I’m full of questions, mostly unanswered questions. Always have been, always will be. My brother came out. Boom! Questions. I found out I was pregnant. Bam! Questions. C.J. started embracing his feminine side. Pow! Questions. Fergie showed up on American Idol with a different face. You guessed it. Questions.
So, I ask a lot of questions and I’m sure it makes those close to me crazy, though they are so sweet that they’d never say anything to my face. That’s part of why I started this blog, so that I could bother total strangers with my questions and be more far-reaching with my inquisitive annoyance.
Then, I was introduced to SurveyMonkey and decided to take my question-asking torment to a whole new level. I compiled a list of questions that I wanted answered. I created a survey and sent it out to people in a certain demographic: breeders with children under the age of 18 or in the family-planning stage of life. I also asked them to pass the survey on to people they know who fit the bill.
The results were interesting. Warning: I’m no mathematician, scientist or pollster. I’m much too right-brained for those professions. Any-who, I created the survey and use the results that have been automatically generated by SurveyMonkey. This is not a formal survey and any formal complaints can be sent elsewhere.
If homosexuality could be detected during pregnancy through routine blood work or ultrasound, 71 percent of people would want to know. What would they do with the knowledge of their child’s sexuality?
“I would do as much research as possible in order to become the most understanding parent there ever was.” — 3/31/11 1:19PM
“I wouldn’t keep it a secret but I certainly would be selective in who I told.” — 4/1/11 12:28AM
“I would make sure I had proper role models and an open dialogue with my child for when this materialized in puberty.” — 4/1/11 7:29AM
“I would only use it only as a tool for parenting my child. I would not share the info with anyone except my husband.” — 4/2/11 4:02AM
If people had to choose to raise a lesbian or gay male, they were divided almost equally. One person did submit a request for a “Lipstick Lesbian,” so if you know where s/he can officially place that order, please let me know. If they had to choose to raise a straight tomboy girl or straight effeminate boy, they chose to raise the girl hands down, with not one person choosing to raise a straight effeminate boy. Most commenters cited that that seemed like the easier option.
86 percent of people would adopt a child knowing that s/he were homosexual and 43 percent would adopt a child knowing that s/he was transgender. Someone I admire for their honesty wrote:
“My wife and I were about to adopt and I would probably prefer not to adopt a homosexual or transgender child.” — 3/31/11 1:19PM
43 percent of people would let their son wear a dress if he wanted to, but only at home. No one wanted their son to wear a dress in public. 93 percent would let their son play with dolls and about half would allow him to do so outside of the house.
“I have to admit if my older son, who’s 7, wanted to play with Barbie dolls, I would first try to encourage him to play with trucks. If he preferred Barbies, then I would absolutely let him.” — 3/31/11 1:19PM
No one thought that homosexuality was a choice, seven percent would feel sorry for a friend who had a homosexual child and seven percent would rather have a child missing his/her left arm than have a homosexual child. I hope their straight child is right-handed.
Such well-written, interesting, and powerful statistics. I’m inspired by how you didn’t put down the person who wouldn’t prefer to adopt a homosexual or transsexual child, only thanking them for their honesty. Keep up the good work!
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I wasn’t sure if you’d seen this but I thought it was right up your alley.
I love this post–funny, smart, touching, and heartbreaking too. I posted on facebook and twitter!
You are, who you are. Period. Genes cannot be changed. Left arms are overrated.
That was a very interesting read. To see the results of your survey were surprising. If you asked my husband the question about a gay son or lesbian daughter…. he would choose the lesbian daughter and tell you because then she would never have sex with a man which would make him very happy. Screwy, I know. I also enjoyed reading Cameron’s comment. I agree, you are doing a fabulous job and you may just be saving your son’s life because you do love him no matter who “him” is. I have to thank you now, every time I see a person missing a left arm I will think to myself, “could’ve been gay instead……” I would choose gay by the way…. just sayin’. I can’t wait to see your next post.
Oh, my…am I the first to comment? Wow. Well, that was a really cool inspired use of Survey Monkey (which I encountered as an undergrad with a ginormous research paper assignment.) I found the results you have there remarkably encouraging, actually. That survey would have gotten a very different series of answers fifty years ago, I bet, not to mention, been much harder to compile and no nifty computer generations to help. Cost of stamps to send it out. Possible mental incarceration for having asked the questions in the first place. Homosexuality was still listed in the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders as a mental illness, back then – people were institutionalized over the mere suspicion of it.
