Straight Allies – How straight parents can raise kids to be allies, during Pride Month and beyond

In a recent chat at our children’s school plant sale, a fellow parent shared some of the many ways their LGBTQ family loves to celebrate Pride Month each June, from wearing rainbow socks to hosting party nights.  Straight Allies welcome!

Although I write and speak regularly about parenting, sexuality and equality — and try year-round to teach my kids, 8 and 12, about inclusivity — hearing another parent describe Pride Month as “huge” for their family made me consider what more we could be doing as straight allies with my kids each June. Here’s what I learned when I went looking for ways all families can recognize LGBTQ Pride Month.straight allies

Learn and listen

Pride is not just a party. Some LGBTQ families and allies say they approach June not so much as a month of celebration but as a time to honor LGBTQ struggles, both historical and ongoing.

“The leap between being someone who’s kind of interested in the issue and being someone who is an active ally is an enthusiasm to learn,” PFLAG National’s Straight for Equality project says in a free online guide to being a straight ally. “Go online. Ask questions. Do some research. Reach out to other allies who might have grappled with the same challenge.”

The guide suggests studying a glossary of “gay-b-c’s” to get comfortable using the terms associated with the LGBTQ community. Straight allies and other parents sometimes ask how young is too young to teach children about gender diversity, sexual orientation and the many shapes families can take. Well before preschool, kids can grasp these basic concepts — and they’re usually quick to embrace messages that feel accepting, kind and fair. Starting an age-appropriate chat can be as simple as asking, “Did you know some families have two mommies? Or two daddies? Or one parent instead of two?”

“This is the month when your children of all ages will ask you questions about ‘what is LGBTQ?’ and ‘why the rainbows?,’ ” said Eliza Byard, the executive director of GLSEN, a national organization supporting K-12 LGBTQ students. “Be ready with a succinct and supportive answer for whatever level of development your child is at.”

Focus the message on other children’s experiences. Here are some examples: “What if you heard someone at a birthday party tell a boy he can’t have a pink balloon?” “Can you think of ways to make sure kids with two moms or two dads feel included in camp stories?” “Have you ever heard a classmate say ‘that’s so gay’ in a negative way? What could you do if you hear that again?” “Did you ever wonder what it might be like for a non-binary kid to have to choose every day between bathrooms marked ‘girls’ and ‘boys’? How could our community work together to make that easier?”

Greet Pride with a smile

Pride is solemn for some observers, but Andrea Hartsough, a San Francisco criminal defense attorney and lesbian mom of two, encourages families to go for the gusto and do whatever makes Pride Month fun.

WashingtonPost.com, by Bonnie J. Rough, June 14, 20`19

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House of Lords approves LGBT-inclusive relationships and sex education

The House of Lords has given its backing to new LGBT-inclusive guidance on compulsory relationships and sex education in English schools.

The House of Lords gave approval to new government guidance on relationships and LGBT inclusive sex education late on Wednesday (April 24), a month after the plan passed through the House of Commons by a vote of 538 to 21.LGBT inclusive sex education

The regulations passed through the Lords without a formal division due to overwhelming support, paving the way for the guidance to come into effect in schools for September 2020.

Education minister Lord Agnew of Oulton said: “There is no reason why teaching children about the diverse society that we live in, and the different types of loving and healthy relationships, cannot be done in a way that respects everybody’s views.

“Schools should ensure that the needs of all pupils are appropriately met and that all pupils understand the importance of equality and respect, in particular respect for difference.

“The new guidance is clear on the teaching about LGBT relationships expected in secondary schools and encouraged in primary while retaining the flexibility for head teachers to respond to the needs of their own schools.”

In a moving speech during the debate, gay Liberal Democrat peer Lord Scriven revealed he contemplated suicide as a teenager due to homophobia, and said he hopes the new LGBT-inclusive guidance helps others like him.

He said: “A lot has been spoken about the theory of relationships education, and people coming to terms with who they are and understanding the modern world.

