Category Archives: News

Stonewall publishes groundbreaking research examining the experiences of children with gay parents.

Stonewall today publishes groundbreaking research examining the experiences of children with gay parents. ‘Different Families’ is based on interviews conducted by the University of Cambridge with over 80 children and young people from the age of four, all of whom have lesbian and gay parents. The research also provides shocking insights into the prevalence of homophobia in Britain’s schools, including primary schools. The children who experience this, although not gay themselves, identify that many schools still don’t address it.

‘We still do things together, and we’re still a big family and we’re still happy … and we still care for each other and we’re still there when someone needs someone.’ Jasmin, 8

‘I just feel there’s some difference between the other families and us. The way we all work together … We all link up like a puzzle.’ Eleanor, 8

Ben Summerskill, Stonewall Chief Executive said; ‘For the children of lesbian and gay parents their families look remarkably like everyone else’s. This research highlights how it’s the prejudices of others which often causes them far more distress than their own personal or family characteristics – and is further evidence of the urgent need to tackle homophobia in our schools.’

Among the report’s recommendations, some of which were made by the children interviewed, are for schools to respond robustly to homophobic language and bullying. YouGov polling commissioned last year by Stonewall showed that anti-gay bullying is almost endemic in Britain’s schools. Nine in ten secondary schools teachers reported that children – regardless of their sexual orientation – currently experience homophobic bullying in their schools. This affects children of gay parents too:

‘Sometimes they say … everybody’s got a dad, he must be dead, or something. I say no, he’s not dead, I’ve got a donor dad … sometimes I get teased by them calling my dad a donut dad … They say … I know what gay means, it’s two naked men dancing around on a boat.’ Mark, 8

‘In school I don’t like it how people make fun of gay people. Like when they say “that’s so gay”. Most people say it as a joke, and it’s not funny at all.’ Maheen, 13

‘She said, ‘well your mum’s gay, so why aren’t you?’ … and then it turned to really nasty comments about my mum. Oh your mum’s an effing dyke and all this stuff and I just thought that’s not on … I just ignored it, but it just got worse.’ Meg, 16

‘Normally people just say like … “gay dad” … and stuff like that. Normally I try and say something back because it like makes me feel better. Or I just try and ignore it. That’s harder obviously … The teachers tell them off but … secretly they always carry on.’ William, 15

source and to download the paper: http://www.stonewall.org.uk/media/current_releases/3966.asp

Children of lesbian couples ‘have fewer behaviour problems’

A 17-year study into families headed by lesbian parents has found that their children have fewer behavioural problems, get better results and are more psychologically sound than children brought up by straight parents.

Researchers at the University of California followed 78 children born to lesbian mothers from birth to the age of 17.

They also found the children were less likely than those with straight parents to behave aggressively or break rules.

The mothers were asked to rate their children on their behaviour, aggression and school marks, while the teenagers were rated with the Child Behavior Checklist, a standardised assessment. Each teenager also filled out an internet-based psychological questionnaire.

Study leader Nanette Gartrell said: “Contrary to assertions from people opposed to same-sex parenting, we found that the 17-year-olds scored higher in psychological adjustment in areas of competency and lower in problem behaviours than the normative age-matched sample of kids raised in traditional families with a mum and a dad.”

“These are not accidental children,” she told WebMD Health News. “The mums tended to be older and attended parenting classes. They were very involved in the process of education [for their children].”

“They anticipated their kids would experience stigmatisation.”

The study did find that children who experienced homophobia had higher levels of depression and anxiety.

Knowing their biological father made no impact on children’s happiness and behaviour.

A number of previous studies have found that children of gay and lesbian parents are as happy, or happier, than their peers brought up by straight parents.

Last year, a study of 1,384 couples, 155 of whom were gay, found that as parents, their sexuality made “no significant difference” on the levels of emotional problems experienced by their children.

The Adoption and Children Act, which came into force in December 2005, gave gay couples and unmarried straight couples the right to jointly adopt children.

