Alternative Families

Essay by spirit05College, UndergraduateA+, September 2007

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Alternative Families

This topic is important to many families, alternative and traditional, because it affects their relationships with each other and their children. Politicians are continually pushing to restrict access to services such as insurance, education, and equal protection from harassment for alternative families.

The structure of an alternative family varies greatly; from grandparents raising grandchildren to gay and lesbian parents, even people responsible for raising their siblings. Politicians and the conservative 'Christian' community focus on gay and lesbian families because they are the most controversial and are therefore more susceptible to attack from extremists. What most people object to about gay marriage and parenting is the notion of sanctifying homosexual relationships in the same way as heterosexual relationships. Courts have voiced three major fears about the influence of lesbian and gay parents on children. The first of these fears is that development of sexual identity will be impaired among children of lesbian and gay parents.

For instance, one such concern is that children brought up by lesbian mothers or gay fathers will show disturbances in gender identity and/or in gender role behavior. It has also been suggested that children brought up by lesbian mothers or by gay fathers will themselves become lesbian or gay. A second category of concerns involves aspects of children's personal development other than sexual identity. For example, courts have expressed fears that children in the custody of gay or lesbian parents will be more vulnerable to mental breakdown, will exhibit more adjustment difficulties and behavior problems, and will be less psychologically healthy than other children. A third category of specific fears expressed by the courts is that children of lesbian and gay parents may experience difficulty in social relationships. For example, judges have repeatedly expressed concern that children living with lesbian mothers or gay fathers...