Building a Picture of Happy: The LGBT Community, Family Planning, and Dr. Nanette Gartrell

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Jordan F.
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Family = Family

I often think about my future. As a Senior, it’s the topic on everyone’s mind: what will my life be like beyond college? I’ve considered multiple career paths and visualized myself in countless different cities around the world, trying to figure out where I might have the most stimulating and exciting experiences. I want to travel and explore for a while, and hopefully my life will lead to exciting opportunities, but ultimately I see myself settling down somewhere and starting a family.
 
But as a gay man, building a family will not be nearly as straightforward as it will be for most of the people around me. In most parts of the United States and the world, same sex couples don’t even have the right to marry, let alone the right to legally adopt children. Though progress has been made in many respects, figuring out where, when, and how to build a family, at least in the current political climate, would require an incredible amount of thought and jumping through legal hoops.
 
The CSGD had the great opportunity this week to welcome Dr. Nanette Gartrell, one of the leading researchers on same-sex families, to speak about her research. She has made it her goal to combat the stereotypes that influence same-sex family rights to this day, conducted the longest longitudinal study of families with lesbian mothers in history. Over the course of 27 years, she has meticulously documented the mothers’ experiences with parenting and the children’s development. Her results have been overwhelmingly positive and her work has done a lot to change attitudes towards same-sex families. It is unsurprising that her results show that children in same-sex families end up just as well adjusted as their peers from traditional families; after all, same-sex couples can be just as loving, caring, and nurturing, and great kids really come from great parenting. Dr. Gartrell is likely to continue to dispel the stereotypes that support the stigma against non-traditional family structures as she progresses with her work.
 
It’s only a matter of time before perspectives change for the better. At the moment, when it comes to family rights, the burden of proof is on the LGBTQ community. But the evidence coming in is slowly and convincingly building a picture of happy, loving, functional LGBTQ families that are just as effective as any other. It’s only a matter of time until we reach this next level of equality, where LGBTQ families are accorded the rights and respect that they deserve.
 
I would love to have kids of my own some day. I have always enjoyed working with children and see no better way to leave a meaningful mark on the world than in creating a loving space in which a child can develop into a positive member of society. I have no doubt that I would make a great dad. I’m just waiting for the rest of society to see that.
 

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