Lesbians undergoing IVF treatment can now record their partner as the second parent on the birth certificate.

source:
http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2010/06/08/children-of-lesbian-couples-have-fewer-behaviour-problems/#

synopsis

i was asked to write a synopsis for my film for its first up coming screening – I cant wait for y’all to see it!
watch this space for trailer:

This half hour documentary profiles the experiences of the children of Lesbian and Gay parents in the UK aged 12 to 35, exploring themes of School, Gender, Sexuality, Prejudice and what the word Family means. Set alongside an examination of the rich history of Lesbian and Gay parents from the late 1960s to the present day this film at once normalises and elaborates on the unshared and unheard experiences of the children of Lesbian and Gay parents

from observer: New surrogacy law eases the way for gay men to become legal parents

Gay male couples will be able to use a fast-track route to become the legal parents of surrogate children from next week. On 6 April, changes to the law will permit two men to be named as parents on a child’s birth certificate for the first time in British history.

The transition will take effect following the implementation of the final piece of the 2008 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. This last section is aimed at helping same-sex and unmarried couples who seek to have surrogate children and will allow them to secure legal parenthood in a new, simplified manner. At present, only married, heterosexual couples can use this route.

“These changes bring the law up to date with the realities of modern 21st-century life and recognise that increasing numbers of same-sex and unmarried couples are having children together,” said Natalie Gamble, of the fertility law firm Gamble and Ghevaert.

Surrogacy has become increasingly common and offers couples an alternative route to parenthood if all other methods, including IVF treatments, fail. Current legislation allows heterosexual, married couples to get a parental order to give them a birth certificate for a child born to a mother with whom they have entered into a surrogacy agreement. But gay, lesbian and unmarried couples cannot do this. The surrogate mother has to be named on the birth certificate. If she is married, her husband is legally considered to be the father.

An example is provided by the story of Steven Ponder and his partner, Ivan Sigston. Both are police officers. Last year, they became one of the first gay couples to father a baby in Britain when Ponder’s married sister, Lorna Bradley, gave birth to a boy, William.

Crucially, however, Lorna Bradley’s name appeared on the birth certificate, which made her a legal guardian of the child. Ponder and Sigston could have applied to adopt the baby. If successful, they would have been given an adoption certificate to replace his original birth certificate. But adoption is complex and involves the intervention of social workers and other professional groups.

The new system is far more streamlined. Provided that a court is satisfied that two men are in a stable relationship; that no fees, other than expenses, are paid to the surrogate mother; and that it is in the child’s best interest, then it will award a parental order for a birth certificate to be drawn up with both men named as parents, and therefore legal guardians. “Lesbian couples and unmarried couples usually have other routes available to them if they want to have children, but surrogacy is particularly important to gay men, so they will get most out of this change in legislation,” said Gamble.In effect, the law has now opened the doors in order to make it easy for a gay man and his partner to have children.

This point was backed by Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, the gay rights campaign group: “We are delighted that the reality of people’s family lives is being recognised at last, that both lesbian and gay couples no longer have to go through the unpleasantness of an adoption procedure.”

Gamble warned, however, that while the new legislation would make it easier for gay couples to have children, the rules governing surrogacy in the UK remained badly out of date.

“There are particular pitfalls for single parents and those going abroad. In the latter case, a couple returning to England with a surrogate child find that the law does not recognise their right to parenthood. It can cause immense distress. There are a lot of aspects of surrogacy that now need to be addressed urgently.”

Interview with Spare Rib Co-founder taken from Observer Review

Is this a terrible time to be a feminist?

Our debaters: Rosie Boycott, journalist and co-founder of Spare Rib, and Zoe Margolis, author of blog and books detailing her sex life


Forty years ago saw Britain’s first national conference on women’s issues and the start of the modern feminist movement. Many women feel that we haven’t come very far in the intervening years and that there is still much need for a campaigning feminist movement today; that equality still doesn’t exist, that sexism is still rife. Natasha Walter’s recent book, Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism, suggested that modern feminism is in crisis, while a three-part BBC4 series Women, which starts tomorrow, charts the rise of feminism and examines its impact on contemporary women’s lives. So has life actually got worse for women since 1970? And do we now need a feminist movement more than ever?

Rosie Boycott This is a very testing time to be a feminist. Things really haven’t worked out how we imagined when we started Spare Rib in the 70s. One of the great failures has been the inability of the government and women to address childcare sufficiently when other countries such as Denmark have solved that problem. Then there’s the lookism issue. Now there’s pressure on women of every age to be perfect, even girls as young as 11. The rise of lads’ mags is also terrifying; women these days are actually sending in images of themselves topless.

