Some people in Hawaii are also trying to update that state’s parentage laws to allow make it easier for same-sex couples to establish parentage when a child is born (see my article here). A proposed bill was amended so that it now simply establishes a task force on the issue, which at least keeps the idea alive. Apparently some people were offended by the use of the term “cisheteronormative” in the original bill.
The Nebraska Supreme Court unanimously overturned a lower court ruling that had prevented a two-women couple from adopting the 3-year-old who had lived with them from birth. The lower court judge had said last year that state adoption law forbids a “wife and wife” from adopting, and to rule otherwise would make the court into an “imagination station.” The state Supreme Court kindly pointed out that the law says children “may be adopted by any adult person or persons,” and if that person has “a husband or wife,” the spouse must also join in the petition. Equality! Imagine that!
New guidance that requires LGBT-inclusive education in England, Scotland, and Wales is “a huge step forward,” reports GQ UK, but although it “makes teaching LGBT-inclusive relationship and sex education compulsory, there remains no legal impetus for the teaching of wider LGBT issues or history.”
Two Irish women have become the first same-sex couple in the country to be legally recognized as the parents of their children from birth, after the full enactment last May of the 2015 Child and Family Relationships Act, which allows them both to be on their children’s birth certificates without a court process. (My usual cautionary note to same-sex couples in the U.S.: Being on your child’s birth certificate as a nongestational/nonbiological parent is important, but not enough for ironclad legal recognition across the country.)
Italy’s Constitutional Court has said the country needs a law protecting the rights of children of same-sex couples, but did not rule on the parental rights of plaintiffs in two cases—a pair of dads seeking legal recognition after becoming parents through surrogacy, and a nonbiological mom seeking parental rights after breaking up with the biological mom. Gianfranco Goretti, president of Famiglie Arcobaleno (Rainbow Families), the country’s organization for LGBTQ families, said in a statement, “Even the Council recognizes that our sons and daughters are without rights. It is only regrettable that, after having ruled this, the Court did not want to go further, leaving our families once again without the rights and duties that are recognized to other couples.” [“Anche la Consulta riconosce che i nostri figli e le nostre figlie sono senza diritti. Spiace solo che, dopo aver sentenziato questo, la Corte non si sia voluta spingere più in là, lasciando ancora una volta le nostre famiglie prive dei diritti e dei doveri che invece sono riconosciuti alle altre coppie.”]
Poland has banned people in same-sex couples from adopting, even if they are applying to adopt as single parents.
Education and Schools
The Leander school district in Texas has removed a number of books from the book-club-style units of its middle and high school English classes. “The books tagged for removal are primarily LGBTQ stories and graphic novels, as well as books that deal with sexual assault,” reports the National Coalition Against Censorship.
Entertainment and Media
The Gainesville Sun marked recent the 25th anniversary of The Birdcage, the hit 1996 film starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane, about two gay men, a drag club owner and a drag queen, whose grown son asks them to tone down their flamboyance when meeting his fiancée and her conservative parents. The article speculates that the film might not only have boosted the reputations of its stars, but “may have helped make mainstream the idea of a non-heterosexual family.” Without minimizing the movie’s impact, I’ll also give credit to the 1993 Newsweek cover story about lesbians, which noted, “There have always been lesbian parents, but in previous decades they tended to be women who discovered their sexuality some time after marriage and motherhood. Increasingly, there are lesbian couples who are becoming mothers together.”
A few news items on queer parents that I haven’t covered elsewhere!
Politics and Law
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) has directed the state’s Department of Financial Services to ensure that insurers begin covering fertility services immediately for same sex couples who wish to start a family. Current insurance law requires insurers to cover infertility services, but same-sex couples must sometimes pay six or 12 months of out-of-pocket expenses for fertility (to prove their “infertility,” which in many cases is only because they are a same-sex couple) before qualifying for coverage. Some individual corporations have started offering such coverage, but I believe New York is the first state in the nation to require this.
