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Society is an adjustable system, which transforms from one epoch to another one. The issue of gay marriages still remains ambiguous but significant progress has been made over the time due to community’s intention to become more tolerant. While same-sex couple marriages are the issue that belongs to the sphere of human rights in the first place, the question of them having children seems to be a more complex one. Many people are afraid that new patterns of a family will break the traditional vision, so acceptance takes time and effort. In the course of this tension, children can be at risk because of several issues related to their social interaction.
The latest data on same-sex households who have children demonstrates that they make up only one percent of population. Consequently, they are clearly in minority, which makes such children different from their peers. Another aspect of the issue is that only sixteen percent of gay couples do have children, biological or adopted ones. This statistics makes one think about whether this number is adequate or whether it is low, and reflects the situation when gay couples are concerned about having children because of some external problems.
The researchers claim that being raised by same-sex parents is more positive when there is a legal marriage bond between them. In this case, like in traditional families, there is a higher level of stability and this affects children in a positive way. However, it is noted that this works mostly for more or less tolerant communities where gay marriages are accepted. Otherwise, no matter how a family is comfortable and supporting inside, tension will be too strong from outside and, hence, affect a child for whom socialization is extremely important in adolescence. Even before that, it is obvious that identity search is a psychological aspect that concerns every child. At a certain age, a child realizes that there is a standard model of a family that consists of a father and a mother, which is not the case. At this point, both parental and societal influences are crucial, and can be either supportive or traumatic. The main idea is to introduce the concepts of normality and diversity as key characteristics that can help establish one’s identity. In other words, a child should understand that if one model is normal, it does not exclude the normality of others. In this case, a person is not inclined either to ostracizing or being ostracized.
Many researchers believe that the concerns about children of same-sex couples can start as early as at the point of conception. In fact, while most heterosexual couples can conceive a child in a natural way, it is not the case with homosexual couples. As a result, there are several variations of how a child becomes part of the family. “In many cases (no one knows just how many), children living with gay and lesbian couples are the biological offspring of one member of the couple, whether by an earlier marriage or relationship, by arrangement with a known or anonymous sperm donor (in the case of lesbian couples), or by arrangement with a surrogate birth mother (in the case of male couples)” (Meezan & Rauch, 2005).
Thus, there is an issue about obtaining reliable data on children raised in homosexual households because of their heterogeneity. These children do not belong to the same group, so it is difficult to establish the criteria that they should meet in order to make a research. Secondly, it is not clear to whom they should be compared in order to decide whether they are generally better off than their peers or not. Anyway, official psychologists’ verdict is quite clear based on numerous researches, which they carried out: “results of research suggest that lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children. ... Overall, results of research suggest that the development, adjustment, and well-being of children with lesbian and gay parents do not differ markedly from that of children with heterosexual parents. (17) (Meezan & Rauch, 2005).
It should be noted that there is controversial information brought by different studies. For instance, there are studies that conclude that fathers in heterosexual family are emotionally closer to a child in comparison with lesbian co-mothers. It is usually explained by the fact that the second mother is not biologically related to the child, so she cannot be as deeply involved. However, other studies of the same combination bring different results, proving that there is no difference based on that criterion or even they show quite opposite results.
One of the concerns expressed by the community often deals with the idea that while a child is raised in a homosexual household, he or she believes that being homosexual is more normal, and, hence, automatically adopts this sexual orientation. Yet, experts believe that there is no scientific evidence that proves this assumption, as the most popular belief is that sexual orientation is not socially but biologically determined. This is to say, having a heterosexual child in homosexual environment is as normal as the opposite situation. At the same time, it is obvious that being raised by the same-sex couple a child will have a more liberal attitude to either sexual orientation and will accept diversity more readily.
No doubt, socialization is an aspect of same-sex marriages and parenting that are of most concern. Not all communities are equally positive about homosexuality, so this can directly affect both parents and their children. Among potential risks there are low self-esteem, loneliness, depression, poor performance in school in case of issues with peers, and so on. Research demonstrates that some children have to conceal information about their parents in order to be accepted, which of course causes psychological conflict and mind split.
In conclusion, it is worth saying that gay marriage as a social phenomenon still poses a lot of questions to the community. Raising children in homosexual families is a relatively new issue that is still severely debated. Opponents are afraid that this practice can be harmful to children in two ways: It can cause inclination to homosexuality in those children who are raised this way, and evoke confusion of children of heterosexual families. However, proponents point out that there are no relevant data that confirms these claims, as homosexuality is biologically determined and is not a social option. Moreover, they believe that children raised by same-sex couples are more vulnerable not because of internal family problems but because of possible external bullying in communities where the level of tolerance to homosexuality is low. As a result, identity issues can be complicated by social tension and being an outcast among their peers. Subsequently, the measure to be taken is first of all to educate the community and promote tolerance to diversity.