Re: the “fear on behalf of the children” meme


Regarding the fear on behalf of the children meme, which has been widely attributed to be among the arguments that (yet again) reversed another state’s marriage equality gain: when “gay marriage” is taught in the schools — which of course it won’t be, not “taught” per se; marriage of any sort isn’t “taught,” but the fact that two men or two women could marry, if they wanted, sure; that’s what would or could be conveyed when or if the topic arose in the states in which such unions are no longer illegal  — kids like these would be the primary beneficiaries. Talkin’ about those two in that picture up there. They’re real people.

This is what would happen in the classroom in which “gay marriage” was “taught.”  Kids like these would, for the short duration of the reference, see a key aspect of their family reflected in their most important public sphere community. They would benefit, and so too would the two children (at least two per class of twenty) who will grow up to fall in love and make a life together, maybe even a family together, with a person of their same sex.

These children are already who they are, right now, in classrooms all across America, in nearly every county of the nation, in same-sex marriage permissive and same-sex marriage hostile states alike. Go ahead and ask the last US Census.

So, what about the children?

16 thoughts on “Re: the “fear on behalf of the children” meme”

  1. Yes, what about the children? I can not for the life of me, make sense of it all. WHY, why is this even up for a popular vote? Why, in this day and age, people have a cookie-cutter notion of what a family looks like, is beyond me.
    It’s about equality, people! Why isn’t every single American afforded the same? How is it that a basic CIVIL liberty can be denied because “your living in the dark ages neighbor” decided it isn’t “right”?
    I am sick of the religious propaganda. I am tired of people that only picture the sex that goes on behind closed doors, and think that is what determines if you are afforded the same rights. That’s what it boils down to. Using the “children” and the bible are just a cover for what they really want to say. It’s ridiculous and enough is enough.

    I’d like to say to the 53% of voting Mainers: You already have your hands in the pants of your tax-paying LGBT neighbor….isn’t that enough? GET YOUR HEADS out of their PANTS, you perverts.

  2. Due to the wonders/horrors of Facebook, I am suddenly in contact with people from the rural Utah town where I was raised. More than one has spouted off about how an opposite-sex family is allegedly better for children, and relies upon that opinion as a basis for denying same-sex couples rights. But when I talk to them about actual kids I know who are being raised in same-sex households, they have little to say.

    “What about *those* kids?” I ask. “Do you really mean to tell me they should be punished and actively and purposefully disadvantaged from a legal standpoint because you don’t like the gender of their parents?” The silence that greets those questions is awfully loud.

    Thank you for this post. It succinctly and powerfully expresses the tragedy of tunnel vision and the children who are disregarded amidst claims of saving children.

  3. What about the children indeed. As the parent of a 4 year old boy with parents of the opposite sex, I say your family is just as much a family as mine. Your kids are just as special as mine. Your kids should have the same rights as mine. It is sickening to think they do not because some people have taken their fear and hate and tied it up in a nice package with a big red Jesus ribbon.

    I will continue to let my son know that not all families look like ours does. I will encourage his teacher to bring his partner to open house nights at our preschool. I will not stand for anyone who does not think that we all deserve the same, equal rights. I will not be secure in my rights until we all have the same rights. I will keep faith that my son will not remember a time when society was so full of fear and hatred. I will cry. I will struggle. I will do my best to make this a better world. I will let you know that I see and value you and your family.

    I will ask, “What else can I do to help?”.

  4. This has been one of my favourite posts in a long time. Also, your son looks really pixie-ish in this picture, very magical. I hope you dont mind me saying that! 😛

  5. Thank you. All this goes without saying, and then again, from time to time, bears repeating. And are you kidding? Pixies are directly above seraphim and cherubim in my book.

    raisedq, couldn’t agree with you more. I am done done done with the “popular vote on civil rights” thing. Done. Not sure about the alternative, since half the time (most the time? all the time?) these votes have been thrust upon us, after we’ve pursued other avenues for civil rights. But: I. Am. Done. Done.

    Thank you breathingmoss,/b>, for pressing that question. It has to be asked, and the silence at the other end of it has to be listened to, long and hard, until it starts to speak something new.

    And dimplecheek, the solidarity of people like you is without doubt what’s going to finally push this whole shameful charade behind us all. Thank you, thank you. What else can you do? Wow. Continue to shine a bright light with your example.