Last December, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take a case in which Indiana was trying to deny the right of married nonbiological mothers in same-sex couples to be recognized as legal parents by being put on their children’s birth certificates. Now, an Indiana legislator has filed a bill that would require birth certificates to record the names of a child’s biological parents or, if the biological parents are unknown, the names of the presumptive parents. Luckily, attorneys for the plaintiffs in the earlier case say they don’t think it has much chance of passage.
Irish mom and activist Ranae von Meding writes in the Washington Blade about her and her wife’s Audrey’s struggle, first, to start a family through reciprocal IVF (her womb, Audrey’s eggs), then to secure legal parental recognition for Audrey, which they have been unable to do yet. Even if they are recognized, she says, they will keep fighting “until every child of an LGBTQ+ parent in Ireland has the same rights and protections as any other child in the country.” Newstalk has another interview with her and with a two-dad couple in Ireland who became parents through surrogacy and are similarly fighting for recognition, but are all currently in a “legal limbo” that hinders their ability to get basic documentation and benefits for their children.
Tarini Mehta offers an overview at The Print on policies and attitudes about queer parents in India.
Gay dad Tyler Curry asks at the Advocate, “Exactly what, if any, impact does my male gender identity have on my role as a parent?” He concludes, “It isn’t that I believe in such strict gender roles in parenting. Quite the opposite. But if growing up with two dads means a constant question of who is filling that “mom” role in her life. Then to hell with it, I am Mom. Yeah, I am also Dad. But if for some reason being Mom has some different, more legitimate meaning when it comes to my daughter’s foundation of parents, then I am that too.” It’s a thoughtful take on gender and parenting.
Health Care and Inclusion
Finally, in very important news for all the soccer moms out there, U.S. Women’s National Team members Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger are now parents! They adopted a child last week. Harris wrote a letter to the child’s birth mom, which she shared on Instagram, saying in part, “We promise Sloane will be loved every single day by us, our friends and our family…. We promise to share her adoption story with her from the very beginning and celebrate every milestone! We promise to encourage her to follow her dreams no matter how big or small. We promise to be open minded and respect your wishes to have future communication and that she will always know how much you love her!”
The Swedish government is working to make the nation’s legislation, including its Parental Code, gender neutral, says Sputnik News.
Ron and Fabian Eckstrom-French, a two-dad couple who had become legal parents through surrogacy in the U.S., still had to go through an adoption process for those same children when they moved to New Zealand, explains Stuff. Last week, New Zealand’s Law Commission started a review of the country’s surrogacy laws, and the Eckstrom-French’s situation shows why change is needed.
An Israeli legislative committee will soon consider a draft bill that would allow same-sex couples in Israel to be equally eligible to adopt children. Currently, same-sex couples can be approved for adoption, “but in practice only a handful of such couples have adopted children in the past decade,” reports the Times of Israel, noting that same-sex couples have been treated unequally by only being offered older children and those with special needs.
Freddy McConnell, a transgender man in the U.K., has lost his final legal appeal to be named the father, rather than the mother, of his child. (Here’s more on McConnell and the film about his journey to become a parent.)
Parents in Power
Julia Hoggett has become not only the first-ever out gay chief executive of the London Stock Exchange (LSE), but the first gay parent, PinkNews notes. She has two children with her ex-wife, and splits her time between London, where she lives with her current partner, and Dublin, where the children live with her ex. Among her many career achievements, she has “campaigned to reduce barriers for women returning to work after childbirth.”
Tired of election news? Here are some recent profiles of LGBTQ families, musings on the path forward for LGBTQ parental rights in the U.S., and news about LGBTQ families from around the world!
Journalist (and transgender parent) Dawn Ennis interviewed actor, comedian, and lesbian mom Tig Notaro for Forbes, asking the excellent question, “How Does She Juggle ‘Star Trek,’ A Podcast And 4-Year-Old Twins?”
Ennis also interviewed videogame icon and transgender parent Becky Heineman (whom you may have seen recently on Netflix’s High Score) for Outsports.
Angela Chen of The Atlantic spoke with David Jay, founder of the Asexual Visibility and Education Network, about his legal three-parent family.