“I was one of those 15 year olds who looked over the edge and contemplated suicide. Stories about the real world are far more important than theory.”

pinknews.co.uk, by Nick Duffy, April 25, 2019

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Americans’ views flipped on the gay rights movement. How did minds change so quickly?

Fifty years after police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Manhattan, spurring days of riots thatwould become a catalyst for the gay rights movement, the leap in public opinion has been followed by leaps on the ground, even as work remains.

A record number of LGBT candidates have been elected to Congress, Colorado elected the country’s first openly gay governor, Chicago has a lesbian mayor and the first openly gay Democratic candidate is running for president.  The gay rights movement has come a long way.gay rights movement

But while it’s clear that the gay rights movement managed to change people’s minds faster than any other civil rights movement in memory, it’s less clear why. How, in 15 years, did Americans’ views flip on such a charged social issue? And why haven’t other groups that have also publicly fought discrimination managed to change public opinion as quickly? The answer lies in human behavior and demographic realities, as well as a winning strategy by gay rights activists that capitalized on both.

Steve and Teri Augustine met, fell in love and got married in a conservative evangelical Christian community. They grew up believing homosexuality was a sin, and that the “gay agenda” was an attack on their values.

Then, six years ago, their son Peter — their youngest child who loved theater and his church youth group — returned home to Ellicott City, Md., from his freshman year of college and came out to his family as gay.

Teri asked her son not to tell anyone else, and drove herself to a mall parking lot to cry. Steve questioned his son’s faith, reciting Bible passages from Corinthians. The Augustines decided to put their son through a year of conversion therapy, determined to “set him straight.”

But after the therapy failed, something changed. Steve and Teri Augustine started meeting Peter’s friends and inviting other gay Christians to dinner. Two summers after Peter came out, the family stood on the sidelines of the Capital Pride parade wearing rainbow beads and shirts with the words “I’m sorry.” Teri now hosts a support group for Christian moms of LGBTQ children.

“I knew that if I was going to get a handle on who my son was,” Teri said, “I really needed to step into that world.”

The transformation in the Augustine family parallels a shift in public opinion that social scientists say is unlike any other of our time.

As recently as 2004, polls showed that the majority of Americans — 60 percent — opposed same-sex marriage, while only 31 percent were in favor, according to the Pew Research Center. Today, those numbers are reversed : 61 percent support same-sex marriage, while 31 percent oppose it.

“You can’t find another issue where attitudes have shifted so rapidly,” said Don Haider-Markel, a political science professor at the University of Kansas who has studied public opinion of LGBT rights over the years.

What’s perhaps most surprising is that support for same-sex marriage has increased among nearly all demographic groups, across different generations, partisan lines and religious faiths. Even among the most resistant religious group, white evangelical Protestants like the Augustine family, support for same-sex marriage has grown from 11 percent in 2004 to 29 percent in 2019, according to Pew.

WashingtonPost.com, by Samantha Schmidt, June 7, 2019

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Civil rights groups sue over Trump foster care policies

Civil rights groups are filing a lawsuit against the Trump foster care policies and the state of South Carolina, alleging the governments are making it easier for taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against same-sex and non-evangelical couples.

Thursday’s lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Lambda Legal was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina on behalf of a married lesbian couple. Eden Rogers and Brandy Welch were turned away by Miracle Hill Ministries, South Carolina’s largest state-contracted, federally-funded foster care agency.  The suit targets Trump foster care policies.Trump foster care policies

The lawsuit comes after the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) earlier this year granted a waiver to a faith-based adoption agency in South Carolina that allows it to continue turning away same-sex and non-Christian couples while receiving federal money.

The ACLU and Lambda Legal said the federal waiver means the administration is condoning discrimination, and the lawsuit said the use of religious eligibility criteria is unconstitutional.

“This practice harms vulnerable children by denying them access to the loving families they desperately need and limits opportunities for would-be foster parents to participate in the public child welfare system on the basis of religion and sexual orientation,” the lawsuit said.

