with same-sex parents. Not only does this ignore the fact that joint adoption is already legal for same-sex couples in both Nevada and Hawaii, but as the scholarly community points out, it disregards the consensus of scientific research endorsing same-sex parenting.
In a brief filed by the American Psychological Association, National Association of Social Workers, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, American Psychoanalytic Association, and Hawaii Psychological Association, the scholars outline three factors that research has determined leads to good parenting:
- The quality of the relationships between parent and child.
- The quality of the relationships among adults in the child’s life (such as between the parents).
- Available economic resources to support the child’s development (e.g., safer neighborhoods, more nutritious food, etc.).
The groups point out that these factors are not impacted by sexual orientation, and thus there is no reason to conclude same-sex parents would be inferior in any way.
In a complementary brief, the American Sociological Association (ASA) expanded upon what research says specifically about the outcomes for children of same-sex parents:
- ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE AND COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT: Both young children and adolescents had similar grades in school regardless of the sex of their parents. In fact, children of same-sex couples fare similarly — if not better — on various educational outcomes when compared to children of different-sex parents.
- SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: Children with same-sex parents tend to have the same number, support, and quality of peer relationships and friendships as other children.
- MENTAL HEALTH: Children with same-sex parents are just as psychologically healthy as children of different-sex parents, proving just as capable of externalizing and internalizing behaviors with no greater levels of anxiety or Attention Deficit Disorder.
- EARLY SEXUAL ACTIVITY: Children of same-sex parents are not more likely to engage in sexual activity. In fact, one study found that children with two moms engaged in sexual intercourse for the first time at a slightly older age than a similar sample of children with different-sex parents.
- SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND BEHAVIORAL PROBLEMS: Children with two moms were not more likely to use substances like tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana, experience problems with substance abuse, or engage in delinquent behavior, nor are children of same-sex parents more likely to engage in rule-breaking or inappropriately aggressive behaviors.
Like it did in its brief to the Supreme Court earlier this year, the ASA also points out that much of the research opponents cite to challenge marriage equality doesn’t actually address same-sex parenting. This includes rehashing of its debunk of Mark Regenerus’s flawed study, highlighting that David Popenoe’s work doesn’t discuss same-sex families, reminding that several cited researchers have objected to conservatives’ attempts to incorrectly use their research against same-sex parenting, and calling out various other “fatherless” studies that do not apply.
The voices of the young people who have been raised by same-sex parents is championed in an additional brief, filed by the Family Equality Council, Equality Hawaii Foundation, We Are Family, and COLAGE. Census estimates suggest there are about 250,000 children being raised in same-sex families. The brief includes testimony from several of them, who have also been highlighted by the Family Equality Council’s “The Outspoken Generation” project:
Given how same-sex adoption and same-sex marriage are separate issues under the law, it remains unclear why opponents of marriage equality use parenting arguments to justify maintaining their bans. Nevertheless, their parenting arguments do not hold any legitimate scientific merit and only provide advocates with opportunities to highlight the same-sex families already raising children in Hawaii, Nevada, and across the country.
(HT: Kathleen Perrin.)
Parenting, doing it right?
At the age of 10, Harriette Cunningham has already cleared the hurdles of telling her family and classmates that she is not the boy identified on her birth certificate. Getting the Canadian bureaucracy to acknowledge that, however, is an anxiety-filled challenge.
With the support of her family, Harriette is pressing for legislative change so that transgender children and youth can change their passport or birth certificate to reflect their gender identity. Whether crossing the border or signing up for gymnastics, she says her official identification is causing her stress.
By law, the Grade 5 pupil in the small community of Comox, on Vancouver Island, cannot change her birth certificate until she is old enough to have sex-reassignment surgery. Her birth certificate identifies her as Declan Forrest Cunningham, but her family has filed the paperwork to change her legal name to Harriette Camille Cunningham.
In a letter to her MLA, Don McRae, Harriette has asked for help to change her gender identity on paper without waiting for an operation that she may or may not choose to have years from now, “because in my opinion it really shouldn’t matter.”
For her father, Colin, the requirement is misguided.
“The problem arises when people think transgendered issues are to do with sexual orientation. She’s 10 years old – she’s not thinking about that.”
For the Cunningham family, the transition from Declan to Harriette was a gradual one. “Looking back, we had a little girl and just didn’t know it,” Colin said. Harriette officially started school in the fall of 2012 with her new name, but it was only after a long process involving counsellors and psychologists, and battles over haircuts and clothing.