Heather Chauvin of the Mom Is In Control podcast spoke with transgender advocate and parent Trystan Reese on “Navigating Pregnancy As a Man.”
Over in Taiwan, some parents are protesting their government’s distribution of King & King, a picture book about two princes who fall in love, to six- and seven-year-old students last month as part of an optional, extracurricular reading program. Taiwan last year became the first place in Asia to allow same-sex couples to marry.
A bonded male pair of African penguins have stolen an egg from a bonded female couple at a zoo in the Netherlands, HuffPo reports. High drama—although the fact is, a zoo spokesperson said, they are most likely unfertilized and will not hatch.
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If you don’t follow @Queerty on Instagram, you’re only getting half the story. Here’s a taste of what’s been bubbling over on our feed in August. From Taylor Swift and Dolly Parton making big statements, to LGBTQ folks and allies at the DNC, to more #Mask4Mask pics, 2020 continues to be a roller coaster of a year.
Each week we feature a mix of stories from the site, photos we love, and Instagrammers we know you’ll love.
Want to get featured? Tag @Queerty and use #queerty in your posts and get on our radar!
Oh, and while we have your attention, please make sure you are registered and have a plan for how you are going to vote in this year’s election. The clock is ticking!
Kamala became the nominee. Officially.
Dolly said Black Lives Matter
When Angelica met Kamala
Levi and Chico practiced safe sets (at the gym)
Judy and Dennis Shepherd nominated Joe Biden for North Dakota
Gia Gunn & Seth G got out the vote
Pete reminded us about Biden’s contribution to marriage equality
Michelle Obama reminded us she’s amazing
Taylor Swift opened the library
The Covid Destroyers went to work
Trixie Mattel & Biqtch Puddin’ returned with a new THAT’S OUR SALLY
It’s a school year like no other, so here’s my updated annual collection of back-to-school resources for LGBTQ parents, parents of LGBTQ children, and educators! I hope it remains useful, regardless of the age of your children and whether they are learning in-person, virtually, or both.
For All Ages—General
GLSEN prides itself on “Championing LGBTQ issues in K-12 education since 1990.” They offer a wealth of resources, some of which are further detailed in the sections to follow.
Our Family Coalition, the organization for LGBTQ families in California, offers a number of school-related resources, including training and professional development for families, teachers, administrators, and child-serving professionals; a list of schools that have had such trainings; and an annual LGBTQ-Inclusive Preschool Fair for parents looking for a school for their children. They also manage Teaching LGBTQ History, which provides lesson plans and other resources to fulfill the curricular requirements of the FAIR Education Act.
Family Equality has several handbooks and factsheets that offer many specific suggestions for communicating with your children’s school(s).
GLSEN also manages a number of programs/events to engage school communities of all grades throughout the academic year, including Ally Week, ThinkB4YouSpeak, the Day of Silence, No Name-Calling Week, and the Safe Space Kit.
PFLAG’s Safe Schools for All: Cultivating Respect program has similar materials (in English and Spanish) for making schools safer, reducing bullying, and providing comprehensive health education. They also offer a certification program for PFLAG members who want to assist with staff training and policy creation in local schools.
The 2018 LGBTQ Youth Report from the HRC Foundation and the University of Connecticut is a survey of more than 12,000 LGBTQ teenagers across the nation about their daily lives at home, at school, and in their communities.
For All Ages—Specific to Transgender and Nonbinary Students
Schools In Transition: A Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 Schools, is a free guide aimed at helping administrators, teachers, and parents provide “safe and supportive school environments for transgender students.” Co-authored by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Gender Spectrum, the National Education Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, it discusses basic concepts, general guidelines for meeting the needs of transgender youth, specific issues impacting them, best practices, and the legal landscape.
Gender Spectrum’s education section has classroom discussion ideas, information about teacher training, school policy suggestions, and more about gender identity and expression, in addition to many other useful resources for parents, teachers, health care professionals, and others.