According to the groups, in order to foster through Miracle Hill, a family must agree with Miracle Hill’s “doctrinal statement,” including “that God’s design for marriage is the legal joining of one man and one woman in a life-long covenant relationship.”

Miracle Hill has said they refer couples who do not meet their criteria to other agencies, but the lawsuit noted those other couples are offered only a limited set of options, and are excluded from the state’s largest agency with potentially the most support to offer adoptive couples.

“Trump’s HHS and South Carolina should not be permitting foster care agencies that receive taxpayer money to care for wards of the state to disqualify potential foster parents because they don’t conform to a religious litmus test,” said Currey Cook, counsel at Lambda Legal. “Agencies have no right to exclude families because of their faith or sexual orientation.”

Recent reports suggest the administration is planning to release a new rule as early as this summer that would make it easier for federally-funded foster care facilities to deny services to same-sex couples.

TheHill.com, May 30, 2019, by Matthew Weixal

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David Strah Shares His Experiences Raising a Trans Son on Latest Episode of Daddy Square

Author David Strah sat down with the Daddy Square guys to talk about fatherhood, his book, and experiences raising a trans son.

Here’s a fact: gay parents are much more attentive to their kids’ gender expressions than heterosexual parents. Just from the nature of growing up different, sometimes in an unwelcoming environment, we don’t want our kids to suffer the emotional pain that we went through.David Strah

This is a partial explanation for an amazing growing phenomenon, where gay couples step forward and adopt transgender youth who were thrown out of their homes. In this episode of Daddy Squared we brought on David Strah, a family therapist from Los Angeles who specializes in LGBTQ issues. David is also a father of a transgender boy, and shares from his own personal experience.

“It’s sort of a myth that trans people or trans kids come out and say ‘this is the way I am’ at age 2,” David explains. “There are normally a few things that happen or that show up, and sometimes it means that they are going to be trans and sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes it means that they’re going to be somewhere in the middle. I think it’s about educating ourselves, about being sensitive, about creating a household that’s trans friendly, talking about things, really getting in front of the issues, talking about the gender spectrum – all the differences, and how it is a spectrum and you don’t have to be one way or the other. You can be somewhere in between or you can lean towards being a boy or lean towards being a girl and then another day you can decide to do something different.”

David thinks it’s really important to listen to our kids and if they’re saying something very clearly, to really respond to that and cooperate with them.

“I think that when my younger son, when he was a girl, probably at around 5 or 6, he definitely wanted to wear boys underwear, briefs,” David shares. “So we went out to the Gap and bought boys’ briefs and we were absolutely fine with that. We didn’t really know what it meant but we felt that he was directing that and that’s something he wanted to do so we did it, and at that time, to be perfectly honest, we thought, well, he’s got two dads and a big brother so he probably wants to wear underwear like he sees on other people in his family.

“There was another time, around Rosh Hashanah, and she needed a new dress. She absolutely refused to wear a dress, she wanted a suit, so we said okay, and went to J. Crew and bought a suit and we said ‘but you have to wear a flower on the lapelle – which was kinda silly in retrospect on our part—but that was a compromise, she was very happy and she looked very chic.”

Click here to listen to the Daddy Squared Podcast.

GaysWithKids.com by Yanir Dekel, May 29, 2019

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Alabama Same-Sex Marriages: Alabama passes law to eliminate marriage licenses to spite same-sex couples

Lawmakers have passed legislation that would eliminate marriage licenses in the state. The measure is widely seen as a punitive attack on the LGBTQ community after the Supreme Court legalized Alabama same-sex marriages years ago.

A license would no longer be required to get married under the new law. Instead, couples would file an affidavit that they were married and it would be recorded.

Judges in the state have been using a loophole to refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples already. The law says probate judges “may” issue licenses but does not require them to do so. Some judges refuse and couples have to go to a different judge to get the license.

The bill’s author, Republican state senator Greg Albritton, has pushed the bill since the court ruling. This is the first time it has passed both chambers. It now awaits Governor Kay Ivey’s signature.