Zoe Margolis My generation has grown up blessed that we had the liberation movement. I’m 37 and feel so lucky to be a strong woman, to have the opportunities previous generations fought for. My mum was told the only work available to her was secretarial. I’m able to decide what job I want and won’t be turned away just for being female. I’m able to have an equal relationship with a man. Things may not have changed swiftly enough but we’ve come a long way.

RB I recently read a book called Half the Sky, which explained that the balance of power for women around the world has deteriorated. Despite the achievements, on the whole, certainly in the developing world, it seems women’s lives have got worse in the past 40 years.

ZM But you can’t change the human psyche overnight, it’s a slow process. We could have a feminist and a socialist revolution tomorrow, and you’d still have people in society that have grown up with racist, sexist or classist conditioning.

RB One of the tenets of women’s liberation was choice so I feel pleased when I read about women today making their own decisions and feeling confident about them. If you look at university grades, you’d think women would be the dominant force in the workplace. That they aren’t is certainly partly because the childcare system doesn’t work. But the psychologist Susan Pinker believes that men and women are actually coded in a different way, biologically different. She looks at many cases of women who bust a lot of different glass ceilings who then voluntarily said: “No, I don’t want this.” We’re not yet happy talking about that because we’re not sure if it’s a huge failure or a huge success for women.

ZM I’m very suspicious of the biological determinism route – it doesn’t help the feminist cause. I think there are more similarities than differences between the sexes. Natasha Walter’s new book, Living Dolls, shows that time and time again the science is just headlines, that you can’t actually prove these differences.

RB So why are there still so few women running FTSE 100 companies? That’s not a childcare problem because at that level you’ve shedloads of money for nannies.

ZM Maybe those women don’t want to have to deal with sexism on a daily basis. I used to work in the film industry and, as the only woman in a team or on a set, it was like 1950s sexism every day: everything from being felt up to verbal abuse to hearing “you’ll never make it”. The only way to deal with that was to say “Fuck everyone, I’m going to be tougher than all of you.” That’s exhausting, you have to be very confident. But it can be done. If women like me aren’t proving we can do it then there are fewer role models.

RB I can’t believe we are still having to fight that battle, though. On Spare Rib I remember writing that liberation is for both sexes – it was just as much of a gender trap to be a bloke at 18 looking at the prospect of working until 65, responsible for a wife and kids. We imagined that men would leap towards a less restricted role, but that hasn’t really happened. Most men still don’t want their power usurped.

ZM I’m more hopeful that there are men that want change, too. That’s partly why I started my blog. I loathe lads’ mags and women’s mags; they sexualise and objectify women and suggest you’re either a prude or you’ve got your tits out. I wanted my blog to brainwash guys in a different way and I’ve been surprised by the amount of men who come seeking titillation and then write saying, “You’ve made me question how I view women and sexual interaction.”

RB But women themselves have increased that objectivity because of this culture of lookism – whether it’s plastic surgery or masses of makeup. That feels like a real problem for feminists today.

ZM Yes, women are still growing up with the idea that the aim is to be desired, rather than to desire. I pitched an article to a woman’s magazine recently about masturbation and they refused it saying, “Couldn’t you just write a piece about blow job tips?” I was horrified at the idea that sex is still about men’s pleasure.

RB I’m really not convinced by the argument “wo men, have as much sex as you can because that’s proof of liberation”. Tons of sex doesn’t necessarily make you feel great.

ZM I’ve written a lot about having a very active sex life and I do think feminists have better sex because they are more in touch with their bodies.

RB The other thing that’s been lost is the idea of sisterhood – it now seems like an old-fashioned word. The original women’s groups were very supportive. There’s a feeling now that you ought to know how to be a woman, despite there still being tons of confusion about how to do it. I think that’s partly why you have these binge-drinking groups of girls; it’s a slight inversion of the sisterhood, it’s about trying to feel powerful.

ZM I grew up feeling very isolated in terms of my politics and I think that’s one of the reasons I set up my blog. The internet offers a space for women to express themselves. We might not meet up in person, but we now have a huge support network. A lot of women wrote to me saying they wanted to talk about sex and challenge society’s sexism and now there’s a forum and that’s a great feeling.

RB In the 70s, there was this real sense of excitement about the movement, about meeting up. I remember marching in Westminster and it was such fun. You also had a sense of trying to help all pockets of society. We worked for battered women, for instance, and it chills me that still, today, two women a week are killed through domestic violence in the UK – exactly the same figure as back then. That’s a political and social failure; that generally women have gone off into little groups of friends to look after their own ends. It’s too individualist.

