Sunday, October 19, 2014

26 And Counting

Gay Marriage Gains Momentum in U.S.

October 17th Is a Groundbreaking Day

This week, Attorney General Eric Holder said in a video message last Friday that the U.S. government would recognize marriages for federal benefits in seven new states: Colorado, Indiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Utah. Also, on Friday, a federal judge struck down Arizona’s ban on gay marriage and a The U.S. Supreme Court denied the state of Alaska’s request to put a stop to gay marriages pending an appeal.  Earlier, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess ruled earlier that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

What does this mean for parents?  Susie and Johnny may not be marrying the opposite sex, but brides and brides as well as grooms and grooms may now walk down the aisle in twenty-six states.  You’re not losing a daughter, but gaining one.

I'm O.K., You're O.K.

One of the biggest blows to straight parents of gay and lesbian children is the fact that their daughter or son won’t get married and produce grandchildren.  However, the American Family is being redefined every day, maybe not what you, the straight parent, originally envisioned, but for the majority of Americans, same-sex marriage is o.k., particularly for the under-30 age group. Parents needn’t worry about their child being relegated to a life of loneliness; it is possible for their child to get married in the majority of states now. 

What Me Worry?

As same-sex marriage is a new concept, parents may worry about its lasting effects. However, Michael Callahan, writer for Men’s Health, September 30, 2014,, reports that the landmark 2008 study, published in the journal Developmental Psychology, followed gay couples for three years, and found that “by nearly every metric, they reported higher-quality relationships and felt more satisfied than straight married couples did.”

What About Children

For parents who worry about the effects that a non-traditional marriage has on their children, consider this:
While adoption is not automatic in many states and is complicated by the fact that the spouse often has to adopt the child of the other spouse, an Australian study (ACHESS), the first of its kind to consider the health and well-being of children with same-sex parents, found that children from same-sex families scored about 6% higher on general , health, and family cohesion. On most health measures, including emotional behavior and physical functioning, the 500 children of 315 same-sex parents in Australia showed no difference compared with children from the general population. 

With more states performing gay marriage and studies pointing to the success of gay relationships, your children’s decision to marry and have children will not be considered “less than” or inferior to your traditional marriage defined as between man and woman.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

National Coming Out Day:Opportunity to Increase Your Support

Advice Applies for Other 364 Days A Year

Last week, I wrote about the meaning of National Coming Out Day, October 11th and gave tips on what parents should say if their child does come out.

Today,  I’ll suggest tactics that show you care as your child’s greatest supporter.

Ways to Be A Straight Ally
  • ·      You can participate in a local event.  Perhaps your child’s school is having a Gay-Straight Alliance event.
  • ·      Post a Facebook status.  Include the Human Rights Campaign logo.
  • ·      Wear a classic gay pride symbol.  A lapel pin with a rainbow flag or a peace pin in rainbow colors are appropriate.
  • ·      Volunteer at a LGBT organization such as PFLAG (Parents for Lesbians and Gays) or The Trevor Project, a Suicide Prevention Hotline.
  • ·      Human Rights Campaign’s National Coming Out Project (NCOP) provides a free National Coming Out Day Kit which includes information, resources, and ideas.  See
  • ·      HRC also has a downloadable guide on its site “Coming Out as a Straight Supporter.”
  • ·      Above all, be a good listener and show your love.

Don Don't You & Your Child Feel Pressured To Come Out ‘Though

Just because it’s National Coming Out Day doesn’t mean that your child should feel as if he/she should come out to the world.  Your child may be comfortable telling only you; he may feel scared of harassment at school, fear rejection of friends.  This may not be the right time for him to divulge his orientation. 

While some LGBT persons may feel relieved, unburdened and want to tell everyone, your child will most likely choose to share with different people at different times in his life.  Do not try to rush his maturity. 

Take Your Lead From Him/Her. You may be dying to tell your best friend.  If he/she doesn’t want you to tell Grandma, Aunt Sarah, then don’t.  It’s your child’story and life, every day of the year. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

National Coming Out Day Is October 11th

What Is National Coming Out Day?

Observed annually, this internationally observed day celebrates coming out and  raises awareness of the LGBT+ community and civil rights movement.  As part of LGBT history month, National Coming Out Day (NCOD) celebrates individuals who publicly identify as a gender or sexual minority. October 11th is the anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

How Is The Holiday Observed?