Ivey, a far right Republican, recently signed the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws despite national outcry from both sides of the aisle. The measure effectively outlaws abortion – even in cases of rape and incest. She is expected to sign this bill as well.

Albritton has been trying to sell the legislation as a way to “respect” marriage equality by removing government permission altogether.

May 24, 2019, by Bill Browning, LGBTQNation.com

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Transgender dads tell doctors: ‘You can be a man and have a baby’

Transgender dads say they face misinformation, bias and a lack of understanding from the medical establishment when they decide to start a family.

When transgender dads, like Jay Thomas, 33, decide to get pregnant in 2016, he spoke to his physician.transgender dad

Thomas, a cook who lives in Louisville, Kentucky, explained to his doctor that he and his wife, Jamie Brewster, 33, a bank employee, are both transgender, and that he had been on testosterone for more than two years. The physician said Thomas had likely gone through early menopause, and that if they were able to conceive at all, he would have to go off the hormone for at least 18 months.

But none of that turned out to be true, according to Thomas, who gave birth to the couple’s son Dorian, 2, less than a year after that doctor’s appointment.

“We got pregnant in three months,” Thomas said.

One of the most persistent myths transgender men and nonbinary people hear from doctors is that testosterone has sterilized them, experts say. While testosterone generally blocks ovulation, trans men can get pregnant while taking it, particularly if they are not taking it regularly.

It’s just one example of the misinformation and discouragement transgender men say they face from the medical establishment when they decide to get pregnant — a problem advocates and experts blame on a lack of training and research around transgender health care, as well as doctors’ biases.

There is no data on how many transgender men and nonbinary people give birth in the United States each year, because medical systems track them as female, but experts believe the numbers are likely higher than many would expect. The number of people who identify as transgender is growing: A 2016 study from the Williams Institute found that 1.4 million adults in the U.S identify as transgender, which was double the estimate based on data from a decade earlier.

In Australia, where government agencies began tracking both sex and gender in official records in 2013, 54 transgender men gave birth in 2014, according to statistics from the country’s universal health care system. And a Dutch study published in the journal Human Reproduction in 2011 found that a majority of trans men reported wanting families.

But doctors, nurses and medical office staff are still adjusting to the idea that those who are pregnant may not identify as women. Transgender and nonbinary people describe gaps in medical professionals’ understanding ranging from an ultrasound technician calling them by the wrong name to doctors who tell them hormone therapy probably ruined their fertility. The consequences can be dire. A recently published case study described a transgender man who went to an emergency room with severe abdominal pain — but doctors were slow to realize that he was pregnant and in danger. The man delivered a stillborn baby several hours later.

nbcnews.com, May 19, 2019 by Julie Compton

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Legal Basics for LGBTQ Parents

It’s never been easier for LGBTQ people to become parents.

We can now adopt and serve as foster parents in every state in the country. Thanks to advancements in assisted reproductive technology, otherwise known as ART, and innovative co-parenting and known-donor arrangements, we’re also having biological children in greater numbers. llgbtq parentingDespite this progress, a complex network of state laws, regulations and restrictions affect many of our most common paths to parenthood, meaning would-be LGBTQ. parents can face a far more complicated legal landscape than our straight counterparts. 

Legal concerns for LGBTQ people are generally impacted by three factors: the state you live in, your preferred path to parenthood and your relationship status. To gain a better understanding of each, I interviewed four experts at some of the country’s top LGBTQ legal and policy organizations.

THE GIST

  • Know the laws in your state; your legal outlook can vary widely depending on where you live. 
  • Your preferred path to parenthood (donor arrangements, adoption or fostering) will present you with a specific set of legal considerations. 
  • Other legal concerns arise depending on your relationship status: whether you’re single, in an unmarried relationship or married.
  • If you are not biologically related to your child, legal experts recommend taking steps to protect your legal status as a parent, even if you’re married to your child’s biological parent. 
  • Parenthood for LGBTQ people doesn’t always come cheap — but there are some ways to offset the costs. 
  • If you encounter obstacles, don’t give up. An experienced family lawyer is often familiar with legal workarounds, even in states with unfavorable laws for the LGBTQ community.