ZM But there are lots of people doing great work. There may be a lot of women today who say they’re not feminists but if you ask them, “Do you want equal pay? Freedom from violence? Abortion rights?”, they say yes, and that’s what being a feminist is. We may be fragmented but we just need to find a way to unify us all.

Zoe Margolis’s new book, Girl With a One Track Mind: Exposed, is out now

coming out to kids

advice from the guardian: discuss

How do I tell my children that I am gay?
I am a middle-aged woman who ­divorced several years ago and have two children, aged 14 and 11. One reason for the split with their father, other than issues with his behaviour, was that I had to come to terms with the fact that I am gay. But discussing this with the kids has become a sticking point. In spite of good intentions, of inclusion policies and acceptance of minorities, the word “gay” is still hurled as an insult at school. To move forward with my kids, and perhaps find a partner and at last do something true to myself, I need to tackle this head on. Most gay women either have young children born into a gay family, or none at all. I have drawn a blank looking for advice. Susan, via email

Unless you have brought them up to be incredibly intolerant and closed-minded, your children may surprise you. It’s natural that you feel ­nervous, but I also think you are projecting a lot on to them. Maybe you were brought up in a household where being ­homosexual wouldn’t have been tolerated? But they are a new generation and while I’m not pretending it’s easy to come out, whatever your age, it’s important to remember that it’s your children, not your parents, you’ll be talking to.

I had a good chat with someone from the Lesbian and Gay Foundation (lgf.org.uk, 0845 3303030 – do look on the website, where there are real-life stories about coming out that you may want to read. A quarter of the calls the LGF receives are about coming out). Please think about ringing the helpline – there are skilled people who can talk you through your worries and can even help with role play – taking the role of your ­children – so you can practise what you might want to say. I think this would be a ­really good idea for you, as you’ve probably never vocalised what you want to say and the language you use is important. You don’t want to say “I think I’m gay”, for instance; this will just confuse your children. The helpline can also help you with that ­all-important opener.

It’s with advice from the LGF that I make these suggestions for when the time comes to tell your children.

First: tell them in a quiet, confidential place, such as your home. Make sure you have plenty of time to talk – don’t do it when you know you or they have to be somewhere else, or if there’s a time constraint. Be prepared to listen to their worries. Decide exactly what you want to tell them, and how much. They may ask, for example, if you’ve had sex with another woman yet; ­decide in advance how much you want to divulge, so that you are prepared. Also, be prepared to accept that they may want to discuss it with other ­people. Make it clear to them that they can ask questions at any time in the future. Be aware that this will be an ongoing ­conversation. They may also ask if this has anything to do with their father, so it’s important to stress that your sexuality is yours, ie it wasn’t caused by him or by being married. Tell them that if they want to talk to anyone neutral they can ring ChildLine (childline.org.uk, 0800 1111).

The other thing to remember is that while you may have had some years to get used to the fact that you are gay, it could come as a great shock to them (or it may not, and they may have guessed – either way your confirmation may be shocking for them). So what they say immediately may not be how they feel when the news has been digested.

Remember, too, that children can take things literally. Remind them that nothing else has changed, that no ­matter what happens they will ­continue to live with you and that you love them.

They will take the lead from you – if you start crying when you tell them, and are too emotional, they will think that is the response required. Be calm and ­confident and don’t be apologetic. This isn’t something to be sorry for. You’re telling them you’re gay, not a mass murderer. That said, you can say “I’m sorry if this is a shock” or “I’m sorry you feel that way” if they react badly – but don’t be tempted to just say “I’m sorry, I’m sorry” in a ­random fashion. Be strong – they’ll need to know that you can handle it.

Cynthia Nixon: We are Family

Sex and the City’s Cynthia Nixon: Florida’s gay adoption ban hurts state’s foster children

Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon will join U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, state Sen. Nan Rich and state Rep. Mary Brandenburg to help the ACLU of Florida launch its new campaign to end Florida’s gay adoption ban.

Florida is the only state with an outright ban against gays and lesbians adopting children. That law passed in 1978, the year after singer and Florida orange juice spokeswoman Anita Bryant led her campaign to repeal Dade County’s gay-rights ordinance.

read the full story here