Senior Katie Knight is Co-Editor for print. This is her fourth year on staff. She enjoys bossing people around--particularly Co-Editor Andrew McKittrick. She is also a member of the Broadcasting Dream Team. Read Full »
Senior Nate Anderson has three dads.
That means he has to buy three fathers’ day cards when June rolls around each year. Three people he can watch Extreme Homes on HGTV with on the weekends. While many kids around the world don’t have a father figure in their lives, Nate has the luxury of having three.
And it never would have been this way if Nate’s father, Kirk, hadn’t gotten a divorce, come out of the closet and met his partner, Steve, 14 years ago.
“[Finding out my dad was gay] has been both positive and negative,” Nate said. “It’s mostly been positive. Even if it was negative at first, it’s made me who I am today. I don’t judge people as much because of this because I know what it’s like to be bullied, I know what it’s like to not have people you can trust. I know what it’s like to go through divorce, to have different lifestyles.”
Slowly yet surely, the number of households led by homosexuals is becoming more common and acceptable around the United States. According to the 2010 census, a quarter of same-sex American households are raising children.
Nate believes that because society is beginning to change the way it views gay people — specifically in certain religious organizations — the acceptance of gay parenting will only continue to grow in the future.
“I think people are starting to recognize [homosexuals and their ability to parent],” Nate said. “It’s not as secretive anymore. It’s become more socially acceptable to be gay in our society. I think people are losing some of that rigid religiousness in the sense that they might not like or agree with it but they respect it enough to let it happen.”
Kirk thinks that in the past few decades, most people have had no idea that they know a homosexual person, and now suddenly they’re feeling confident enough to come out even as early as high school. He believes that as society continues to change, they will continue to have the freedom to do that.
“It’s just an exciting time because it’s a huge wave, and you’re not going to be able to stop it,” Kirk said. “And it’s a very peaceful wave, which is really cool.”
Although Nate believes tolerance for gay couples is growing, there is still a large number of people who are strongly opposed to the legalization of gay marriage and allowing them to have and raise children. So far, only nine states and 11 countries across the world have voted to legalize gay marriage.
“It is changing but there still are some haters,” Kirk said. “When I’m in a room I can tell you who the haters are, and I feel sorry for them. I don’t think bad of them, they’re just misinformed. They need to relax and make themselves happy.”
Junior Sarah Bromley’s mother, Debra, who is a lesbian, has chosen to keep her sexuality to herself and a few select friends, just because of the potential conflict that could arise from it. It became a natural choice after awhile, especially after being rejected by her own family years before.
“My family, they don’t approve,” Debra said. “They don’t think I should have a child, that I’m perverted.”
After Debra’s rejection by her family, Sarah has been hesitant to tell her friends about her mom. Because of her fear of harsh judgment from her peers, she’s chosen to only tell certain close friends of hers rather than be open about it.
Some kids like Sarah with homosexual parents struggle with teasing and bullying directed at them because of their parents, and AAMFT social worker Susan Dunaway thinks that keeping it to themselves is more comfortable than letting the world know and dealing with the judgment that comes along with it.
“Adolescents are usually supposed to be really centered on their own world,” Dunaway said. “Sometimes they’ll go through this period where they want a pass, like saying they don’t have a family that’s different, and so they might try to hide [their parent’s sexuality] because they fear judgment. They might be embarrassed about their parents, but, you know, we’re all kind of embarrassed about our parents.”
According to Debra, what has been at the bottom of people’s hate in the past is ignorance. Now that homosexual parenting is becoming more common, she thinks the country has begun to educate themselves and are learning to tolerate it more.
“I think society is accepting it more, and I think people are becoming more educated,” Debra said. “They’re just not worrying about it as much; part of it is because people are coming out more and aren’t really trying to hide it. It’s not a choice, it’s how you’re born.”
According to Debra, the biggest fear most people have in regards to homosexual parenting is the possibility of “raising their kids to be gay,” or not giving their kids proper attention.
“All the research said there was no difference in how the child [turns out],” Dunaway said. “What they’re looking at is the child safe and happy and nurtured and cared for, and they’ve never found anything that points to any major differences. Really what kids are looking for is stable people who love them.”
Kirk thinks that finding differences between heterosexual and homosexual households is a difficult thing to do. Not only are his parenting techniques basically the same, but walking into his house, an average person wouldn’t be able to see a difference.
“If you came into our house and both of us guys weren’t in the room, you wouldn’t be able to tell that it wasn’t a heterosexual household,” Kirk said. “There’s really no difference. The same chores have to be done, it’s the same structure. We really work as a team and we support each other if that makes sense.”
Senior Matti Hayes, who also has a lesbian mother, thinks that because of society’s general misunderstanding and discomfort in regards to gay people, their first reaction is familiarizing the situation in any way that they can, especially by asking her questions like “Is one mom more of a dad, and the other more your mom?”
“I feel like people always have to try to assign that [gender role],” Hayes said. “I think to some people since it doesn’t really make sense to them, they try to normalize it however they can.”
But like Debra, Matti thinks that rather than hate, true misunderstanding lies at the bottom of homophobia.
“I want people to know that it’s not just a gender/sex thing, it’s more of a person thing,” Hayes said. “And if the person you really like happens to be the same gender as you, I don’t think it should really matter.”