The Queering Education Research Institute (QuERI) is an independent think-tank, qualitative research, policy, and training center dedicated to bridging the gap between research and practice in the teaching of LGBTQ students and the creation of LGBTQ youth affirming school environments. They offer professional development courses and more.
The Stonewall National Education Project, part of the Stonewall National Museum and Archives, advocates for “the safety, inclusion, and value of LGBTQ students.” They host an annual symposium for more than 150 school district leaders, federal and state agencies, not-for-profit organizations, and university offices.
The American Library Association’s Rainbow List offers LGBTQ-inclusive children’s and young adult books chosen by a committee of librarians for quality as well as content. See also the lists from Family Equality and Welcoming Schools.
You may also want to encourage your school library to purchase Jaime Campbell Naidoo’s Rainbow Family Collections, an annotated guide to nearly 250 LGBTQ-inclusive books and media for children through grade five. It’s a few years old at this point (2012), though still invaluable.
Queer Books for Teens, compiled by a team of librarians and other book experts, is “a comprehensive list of all LGBTQIAP+ YA titles published between 2000 and 2017. It includes all major and indie U.S. presses and selective self-published material.” The creators note, however, that in such a comprehensive list, many of these books are “problematic in someway,” so they also offer several “Best of Lists” on various sub-topics.
YA Pride also covers numerous LGBTQ-inclusive young adult titles.
LGBTQAI+Books for Children and Teens, by Christina Dorr and Liz Deskins (American Library Association, 2018), is a compact guide with suggested books for young, middle grade, and teen readers, along with descriptive blurbs and discussion questions. This book is likely to be in a lot of school libraries, given its publisher, and its heart is in the right place—but there are a number of errors in it (notably one where they misgender a transgender girl character), so readers should exercise caution—I’ve detailed the errors here.
Books for Grown-Ups on LGBTQ Inclusion and Schools
Reading the Rainbow: LGBTQ-Inclusive Literacy Instruction in the Elementary Classroom(Teachers College Press and GLSEN, 2018) by Caitlin L. Ryan and Jill M. Hermann-Wilmarth, is aimed at helping elementary school English language arts (ELA) teachers introduce or deepen classroom discussions around LGBTQ identity and gender. It’s full of practical tips and ideas backed by curricular standards and classroom experience—but even if you’re not a teacher (or teach another subject), it may provide much food for thought. Importantly, it offers tools for teachers who may have varying degrees of experience or comfort in addressing LGBTQ topics, and also shows how classrooms could become more inclusive even in schools resistant to such topics.
Queer Adolescent Literature as a Complement to the English Language Arts Curriculum(Rowman & Littlefield, 2018), edited by by Paula Greathouse, Brooke Eisenbach, and Joan F. Kaywell, offers 6th to 12th grade ELA educators guided instructional approaches for including queer-themed young adult literature to their classroom. Each chapter, by a different leading researcher or theorist, focuses on one queer-themed YA novel and includes activities to guide students.
Rethinking Sexism, Gender, and Sexuality(2016), Rethinking Schools’ volume of essays from a wide range of teachers and educators, covers LGBTQ topics as well as ones related to gender and sexism in general.
Safe Is Not Enough: Better Schools for LGBTQ Students(Harvard Education Press, 2016), by Michael Sadowski, looks at how educators across the U.S. are creating LGBTQ-inclusive curricula and school climates, providing adults mentors and role models, and building family and community outreach programs. It’s a useful volume of ideas and solutions beyond just anti-bullying policies.
Groundspark has produced a commendable series of LGBTQ-inclusive diversity-education films and curriculum guides. The Groundspark website appears defunct as of this writing; links here are to Kanopy, a film service that many people may have access to via their public libraries or universities, and to distributor New Day Films (for rental by a library/group, etc.) The films include That’s a Family (Kanopy/New Day), for elementary school students, about different family structures; Let’s Get Real (Kanopy/New Day), for middle schoolers, about name-calling and bullying; It’s STILL Elementary (Kanopy/New Day), for and about educators discussing gay issues in schools; and Straightlaced (Kanopy/New Day), for teens, about the pressure of gender stereotypes.