Colin recalled how he kept correcting people about his oldest child’s gender until one day, when a Canadian Tire sales clerk complimented him on his two beautiful daughters, he realized that was precisely what he had.
“I wouldn’t change a thing about her,” he said. “What’s hard is you want to spare your child from hardship and other people’s judgment.” He noted that while many people have been supportive, Harriette has also endured some schoolyard harassment. More painfully, perhaps, is that birthday party invitations have almost dried up.
Helping others move toward understanding is more difficult when she is legally boxed in. “It’s a reminder that the government, on paper, doesn’t acknowledge who she is. For a young person, she has a strong sense of justice. She is passionate about this.”
Harriette’s grandmother, Cathie Dickens, is seeking a meeting with her MLA this month in a bid to win support to change the legal identity requirements. She wants to take Harriette to Europe without worrying about travel conflicts over the disconnect between her appearance and her official identity. “It is not a disorder; she is who she is. It is so onerous that she can’t have her birth certificate changed.”
September 14, 2013
Jiji Press OSAKA (Jiji Press)—The Osaka Family Court on Friday rejected a demand from a 31-year-old transsexual man for the court to confirm that a 1-year-old boy his wife had using a third person’s sperm is his legitimate child.
At the Osaka Family Court, Judge Keiko Kuboi said, “It is obvious that his wife could not conceive the boy through sexual intercourse with the man.”
The man, previously a woman who changed genders due to gender identity disorder, plans to appeal to a higher court.
Through artificial insemination using the sperm of a donor, the man’s wife had a boy in 2009 and a second boy in 2012. When the couple reported the births to central Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward, both boys were registered as out-of-wedlock children.
In the lawsuit, the man claimed that children born through artificial insemination by donors to men who lack reproductive functions should be treated as children born in wedlock.
But Kuboi noted, “The Japanese Civil Code does not assume a father-child relationship that should not exist as a result of natural reproduction.”
While their family registrations can record that transgender men had children via donor insemination, such a situation cannot be confirmed in nontransgender men’s family registrations, the judge said.
Under the government’s special law for people with gender identity disorder, the man was allowed to change genders in 2008 and married his wife, now 31 years old.
The family court in Tokyo and the Tokyo High Court rejected a claim filed in March 2012 by the man and his wife to correct the first boy’s family registration. They have appealed to the Supreme Court.
“I strongly felt that only those with gender identity disorder are being discriminated against,” the man said at a news conference held after the ruling was handed down.
In the study, “Civic Competence of Dutch Children in Female Same-Sex Parent Families: A Comparison With Children of Opposite-Sex Parents,” the children were asked a series of questions about accepting and contributing to a democratic society, taking shared responsibility, handling minor conflicts or conflicts of interest, and handling social, cultural, religious and outward differences.
One concern regarding previous studies on lesbian families is that most are based on convenience samples. In contrast, the present study drew children with female same-gender parents from a national sample. The number of children with male same-gender parents in this sample was too small to be included in the analyses.
Overall, the findings from this study suggest that growing up in a nontraditional family may be associated with a greater appreciation of diversity and the development of good citizenship.
|—||Children reared by lesbian parents score higher on good citizenship, report finds | San Diego Gay and Lesbian News|
BERLIN — A transgender man who gave birth to a baby boy in Germany is fighting to be recognized as the child’s father, rather than his mother.
The transgender man registered the birth, Spiegel Online reports, filing for a birth certificate with his name as the father.
Nevertheless, the hospital listed the man as the child’s mother, instead of father, saying it requires a mother to be listed in birth documents.
Now, a Berlin family court is due to rule whether he can be registered as the father of the baby, despite assurances by the Berlin Senate Administration for Internal Affairs that his request to be registered as the father will be honored.
The man also requested that the gender of the child “not to be revealed under any circumstances,” although German authorities overruled this and announced the child was a boy.
In 2011, German law was changed to allow transgender people who have not undergone a full sex change to identify themselves as members of their gender identity in official documents.
Parenting: doing it right.
On July 30, Mr Isakov staged a one-man protest in the centre of the town of Kazan, Russia, holding up a sign which read: “Being gay and loving gays is normal. Beating gays and killing gays is a crime!”
According to Gay Russia, his mother and father helped authorities escort their son to the car where he was taken to a police station.
His father assisted police by bringing him to the ground as his mother stole the poster from his hands.
Parenting, you’re doing it right.