  6. Hi there – I have no problem with your message, but the science saying that 10 percent of the population is gay or lesbian has been debunked. It’s more like three percent (3 %). I wouldn’t mind if it were 50 % – I’m just saying: keep your facts straight 🙂

    • Cute pun about the facts. But I’m going to keep them queer, and here’s why.

      I’m well aware of the wide variance between various attempts to quantify the number of LGBT people in the US and worldwide. Needless to say, we begin with the context that historically, a great many people have been loathe to admit a minority status to an unknown pollster, whether from the government or another agency. So I begin firmly rooted in the assumption that most counts will be undercounts. Given the prevailing status of gay people under the law in the US and internationally, I am unmovable on this part of the argument. At such time as gay people are not executed for being gay (executed: not killed, executed — Iraq and Iran spring immediately to mind), and when we enjoy full legal access to rights, privileges, and protections, worldwide (I won’t even talk about our full visibility and recognition in our various mainstream cultures), then we may BEGIN to get a clue how many of us actually exist. But so long as same-sex partner orientation is a value-ridden aspect of a person’s life, we’ll never really know. So all this counting stuff — bunking and debunking — is on a very, very tilted and pock-marked playing field.

      I could stop right there.

      But. It’s from Kinsey that I (and many people) get the 10%, and while a number of criticisms have been leveled at his methodology, many revisions still come up with similar numbers.

      The three percent (3%) numbers often come from entities that are strongly biased against gay people and strongly biased towards naturalizing heterosexuality. A prime example is the Family Research Institute (won’t link to them, but here’s their mission, which says plenty: “The Family Research Institute was founded in 1982 with one overriding mission: to generate empirical research on issues that threaten the traditional family, particularly homosexuality, AIDS, sexual social policy, and drug abuse.”) Gallup (linked below) mentions their findings as representative of the low end of the % estimate spectrum.

      Gallup talks about the difficulty of arriving at an accurate count here: “What Percentage of the Population is Gay?”, but does not arrive at a fixed number. Notably, they suggest the numbers vary, but range between 10% and less.

      The San Francisco Public Library discusses the challenges of LGBT demographics here: “GLBT Demographics.” This article lists ten different studies with ten different results and, like me, concludes that challenges around defining identity based on sexual practice, coupled with the value-laden nature of sexual minority status, make an accurate estimate decades away.

      Meanwhile, because of the whole we could be killed in several countries thing, and the fact that we’re regularly harassed and denied full legal rights and recognitions here in the good ole USA, bastion of democracy, I will always go with the high end of the estimates.

      [For those who are interested in doing what we can to at least use our own damn government head-count to count those of us who WANT to be counted: NGLTF’s “Queer the Census” project.]

  7. As I said – I really wouldn’t mind if it were any number at all, but apart from the science/census it just doesn’t make sense. Not every tenth person you meet is gay. Not every tenth couple. Among your acquaintances maybe, but I’m not even sure about that. Do you attend your high-school reunions? I’ll bet you were the only gay kid in your class.
    I’m not saying everything is honky-dory in Denmark, where I live, but I do believe the acceptance is such that no youngish gay person would go through life denying their sexuality. And it just isn’t ten percent.

    • Anecdotal experience lends a personal understanding to the lives around us, but does not define its parameters. So the number of evidently LGBT people in your life or mine, whether more or less than 10%, doesn’t really lend credence to any larger discussion of the total numbers of us in the population. Another critical point is that not every LGBT person is either (a) out, or (b) legible as queer. So anecdotal/observational “evidence” here is pretty problematic, too.

      But more important: “the acceptance is such that no youngish gay person would go through life denying their sexuality. ” Flat-out not true. Period.

      It’s rare that I say this, but truly, this kind of statement could only be uttered by someone who has never experienced homophobia. You and I may live in enlightened urban centers, around abundantly educated and cosmopolitan folk. I know I do. But I still denied my own sexuality well past puberty, and I lived right across the bay from Harvey Milk, et al. during the heyday of the Gay Liberation Movement. The closest I have come to suicide was in the first year of my first love. Because of self-hatred, due to internalized homophobia.

      Spend a moment looking at statistics regarding anti-gay harassment in schools and “acceptance” drops away fast and at best is joined by a huge chunk of “tolerance” and a menacing and significant proportion of “antagonism.”