Many people celebrate the holiday by staging rallies, parades, setting up LGBT information tables.  You will see participants wearing pride symbols such as pink triangles and rainbow flags.

What If Your Child Decides to Come Out On October 11?

What Do You Say?
·      Thank you for sharing your story with me.  It must have been hard for you to tell me.  Give him/her a hug. (shows pride and encourages further dialogue).
·      I love you and always will. (Kids want unconditional love and acceptance. So often, they are told it’s not o.k.)
·      How long have you known? (shows interest in their journey).
·      Would you like me to discuss with others?  If so, whom?  Have you told your sister, brother, friends at school?  (shows respect for privacy – it’s his or her story).
·      Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?  Are they out?  I’d like to meet them. (shows interest in whom is important in their life and acceptance of their love interests).
·      How do you feel about being gay?  Are you accepted at school?  (opens up conversation about possible self-hatred or harassment from others).
·      Do you have support groups for your orientation?  Gay-Straight Alliance, chat rooms on-line, etc (Besides your support, your child will obtain further help from LGBT community, particularly from his/her own group).
·      I intend to find out more about gay issues now that I know you’re gay.  I hope you will educate me as well (shows open mind and ability to have your child take the lead- this is one area where the child knows more than the parent, usually!
·      I’m proud that you have the presence at your age to come out.  It shows confidence, honesty, and self-awareness.  (end on a positive note that encourages ongoing discussion).

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Principal Puts Spamalot Into His Spam

Boy, am I glad my child doesn’t attend high school in South Williamsport, Pa.!  Otherwise, he would not be allowed to watch a high school production of the Tony-award winning play Spamalot that I saw on Broadway in 2009 after its four- year run.

Amusing and clever, the parody was a painless history lesson that featured David Hyde Pierce.  The musical was based on the movie “Monty Python and The Holy Grail.”  The movie contains a subplot about Sir Lancelot, who as a gay man, ends up in a same-sex marriage.

The Brouha

Williamsport High School principal Jesse Smith, cancelled the show because of its supposed gay content.
Not everyone agrees with Smith and had staged a rally this week before the Monday’s Town Board meeting.

You see as far back as June, the principal e-mailed theatrical director Dawn Burch about his reservations regarding scenes in Spamalot.  Burch defends the musical, as do I, as suitable for all age groups.

However, Smith’s objections, quoted in The New York Times: “Pennsylvania Principal Cancels Spamalot,” September 23, 2014, stated that “he didn’t want families to be afraid of bringing small kids because of the content” or force students “to choose between their own personal beliefs and whether or not to take part in a production.”

Get Real

Golly gee, what kid today doesn’t know that there is (gasp!) such a phenomenon as gay men and gay marriage?   They watch television, hear comments from friends. No one is saying that Spamalot is endorsing gay marriage nor is it saying that the viewer must endorse it also. 

However, Williamsport High School is not the only offender.  The American Civil Liberties Union has found that some public school districts in states such as Arkansas and Pennsylvania have censored LGBT websites so students can not access legitimate information.  This web filtering program is discriminatory.

Now that your kids have been in school for over two weeks, you may want to find out what GLBT-friendly programs are in place for your child. So, you can weed out the discriminatory ones.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Who is Caitlin Ryan?

You May Not Know Her Name, But Her Work Has Enlightened Parents

Caitlin Ryan is a clinical social worker with a Ph.D.  She lives in San Francisco and is a lesbian.  If her name sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because she, an Irish Catholic, was the focus of an article in the New York Times, September 13, 2014, entitled “ A Social Worker Helps Mormon Families to Accept Gay Children” by Samuel G. Freedman.

Field Work Among LGBT Homeless and Parents of Gay Children

In 2008, she started a program called the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State.  The first of its kind, this project studied the effect of family acceptance and rejection on the mental health and well-being of LGBT youth including HIV/AIDS, homelessness, and suicide. 

The research found that how a parent responds to the coming out of their LGBT children had a profound impact on the child’s psyche, even years later.  What the Family Acceptance Project found that LGBT youths who experience high rejection from their families(when compared with those young people who experienced little or no rejection from their families):
·      Were 8 times more likely to have attempted suicide.
·      More than 6 times likely to report high levels of depression.
·      Were more than 3 times likely to use illegal drugs and more than 3 times likely to be at high risk for HIV or other STDs by the time they reach their early 20s. 
·      In addition, 40% of America’s homeless youth are LGBT.

