Sunday, November 29, 2015

"Stop, Look, and Listen"

The no. 1 complaint I hear from gay teens or adults whom I interview is that their parents don’t listen to them.  When they summon their nerve to come out to their parents and should have the mike, the parents interrupt by saying “You can’t be!” “You’re too young to know!” “It’s just a Phase!” Or, they react with stony silence or  anger as they storm out of the room.
For a parent to be an effective listener, sit still.  Don’t nag, criticize, ask a million questions or lecture.  Watch your body language.  Crossed arms make you appear angry.  Maintain eye contact.  Nodding makes the speaker think you’re listening.
Give your child your undivided attention. Don’t talk on the phone, watch television or check your messages on your cell phone. If you cannot honestly listen at that moment, explain why and ask if you can talk again at another time.
And when your kids talk about their significant other, they want you to not only listen but ask them about their special one in the same way you would inquire about your heterosexual daughter or son’s love interest.  If you don’t show interest in your gay son’s or lesbian daughter’s social life, it connotes that you don’t care about their happiness or you don’t accept their sexual orientation.
If you talk to your friends about your hetero daughter’s dating, you similarly should relay news about your gay child’s relationships if you have his/her permission to do so.
To be a good listener requires patience and diligence.  In our world driven to distraction by multi-media, it is a skill that takes practice.  But when it is achieved, the art of listening speaks louder than words.


Monday, November 23, 2015

November is National Adoption Month


Did you know that LGBTQ parents are four times more likely to be raising an adopted child?
And six times more likely to be raising a foster child?
Erroneous Studies
Yet there are judges who still contend that children are better off  (more emotionally and mentally stable) when raised by a mother and a father in the same home?  The erroneous studies used as fodder to break up families are not generally accepted by social scientists.  In fact, the American Psychological Association attests that there is no scientific evidence that gay couples are unfit to raise children.
In the Supreme Court’s marriage decision Obergefell vs. Hodges, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy specifically listed  in his opinion adoption among the rights associated with marriage and wrote that children were harmed when their parents’ unions were not recognized. Yet earlier this month in Price, Utah, a lesbian married couple who have two biological children, twelve and fourteen, and a foster baby who moved in with them in August, were initially ordered by Juvenile Court Judge Scott Johansen to surrender the baby, nine months old, within a week.
Couple Fit, Not Unfit
The foster parents, April Hoagland, 38, and Becky Peirce, 34, were devastated.  Said Hoagland to KUTV, “it’s not fair because I haven’t done anything wrong.” She hasn’t. They are licensed foster parents who are married.  Said the Republican Governor Gary R. Herbert, “the Judge may not like the law, but he should follow the law.”
There has been a public outcry to Johansen’s decision. The Human Rights Campaign filed a formal complaint.  State Division of Child and Family Services and foster moms filed motions asking Johansen to reconsider. Johansen has withdrawn from the case and referred it to Judge Mary Manley.
New Order
The order has been amended and temporarily rescheduled for December 4th.  The new order no longer says “the baby must be placed with a heterosexual couple “and removes the phrase “It’s not in the best interest of children to be raised by same-sex couples.” However, the order still notes “the court cited a concern that children are more emotionally and mentally stable when raised by a mother and father in the same home.”
For now, the baby is with Hoagland and Pierce who want to adopt her.  The biological mother has surrendered her parental rights, the father is in jail.  Child welfare officials say the change could be temporary.  What could be worse than taking the baby from Hoagland –Peirce’s loving home and forcing her to make yet another adjustment? 



Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Holidays Not A Good Time For Introductions!


While visiting at Thanksgiving with your new boyfriend in tow may seem like a perfect time for a quorum of your family to meet your special one, think again.  Norman Rockwell, it’s not!
It’s not a pretty picture when you can’t ingratiate your significant other - when everyone is preoccupied with unlumping the gravy and keeping the cheese platter away from the dog who is at eye level with the coffee table!
You don’t want to embarrass your boyfriend, no longer your “friend,” as he was known before, and make him feel as if he is center stage.  He will either be talking over family members between creamed onions and the pumpkin pie or trying to engage them in conversation when they are satiated, snoring from all those heavenly carbs as they watch the football game after the meal. It’s a tough day to compete with a turkey at trying to create an impression!
Pick instead a time when everyone is relaxed and the getting-to-know-you conversation flows. Make sure your partner is OUT to his family and friends! Perhaps a picnic, a restaurant dinner, Charades anyone?  And no formal china to wash, and wash, and wash!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Talking To Your Kids About Sex

Perhaps, it would make it easier for a parent to adapt to the realization that her child is gay if she considers it a possibility from the start. In today’s society, you can’t presume that everyone is heterosexual.  (Sex Education classes that preach abstinence-only or have information only applicable to heterosexuals are missing the mark).  Nor can you assume that your adolescent is not having sex.
Penn State sex researcher Megan K. Maas suggests in her blog “7 Steps to Establish Yourself as an approachable parents so your kids will talk to YOU about sex,”, that parents use the word “romantic partner” instead of  boyfriend” or “girlfriend.” To encourage conversation, rather than close it, and remove stigma as well, phrase a question such as “Do you have a crush on anyone?” rather than “do you have a crush on a particular boy/girl?” The latter will make him feel awkward and ashamed if his crush is not on the opposite sex.
Maas, a National Institutes of Health Fellow, also advises that if you’ve already used the word “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”, it’s not too late to change it. Don’t look back! How were you to know?
                        Don’t Second Guess
I would add that you can’t second guess your child’s sexual orientation.  Nor can you tell him/her how they are feeling.  Sexuality is fluid as Alfred Kinsey discovered as far back as 1948 when he developed The Kinsey Scale that showed people did not fit into neat and exclusive heterosexual or homosexual categories. 
Your college daughter could tell you she’s a lesbian in her single-sex college (LUG, lesbian until graduation), then tell you two years later, she’s a heterosexual.  It happens.
In this case, the child knows best.  The child is, in essence, the parent and is trying to educate you.  Try to refrain from disbelief.  It smacks of denial.