Joining The Closet
Family After 9-
By: Ann C.
Camp Ten Trees is a non-profit American summer camp based in the Pacific Northwest that serves youth of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. The camp is two weeks long with one week dedicated to teens that identify as a sexual minority, and the other week is for children of lesbian or gay parents. The camp is run by members of the LGBT community and allies. Camp Ten Trees is a place for children with lesbian or gay parents to have support from other kids who are from non-traditional families, and it is also a place for them to have fun. To run around in the woods, roast marshmallows over a campfire, and to make new friends. The increasing number of non-traditional families is a reflection of the growth of our society, and the increasing acceptance of the right for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, to raise a family. Camp Ten Trees celebrates these kids and brings together a community that is bringing diversity to the nuclear family.
Opposition to the right for lesbians and gays to have children has traditionally come on three fronts. First, the belief that homosexuality is a mental disorder. Secondly, that allowing children to be raised by lesbian and gay parents will increase the likelihood that their children will also become lesbian or gay, and finally, the fear that children from non-traditional families will be socially ostracized and poorly adjusted. These fears are unfounded, and the numerous success stories of the children of lesbian and gay parents illustrate the ability of lesbians and gays to have happy, well adjusted, successful children.
In 1974 the American Psychological Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders, affirming that “homosexuality per se implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability, or general social or vocational capabilities” (American Psychological Association). Those who continue to believe that lesbians and gays are unfit to be parents because homosexuality is a mental disorder are operating on misinformation. The APA further asserts that “more than 35 years of objective, well-designed scientific research has shown that homosexuality, in and itself, is not associated with mental disorders or emotional or social problems” (American Psychological Association). Lesbians and gays are not suffering from any form of mental illness resulting from their sexual orientation that would exclude them from becoming successful parents.
-"Studies have shown that children of lesbian and gay parents grow up to be well adjusted, successful adults who do not show an additional tendency towards homosexuality."-
The second argument for excluding homosexuals from parenting is the belief that children of lesbians and gays will grow up to be gay themselves. Further studies conducted by the APA fail to confirm these fears. Some studies have indicated that in households with two moms, the sexual orientation of the child develops in the same way as a child being raised in a heterosexual household (American Psychological Association). Psychologists Susan Golombok, Ph.D., and Fiona Tasker, Ph.D., of City University, London, England authored a study of 27 lesbian mothers and their 39 children, and 27 heterosexual mothers and their 39 children from the age of ten. The study did not find that the children of lesbian mothers are more likely to be gay, but did find that the children were more likely to consider having a sexual experience with a person of the same sex (Selfhelp Magazine). However, it also found that the children of women, lesbian or heterosexual, who were open minded and accepting of homosexuality, were more likely to consider that they may at some time in the future be attracted to someone of the same sex. The study concluded that there was no indication that the sexual orientation of the parent influences the sexual orientation of the child.
Finally, the belief that children of lesbian and gay parents are poorly adjusted is also unfounded. Studies reported on by the APA assert that children of lesbian and gay parents show typical development in defining peer relations. Young children form primarily same sex peer groups, and have same sex best friends (American Psychological Association) Studies have shown that lesbian mothers on average were shown to have warm relationships with their children, and that children of divorced lesbian mothers were more likely to have had recent contact with their father’s then children of divorced heterosexual women (American Psychological Association). Further, as the children grew into adulthood, there was not a clear difference in the relationship children of lesbian mothers have with men, and the children of heterosexual parents. The APA asserts that there have been no studies that indicate that children of lesbian and gay parents will be poorly adjusted, or subjected to social ostracization (American Psychological Association).
As gay rights movements across the world are working toward equality and acceptance, the number of lesbian and gay parents is increasing. Marriage rights in parts of Europe, Canada, and the United States are ensuring that lesbian and gay couples are given the same rights as heterosexual couples. This has led to discussion about the impact of the sexual orientation of one’s parents on their children. Studies have shown that children of lesbian and gay parents grow up to be well adjusted, successful adults who do not show an additional tendency towards homosexuality.
The children at Camp Ten Trees have come to camp for a week of fun. The parents who love them have sent them off with the hopes that their children will play, explore, and grow. These are the same hopes that all parents have for their children, irregardless of sexual orientation.