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Archive for September, 2004

The Australian – "Gays hit by society not mum and dad" by Michael Bachelard

September 9, 2004 Leave a comment

THE main damage to children of lesbian and gayparents or people born of surrogates came not from their parents , but from society’s prejudices.

The Victorian Government’s Law Reform Commission report has found that “overt prejudice” from “politicians, religious leaders, friends and even relatives” was the factor most likely to harm children of unconventional relationships.

University of Melbourne academic Ruth McNair found that families created by artificial insemination, in-vitro fertilisation and surrogacy were, if anything, internally happier than other families.

“Mothers express more warmth toward their child, mothers and fathers are more emotionally involved and interact more with their child … (and) children report less parental criticism than natural or adoptive children.”

In “stark contrast”, the negatives come from outside: people who use donated eggs or sperm, surrogate mothers, who are gay, lesbian or infertile are “all stigmatised”, Dr McNair found.

People in these categories had less support from extended family or society, were less likely to obtain information about self-insemination and were at risk of infection, and their children were subject to bullying and isolation at school.

She also found that children of lesbian or gay parents were no more likely to be homosexual themselves, but they were more likely to experiment with same-sex partners.

The state Law Reform Commission is examining the law surrounding these issues, including whether it should more easily allow women who are not biologically infertile but who are not in heterosexual relationships, access to reproductive technology.

It is also examining whether the children of donor sperm or eggs should be able to identify their biological parents. Dr McNair said secrecy surrounding the identity of donors was “one of the most significant” problems such children faced. Children should be told the truth well before puberty, and given the option of developing a relationship with the donor.

She said gay and lesbian parents tended to be much more open than heterosexual parents.

Categories: Ruth McNair

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy – "Lesbian parenting: insiders’ voices" by Ruth McNair, Amaryll Perlesz

September 1, 2004 Leave a comment

Lesbian parenting has entered the public arena over recent years via debates regarding access to fertility services and adoption, legal recognition of same-sex parents and children’s rights (McNair, 2002). Research in the area has been published for over 20 years, with an increasing shift towards delineating diversity rather than proving the legitimacy of these families. The ANZJFT – the major mouthpiece for Australian family therapists – has made curiously little contribution to the literature on lesbian parenting. The lack of discussion leaves trainees and family therapists largely ignorant about the lived experience of lesbian family life. This paper goes some way to filling this gap. We present data gathered from 151 Australian lesbian parents who answered questions about their own and their families’ perceived strengths. Despite the constraints and challenges of living within a heteronormative and homophobic society and dealing with discrimination and legal, political and social non-legitimation, this group of lesbian parents expressed great pride in raising welladjusted and happy children. They also described their families as thoughtfully planned, proud, accepting and celebratory of diversity and difference, flexible in gender roles, and as having interesting, supportive, extended kinship networks that included a wide range of positive role models for their children. (Journal abstract)

[Source: Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy v.25 no.3 Sept 2004: 129-140]

Categories: Jenni Millbank, Lesbian