NYTParenting.com by David Dodge, May 7, 2019

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Americans Show Broad Support for LGBT Nondiscrimination Protections

Across Lines of Party, Demographics, and Geography, Americans Broadly Support Nondiscrimination Protections for LGBT People

gay america

Americans remain supportive of broad nondiscrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Nearly seven in ten (69%) Americans favor laws that would protect LGBT people from discrimination in the job market, public accommodations, and housing.

Support by Age Group

Younger Americans are 17 percentage points more likely than older Americans to say they support laws protecting LGBT people from various forms of discrimination. More than three-quarters (76%) of younger Americans (ages 18-29) favor such laws, compared to (59%) of seniors (ages 65 and older).

Support by Political Party and Ideology

Support for nondiscrimination protections enjoys broad support across the political spectrum. Majorities of Democrats (79%), independents (70%), and Republicans (56%) say they favor laws that would shield LGBT people from various kinds of discrimination. While support among Democrats and independents has remained relatively constant, Republican support for these provisions has fallen five percentage points over the past few years, down from (61%)  in 2015.

Majorities of liberals (81%), moderates (76%), and conservatives (55%) all favor nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people.

Ideological differences are more pronounced among Democrats and independents than among Republicans. The biggest intra-party divide is among Democrats: Liberal Democrats (87%) are likelier than moderate (76%) and conservative (61%) Democrats to favor nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBT people. Liberal (79%) and moderate (78%) independents are also likelier than conservative independents (58%) to support nondiscrimination protections.

Notably, self-identified moderate Republicans (69%) are likelier than self-identified liberal Republicans (59%) or conservative Republicans (53%) to favor laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination. Conservative Democrats (61%) are about as likely as liberal Republicans (59%) to favor nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people.

PRRI.org, March 12, 2019 by
Daniel GreenbergEmma BeyerMaxine Najle, PhDOyindamola BolaRobert P. Jones, PhD

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New Report Shows International Adoption Edging Closer To Extinction

The industry’s overregulation is making it increasingly difficult for willing families to take the plunge and attempt international adoption.

Rachel Garber always knew she wanted to adopt a child. Besides having grown up with five adopted siblings, in 2007 she made a memorable trip to the Chinese city of Xi’an, where she spent a month volunteering at a home for abandoned babies. “During this trip my feelings on adoption were solidified,” she says. “I met my husband Ryan in 2010, and he knew right away that if we got married, we would end up going to China for a child.”

While those plans were temporarily put on hold after their son Nixon was born with special needs, in 2017 the Garbers were finally matched with a little boy in China. After committing to his file, they learned that he was from the very city where Rachel had previously volunteered: Xi’an. “It was meant to be,” she says.

Rachel and Ryan brought their second son, Nolan, home from China to Wyoming last year. Today he is 3 1/2 years old and thriving. His mom describes him as “very loving and yet very strong-willed!” A nearby doctor happens to be the foremost authority in Nolan’s area of medical need. “From the moment we met our son, he has been a joy,” Rachel says. “We have had many hard days, or days where I question my ability, but I can’t imagine our life without him.”

In a nation where tens of thousands of families have adopted children from overseas, the Garbers’ story may sound familiar. But it is a story that is growing increasingly rare. International adoptions to America have been falling dramatically for the past 15 years, and a recent report shows that the decline hasn’t slowed.

The U.S. Department of State’s annual intercountry adoption report to Congress, released in March, shows that Nolan Garber was one of just 4,059 children adopted from overseas in FY 2018. This represents a 13 percent decline since the prior year, an 82 percent decline since intercountry adoption’s peak in 2004, and a new historic low.

Why Is International Adoption Disappearing?

In its report, the Department of State (DOS)—which functions as the U.S. authority over international adoption—offers a few explanations for the latest decline. It notes that the largest decrease last year occurred in China, where the communist government has been suppressing the activities of all foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

TheFederalist.com, By Wendy Metzgar, April 2, 2019

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