Homosexuality Children & Family Values
Are homosexuals more likely to molest children?
One of the most enduring and damaging myths equates homosexuality with child molestation. In truth, the most likely person to sexually abuse a child is a heterosexual male; in many cases this person is a family member or close family friend (Falk, 1989), (Koss, 1994). Pedophiles who molest children of the same sex are almost never homosexual in their adult sexual relations (Groth & Birnbaum, 1978). Furthermore, the molestation of children by heterosexual women appears to be uncommon, and even less common among lesbians (Erickson, Walbek & Seely, 1988) (Finkelhor, 1984) (Johnson & Shrier, 1987).
Don't homosexuals recruit children and seduce naive adults?
In an effort to spread fear and ignorance, organizations that oppose gay rights often portray homosexuals as sexual predators out to recruit or seduce as many people as possible. Homosexuals, like heterosexuals discover their sexuality as a process of maturing; they are not recruited, seduced or brain washed into the gay lifestyle (Bell, Weinberg Hammersmith, 1981), (Troiden, 1989). Common sense proves the difficulty gay people would face in trying to recruit. What would they have to offer? Rejection by family and friends, fear of discrimination, the opportunity to experience harassment, violence and possible death at the hands of a homophobe? The idea of recruitment is utterly without scientific foundation (Weinberg, 1977) .
Why is it important to educate our youth about homosexuality?
Not all teenagers are heterosexual. As many as 900,000 South African's and 7.2 million Americans under the age of twenty are gay or lesbian (Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1991, & Kinsey's estimates). In 1992 the Hetrick-Martin Institute reported that eighty percent of gay and lesbian teens experience feelings of severe isolation. Forty-five percent of gay males, and twenty percent of lesbians experience physical or verbal assault while in high school, and twenty-eight percent of these teenagers feel forced to drop out of school.
Gay and lesbian teens are also two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers and account for up to 30% of all completed suicides among teens. In 1989 suicide was the leading cause of death among gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered youth (Gibson, 1989). It should be obvious that honest information, positive role models, support from well informed teachers, counselors and friends could be immensely helpful to a teenager who is struggling to come to terms with his or her sexual orientation.
Gay and lesbian youth are not alone in their need for honest information about homosexuality. The most common perpetrators of anti-gay violence are young men, ages 21 or under (Comstock, 1991). In 1988 a national survey indicated that only 12% of males ages 15 to 19 felt they could befriend a gay person (Marsiglio, 1993). Honest information that disputes the myths surrounding homosexuality would help insure that we do not raise a future generation of children filled with ignorance, fear and intolerance for people different from themselves.
See also: Gay Teens
If my child is exposed to homosexuality, is he/she more likely to become gay or lesbian?
It is unlikely that information about homosexuality or exposure to gay men or lesbians will influence a child's sexual orientation. Current research suggests that sexual orientation is influenced by genetic or biological factors and is probably determined before or shortly after birth. If a child is going to be gay, it is likely that the child is going to be gay regardless of whether or not he/she is exposed to homosexuality.
Almost all gay men and lesbians have grown up in a heterosexual world, with very little exposure to homosexuality. The overwhelming majority of gay men and lesbians were raised by heterosexual parents, educated by heterosexual teachers, and socialized with heterosexual siblings and friends. They were surrounded by heterosexism in magazines, books, movies and on television, yet they grew up to be gay. It should also be noted that children raised by gays and lesbians are no more inclined to be homosexual than children raised by heterosexual parents.
Are children of gay and lesbian parents more likely to be gay, and have more emotional or social problems?
There are currently between one million and five million lesbian mothers and between one million and three million gay fathers in the United States (Patterson, 1992). The majority of these children are from previous heterosexual marriages, but many gay men and lesbians are choosing to adopt or become foster parents, and lesbians are increasingly opting for artificial insemination.
In some states gay men and lesbian women are allowed to adopt or provide foster care, but in many cases only one parent is allowed to become the child's legal guardian. Policies such as these do little to help promote family unity, not to mention the legal ramifications of such an arrangement should the legal guardian die, or the couple separates. None-the-less, many gays and lesbians manage to raise their children in a successful manner.
A review of nine studies concerning aspects of personal development, such as, self-concept, moral judgment, and intelligence, revealed no significant difference between children of lesbians and gay men and children of heterosexuals (Patterson, 1992). There are also 35 different studies conducted within the last fifteen years that have shown that children of gay and lesbian parents are no more likely to become homosexual than children of heterosexuals, and are just as well adjusted (Gross, 1991). A recent study conducted by Fiona Tasker of Birkbeck College in the Netherlands indicates that non-biological lesbian co-parents are usually more involved with the children and are more likely to assume common child-raising tasks, than are the fathers of heterosexual couples.
Aren't homosexuals opposed to family values?
What the majority of gay people object to has nothing to do with the values families wish to instill in their children, but rather the narrow definition of family certain organizations wish to promote. The idea of a father, a mother, and their children, as being the only legitimate type of family is not only unrealistic in our society, but is demeaning to the millions of American families that do not meet this narrow definition. Single parent families, step families, adoptive families, extended families, and gay and lesbian families are all valid family units and deserve to be recognized as such. Traditional American values such as love, compassion, responsibility, honesty, integrity, self-reliance, accountability, and respect are values most parents wish to instill in their children, regardless of sexual orientation.
The American Home Economics Association and the American Association of Family and Consumer Science define the family unit as:
"two or more persons who share resources, share responsibility for decisions, share values and goals, and have commitment to one another over time. The family is that climate that one "comes home to" and it is this network of sharing and commitments that most accurately describes the family unit, regardless of blood, legal ties, adoption, or marriage."