      Young people are killed annually for being queer in the USA. One not thirty miles from here in 2002 (Gwen Araujo), another further south, last February (Lawrence King). Two young men took their own lives last spring after buckling from anti-gay harassment in school. How young? They were 11 years old (Carl Joseph Walker-Hooper, in Massechusetts, and Jaheem Hererra, in Georgia).

      Other highlights in anti-gay violence in 2009, just up ’til the middle of this last summer when I wrote about it last? (Bracketed numbers are the Wikipedia footnotes, live links in the post from which I clipped this)

        • On February 18, 2009 two men were arrested in Stroudsburg, PA for the stabbing death of gay veteran Michael Goucher.[157]
        • On March 1, 2009 in Galveston, Texas three men entered Roberts Lafitte bar and attacked patrons with rocks. One of the victims, Marc Bosaw, was sent to the emergency room to have twelve staples in his head.[158]
        • On March 14, 2009 a gay couple leaving a concert in Newark, New Jersey were attacked by 15 teens. Josh Kehoe and Bobby Daniel Caldwell were called “faggots” and beaten. Caldwell suffered a broken jaw.[159]
        • On March 23, 2009 in Seaside, Oregon two gay men were attacked and left lying unconscious on a local beach. The men regained consciousness and were treated at a nearby hospital.[160]
        • On Monday, April 6, 2009, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, an 11 year old boy in Springfield, Massachusetts, hanged himself with an extension cord after being bullied all school year by his peers. His peers said he “acted feminine” and was gay. [161]
        • On Saturday April 11, 2009 a gay man in Gloucester, Massachusetts was attacked and beaten by as many as six people outside a bar. Justin Goodwin, 36, of Salem suffered a shattered jaw, broken eye socket, broken nose and broken cheek bone.[162]

      From my post “The worst are full of passionate intensity,” June 12.

      Some further reading:

      Truth Wins Out, an organization combatting the “ex-gay” ministries myth-making machines

      Gay Lesbian Straight Educators Network’s “2007 National School Climate Survey: Nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT Students Harassed” and “From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America – A National Report on School Bullying”

  8. Hi, again.
    This quote was not understood right:

    But more important: “the acceptance is such that no youngish gay person would go through life denying their sexuality. ” Flat-out not true. Period.

    What I meant was – someone who grew up in the seventies or eighties, thus being young today, would eventually come out, maybe in their twenties, maybe in their thirties. They wouldn’t be closeted forever, so by now (I’m almost forty) I would be able to count who was gay among my friends and acqaintances. And it’s nowhere near ten percent.
    I do, by the way, get a taste of ‘homo-interest’, as everybody I meet assume I’m gay, because I’m mannish. Through high school I dressed pretty much like you do, and I assumed – reflecting cultural stereotypes, that I might be lesbian. It didn’t fill me with joy, exactly, and there was this strange attraction to men, sÃ¥ eventually I decided I was probably not gay – this was before the whole gender-bender-thing. From the beginning I made af point of not denying being gay unless I was asked directly (I was often asked indirectly, and just answered the question as if I didn’t understand the real significance of it, because I felt a denial would signal a condemnation of homosexuality). I threw myself wholeheartedly into the fight for gay marriage in the eighties, again having everybody assume I was gay and not denying it. Of course it makes a difference that I’m not actually gay, I haven’t walked around hand in hand with a girlfriend, but still, I have never been called names or harrassed in any way, not even in high school where surely everyone thought I was gay. We have had gay marriage in Denmark for twenty years (since oct. 1, 1989)
    But enough about me. You are rightly concerned about current american, religious, anti-gay sentiment, so please heed my warning: muslims are a hundred times worse. Steer clear. Danish gay men and trans men are increasingly attacked by young muslim men. The imams preach hatret of homosexuality to a degree you wouldn’t believe, and they do not think a moral condemnation suffices. The koran says to kill homosexuals by throwing them from a high place, and muslims are for the most part fundamentalists in that they do not believe in interpretation of the text. Look into it.

  9. Interesting debate, and stats. I’ve always
    felt the 10 percent estimate was about right. I live in a small city/town (250,000 people) in England, and in my University class of 42 there are three out gay people including me, plus any other who for whatever reason aren’t out. Back in high school I was in a class of 29 and there were three (different) out gay people, including me. Its just luck that I happened to be in a class that actually equals the stats especially as my town isn’t exactly diverse. I’m sure there are places where the LGBT populous is less than 10%, and others that are way above 10%. They all balance each other out. It’s strange to think that there are 600 000 000 LGBT people in the world. Sometimes it seems less.

