LGBTQ people have endured a long struggle when it comes to receiving equal treatment, not only as individuals but as parents. Progress has been slow, and in many ways the struggles continue. From continued attacks on LGBTQ rights to narrow minded individuals to well-meaning but ultimately clueless progressives, navigating the world as an LGBTQ parent isn't easy. In fact, there are more than a few ways you're probably subtly shaming LGBTQ parents... and without knowing it.
I'm a queer mom, but I'm also married to a cisgender hetero man, so I know I don’t hear or experience the brunt of the shaming so many LGBTQ parents face. For the most part, people assume I'm “just another ‘normal’ straight woman” which can be a bit frustrating, to be sure, but also affords me a certain amount of privilege. For the most part, if I wanted to adopt or become a foster parent, I wouldn't face the barriers that, say, LGBTQ parents in Georgia, Michigan, Oklahoma, or Kansas face.
But from time to time I can tell when I'm being subtly shamed, and can identity it when it's directed at my LGBTQ friends with kids, other LGBTQ parents who might be in relationships with same-sex partners, and parents whose gender identity is not what was assigned at birth. So if you truly want to support LGBTQ moms, consider taking a look inward and consider all the ways you might be throwing some subtle shame their way:
When You Automatically Assume All Parents Are Heterosexual
While I certainly wouldn’t say this is the most damaging of the shaming, it’s certainly annoying. Society, as a whole, assumes heterosexuality is the default, so people tend to ask parents who present as female about their "husband," or vice versa, rather than something more neutral like, “Do you have a partner (or spouse or significant other)?” Most people also say "mom or dad" instead of parents, too.
When You Assume That Their Children Will “Become” LGBTQ By Default
A big (and ridiculous) argument against LGBTQ folks adopting has been that their children will “become gay” as a result. Guys, that's not how sexuality works.
Don't worry about whether or not little Sylvia is going to grow up to be a lesbian just because she has two moms. (Of course, that would be absolutely fine if that's how Sylvia eventually identifies, but making the assumption that someone will be one way or another is absurd).
When You Assume They're Trying To “Turn” Their Kids LGBTQ
Ah yes, another ridiculous assumption that makes zero sense. The idea that queer parents can “turn” their kids queer is absurd. We're not trying to “recruit” more people, folks. In fact, we're not trying to "make" our kids be anything. We just want them, like us, to be free to be their authentic selves safely and without judgment.
When You Make Off-Hand Remarks About What LGBTQ Parents “Should” Like Or "Be Like"
“Oh, she has two dads? I wonder which one is the femme.”
“His mom is a lesbian? I wonder if she’s good at soccer. We need a new coach.”
Like, for real? These remarks are not cute, funny, clever, or productive. LGBTQ parents don’t have to fit into some mold you have arbitrarily made up in your mind.
When You Don't Allow Your Kids To Play With Their Kids
I cringe at the thought that, one day, a parent might not let my son play with their child due to some bigoted sentiments towards me. But just like many of us, were probably prevented from playing with some kid because of our parents pearl-clutching. As hard as it is to envision, there are people who think queerness is a “bad influence" that can somehow harm their kids.
When You Exclude LGBTQ Families From Activities
Not inviting the child with the LGBTQ parents to your little one’s birthday party — because you don’t know how to act around queer parents, or how others will act, or because maybe there’s going to be someone there who’s not entirely accepting that other people live a different way — is horrible. Don’t single out the kid who doesn’t happen to have a household that looks just like yours.
When You Assume LGBTQ Parents Don't Have Any Religious Beliefs
Guess what? Not all LGBTQ folks are atheists, or even agnostic! In fact, the majority of my LGBTQ friends adhere to some sort of belief system, and attend church or other services on a regular basis.
So maybe don’t assume they believe (or don’t believe) a particular religion based solely on their identities and preferences. Plenty of churches have become progressive and much more inclusive.
When You Assume LGBTQ Parents Are “Attention Seekers”
You would think this kind of childish mentality would have ended back in high school, right? But no. I’ve legit heard grown-ass people say that they think queer parents are just attention seekers. Because who wouldn't want people criticizing, insulting, and trying to take away your rights “for attention," right? GTFO.
When You Exclude LGBTQ Parents From Participating In Heavily Gendered Activities
Mother’s Day. Father’s Day. Those father-daughter dances and those mother-daughter spa days. I mean, the list goes on.
This can get complicated, because different couples and individuals have different opinions on whether they even want to participate in these events. Which is why you should invite everyone and ask if someone is interested in attending. When in doubt, just ask (but, you know, don’t be rude about it).