GLSEN’s 2017 National School Climate Survey found that more than 40 percent of LGBTQ students said they avoided locker rooms, nearly the same amount avoided physical education or gym classes, and about one quarter avoided school athletic fields or facilities because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable. An older (2008) GLSEN study found that some students were told they should not do sports, or had their athletic abilities questioned, because they had LGBT parents.
GLSEN’s Changing the Game project is backed by a coalition of athletes, journalists, and sports figures. It features resources for athletes, athletic administrators, coaches, and parents, inspirational videos about people making a difference, and the Team Respect Challenge pledge.
Athlete Ally, founded by straight college wrestling coach Hudson Taylor (a former three-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler), runs public awareness campaigns and educational programs, and mobilizes ally Ambassadors in collegiate, professional and Olympic sports.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights has long been a powerhouse of advocacy and education on sports and more, and offers legal assistance to LGBTQ athletes and coaches.
Not in Our Town offers training, films, lesson plans, resources, and more (including some materials in Spanish) to help students and teachers create “safe, accepting and inclusive school communities.” It’s not exclusive to anti-LGBTQ bullying, but they have LGBTQ-inclusive materials, including “Our Family: A Film About Family Diversity,” a free YouTube video made in partnership with Our Family Coalition.
Stopbullying.gov has many good general resources about bullying and cyberbullying. It seems to still have Obama-era content on LGBT youth, however, so use with care, especially on legal matters, as things may have changed. (See below for some legal resources.)
GLAAD organizes the annual Spirit Day each fall as a sign of support for bullied LGBTQ youth.
The It Gets Better project continues to spread messages and videos of hope to bullied LGBTQ youth.
Beyond Differences is a student-led organization that works to “inspire students at all middle schools nationwide to end social isolation and create a culture of belonging for everyone.” They organize several national days of awareness and action throughout the year.
When all else fails, several organizations offer legal assistance to LGBTQ youth and others, often in school settings. Links are to their youth-specific pages, when available.
Personally, I try to approach the new school year in a spirit of opportunity, not trepidation. Our common goal as parents, teachers, and school administrators is to educate all children in a safe, supportive, and welcoming environment. That gives us reason to unite across our differences.
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Even in the middle of summer, things are happening! This week’s roundup is heavily (but not exclusively) about entertainment news—lighter fare, perhaps, but also touching on the important topic of representation.
Entertainment and Media
Netflix’s new show The Baby-Sitter’s Club includes an episode in which one of the main characters is asked to sit for a young transgender girl, played by 9-year-old transgender actress Kai Shappley. Netflix writer and trans woman Rose Dommu said the episode “made me cry happy tears.”
TLC has premiered “My Pregnant Husband,” which shares the journeys of two transgender couples on their way to parenthood.
IndieWire interviewed Doc McStuffins creator and lesbian mom Chris Nee about her deal with Netflix that “positions her well on her way to becoming the Shonda Rhimes or Ryan Murphy of kids TV.” Among other things, Nee related why she pushed for the inclusion of a same-sex family on Disney Junior’s Doc McStuffins in 2017 (about which more here): “I said, ‘I’m constantly doing press, talking about how important it is to see yourself onscreen and what that means to kids, and yet I can’t talk about my own family. I just said ‘I’m done, we’re putting a same sex family on the air.’”
Has it really been 10 years since The Kids Are All Right, the movie about a two-mom family in which one of the moms has an affair with their children’s sperm donor? Variety spoke with writers Lisa Cholodenko (a Real Lesbian Mom) and Stuart Blumberg, along with the film’s stars, about their reflections on the movie. Love it or hate it, this was the first major feature film to center an LGBTQ family, and one with older kids, no less.
GLAAD’s 2020 Studio Responsibility Index, which looks at LGBTQ representation in films, notes that there were only two LGBTQ-inclusive animated and family films in 2019, but the inclusive moments were “incredibly minor.” They opine, “Film should look to the boom and success of queer and trans representation in all ages programming happening on TV.” (Hear, hear!)
Politics and Law
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