  10. Oh and ullalauridsen, you posted about the same time as me so I missed your last post.

    I really dont think you can generalise muslims, I dont think you can generalise anyone. You cant really go around saying “all gay man are camp and have aids” nor can you say “all black men want to rob you” nor can you say “muslims are a hundred times worse.” My best friend is a muslim, he is also gay. Personally, I’m afraid of everyone, but thats my personal nuerosis. I fear homophobia indiscrimitly.

    I feel its inconsistant to support the rights of gay people but discriminate against muslims. Visa versa. How can someone be disabled but be racist? How can somebody be gay but deny the rights of anybody else. We should all be united in being discriminated (or preferably not be discriminated against at all.)

    I cant wait till I have kids so I can teach them tolerance and acceptance of all.

    • Thank you, BeethovenLives. I definitely share your view.

      Fundamentalisms everywhere give me the heebie-jeebies, and rarely do they look kindly upon gay folk. Getting into a “whose fundamentalism is worse” derby is a no-win game, it seems to me. In the U.S., A group of Islamic fundamentalists murdered a lot of people one September day in 2001. Christian fundamentalists have managed to have a very strong impact on US politics in recent decades, and have shaped public policy and managed to curb/ roll back basic rights and liberties for women and gay people in a great many states and federally. I could rummage around and find many more unsavory/unfortunate/disparaging factoids all over the place I’m sure. Isolated acts of extreme violence vs. consistent, protracted influence on broad public policy affecting millions? Eeek! Really, even trying to explain how the comparison is problematic is already problematic.

      The larger point for me personally is that I look hard to find the place where I and my family can make genuine connections with real people, regardless of the external or cultural or religious differences that might seem to divide us. I was met in this same intent at our girl’s Open House night last month, in a lengthy, warm conversation with the (Muslim) mother of one of my daughter’s classmates. On a person-by-person level, I think that’s the best we can do.

  11. I’m not a statistician and I do realize that anecdotal evidence is suspect. And so this comment is not at all to suggest a broader pattern of percentage of queer folks, but merely to add a few anecdotes to the conversation.

    FWIW, among 15 surviving cousins on my paternal size, 20% are confirmed queer, plus a few likely potentials who aren’t out. Genetics? Maybe. Environment? Unlikely, but possible. Coincidence? Perhaps.

    And when I take into account the number of friends who are bi-when-drunk, who quietly express their wish that they “dared” be fully bisexual or queer, but who instead opt for the safety of their heterosexual privilege, it becomes increasingly evident to me that numbers and statistics make it difficult to fully engage the question of what percentage of the population is – or could be – queer.

  12. Ullalauridsen, your argument seems to be based on the assumption that most LGBT people in their 40s are out–and of the ones you meet casually, they are all out to you. I’m not sure how you support this. Most of the people I meet casually keep their sexual orientations from me, whatever they may be; it’s usually only if we speak long enough, and in enough depth, for them to mention a partner by name or pronoun, that I have a clue. And that clue can be very misleading. I’ve known for over 20 years that I was probably bi, but have spent 12 of them married to a man, so most people assumed I was hetero. (And now that I’m married to a woman, I’m sure most people assume I’m lesbian. Still wrong–but at least I would count toward that 10% or whatever it is.)

    You go on to say yourself that LGBT folks in your country are at a high risk of assault (which I don’t doubt, much as I’m dismayed by your drawing the conclusion from this that Muslims are on the whole fundamentalists who are even more likely ). So do you really think almost 100% of them come out to acquaintances and strangers? For my part, I assume that even though I’m out in a very LBGT-safe area, counting up the known LGBT folks among my acquaintances yields an even more dramatic undercount than looking at polls.

    BTW, could you please tell me in what surah and verse the Quran says anything about throwing homosexuals from a high place? The Quran has a few verses decrying (male) homosexuality, and as with Christianity, later interpreters make their scriptures out to be even worse than they are, but I don’t find anything in the Quran such as what you describe. I think you may be a victim of anti-Muslim propaganda on this one.

  13. Hi Amy,
    I’ve been asked not to discuss islam any further in this forum, but all I want is for you to pay attention, and I’m sure you can do your own searches. It’s not in the koran, though, it is in the hadith. There are some charming leading islamic scholars on youtube explaining the legal framework.
    I did not mean that gay men or women in Denmark are harrassed a lot – only that they are primarily harrassed by young men of muslim heretage.

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