How does a parent avoid all these undesirable outcomes for their LGBT child?  Unconditional love, without it, the hurt lingers.  Ryan and her colleagues spread that message through handbooks, films, research papers, to name a few outlets.

For tips on how you can be more accepting of your child’s sexual orientation, see acceptance project

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Don't Overlook Grandparents' Support

Today is National Grandparents Day.  In terms of supporting a family with a GLBTQ child, grandparents can play a major role.Who better than the experienced and enlightened grandparent whose advancing years have mellowed attitudes about everything: “seen and done it all?”

Parents Too Close For Objectivity?

While the parents, like many, may react with fear, disappointment, confusion, and anger over a child’s coming out, the grandparent can not only offer the approval and unconditional love that the child needs, but be a shoulder for the parent who needs time to readjust his/her expectations for his child as well. The hard-wired notions of the child’s future has suddenly been upended. The parent’s hopes are withered.

Maybe because the grandma or grandpa doesn’t live under the same roof as the bewildered parent and spends less time with the grandchild, he doesn’t get involved with day-to-day slugfests about dress nor does he hear the exasperated phrases in the household  It’s Just a Phase!  You’re Too Young to Know!” – verbal cyanide for any LGBT child who knows his identity better than anyone.

A Calm Presence

Grandma’s house is not full of tension, stress.  It’s a safe haven.  The same woman who may have made clothes for you, baked cakes with you, is the one now who continues to hug you and tells you you’re great just the way you are. (Even if a parent has been accepting of his GLBT child’s sexual orientation from the git-go, grandparents can supplement this attitude).

Modern Family Redefined

Generally, the grandparent doesn’t care to try and change the child’s orientation, an unsuccessful tactic that only incites anger, confusion and makes the child feel unloved. Coming clean is a personal necessity, a release of an internal pressure he/she can no longer hide.  It’s a compliment that she reveals her true identity.

Even though the grandmother and also the parent grew up in a time when a young woman or could not come out of the closet, unlike the parent, the grandparent usually does not go in the closet when the child announces his sexual orientation.

For unconditional love, the relative with no agenda is often the best, particularly for bruised emotions.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tactics to Outwit Cyberbullies

Don’t Let Them Get the Upper Hand!
They’re Everywhere!

No longer relegated to the playground, the bus, the cafeteria, this bully can now work full-time before school, after school at targeting his victim.  With just a few clicks, the humiliation can be witnessed by hundreds, even thousands of people online.

According to research conducted by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network), more than 80% of LGBT kids experience cyberbullying defined as harassment of others using Internet, mobile phones or other types of cyber technology with intention to threaten or humiliate.

Because of modern technology’s ability to reach large audiences, cyberbullying is particularly invasive.  We’ve all read about suicides of youths resulting from this non-stop form of bullying.  In fact, gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.

Ways They Can Get To You

Boys tend to bully by “sexting” or with messages that threaten physical harm.  Girls in general spread lies, rumors, expose secrets or exclude the victim from e-mails. The cyberbully can post pictures to embarrass or hurt, send threatening e-mails or text messages, dupes you into revealing personal information, pretends to be you online and can spread rumors, and all these insidious methods can be done anonymously.

Parent’s Role

So, what can a parent do?
  • ·      Keep all computers in a common area of your house so you can see what’s going on.  Monitor its use.  Try to find out whom your child communicates with.
  • ·      Have your child tell you if he/she receives a harassing message. She/he should not respond to any message or post.  The cyberbully wants you to respond. 
  • ·      Online services can block or ban options. You can prevent communication by blocking the bully’s e-mail address, cell phone number, and deleting them from social media contacts.
  • ·      Talk to your phone and internet provider.  They can provide additional privacy settings.
  • ·      Report activities to their internet service provider (ISP) or to any websites they use to target your child.

It’s Important to:

·      Save evidence of cyberbullying such as a screenshot of a web page.  Report them to a teacher or school counselor
·      Report threats of harm and inappropriate sexual messages to the police.  In many cases, the cyberbully’s actions can be prosecuted by law.
·      Keep reporting every bullying incident.  Although this is time-consuming, it’s a necessary step to stop the cyberbully.