I am actually a little boggled over the 7 % who would have preferred a child missing an arm…I guess I shouldn’t be, but I am. *sigh*
And I am fascinated over the hands down, “we want a little tomboy girl, not an effeminate son, thanks” reaction…in a morbid sort of way. This confirms my thoughts on the subject matter….
Y’see, I have this theory myself, that 2 things reside at the bottom of homophobia…like it or not we still live in a world that privileges men (another thing that has improved to some degree over the past 50 years, but still…) Men still make better pay and the “glass ceiling does still exist in terms of advancement for women. Medical paradigms still skew to men as patients. People still tout the Biblical model of men as head of household and women as subservient – I live in the Bible belt, trust, that little polemic is very alive and well and being abused left and right – and right wing politicians are just…never mind, that would be a digression of epic proportions. Trust me on this one – the masculine straight male is still the paradigm, and women are still considered less then, in many subtle and not so subtle ways. I think that gay men come under fire and persecution because they are associated with being feminine, with not being masculine or “real men”. I mean, if you are not a “real man” you have one other option – to be associated with being like a woman. And gay or tomboy women have a little more privilege because they are assumed to be more masculine (hello, yes, the “lipstick lesbians” are sort of left out of this) and are associated with being like men. And I think that the “whoops, we’ll take the tomboy, thanks,” reaction is an unconscious knee jerk response to this. Even just as a reaction to the dynamic, if not as part of the dynamic. If your little rainbow was a tomboy girl, you would not be getting half or even a quarter of the flak you’ve been getting, trust me. You would still get some, yes, but not like you and your family are running into now. The pressure to conform to a feminine standard would not kick in until puberty, which is the time frame that tomboys (whether they are gay or not) come under fire to start being ladies, and get down out of that tree and put on some make up, and like boys. So thats the first reason.
The second reason may run a bit deeper. I don’t know if you are familiar with the word Schema or not…its a psych term that refers to how the human brain is wired to organize and learn and store information. We are wired as human beings to organize information into groupings, patterns, templates, etc. Its how and why humans learn complex information very fast, particularly as kids. However, the down side of that is that anything that does not fit a learned schema provokes anxiety. Take your average very young toddler who is just getting their brain around language and naming things. One of the usual early things they learn for instance, is “doggie”. And the pattern and schema goes something like this – “ok, four legs, check, tail, check, hair or fur, check – its a doggie”.
Man, this is great stuff! See something about six inches high, but with those things and say “Doggie!” and man, you get praised! Then you see something standing way over your head and slobbering, and say “Doggie!” and get even more praise…this rocks. And you have just correctly identified a both a Chihuahua and a Saint Bernard as falling into the correct schema of doggie, which is shows how well this works, because those two species don’t look like they came from the same planet. So, then you get taken off to Uncle John’s farm and mom hoists you up to the fence and wow! Never know they came so big, but you ante up and go “Doggie!” and wait for the praise to flow.
No, you are told. No praise? I got it wrong?
No, you are informed, that is a “cow”. Well, dang. It has four legs and a tail and… OK. Size matters evidently. You form a new schema, a pattern in your head, instantaneously and it gets labeled under “Cow”. You point and affirm this. “Cow!” Praise, hugs. Warm happy inner glow. And then Uncle John comes around the barn RIDING one of the darn things! Wow! Proudly, you point and say “Cow!”
“Not a cow,” you are informed. “Horsie”, at which point, the world is just too dang big, your schemas over runneth, you have a small melt down and you need to be consoled with milk and cookies and a nap!
So what is one of the, if not THE biggest, all time schema’s EVER???
“Is it a girl or a boy?”
Everybody HAS to be slotted into these two categories. Forcibly if necessary. Because if it doesn’t fit the schema, the box, the label, the pattern, anxiety ensues big time. (a nice possible label for this fear and anxiety is “homophobia”) Social standing and cues get messy. How do I as a man or a woman behave towards this person? Melt down ensues. And unfortunately, cookies and milk don’t cure this one. (Oh, what if it did – would it not be a wonderful world?)
If the schema we have developed as a society privileges men over women, proscribes everything about gender expression into rigid definitions, and extreme anxiety ensues when deviations occur, is it any wonder that most people back off from wanting to raise a gay son? Or even an effeminate straight son? Why two lesbians mostly get away with living quietly together (as long as they don’t OMG have a Pride flag, or *gasp* hold hands walking around the neighborhood…) but two guys living together catch fifteen kinds of holy heck, suspicion, and hazing, even if they are not gay?
Why a beautiful, intelligent little boy who is everything parents could ever hope for, is questioned, teased, bullied and criticized at every turn for something as simple as wanting to play with a Barbie doll?
I have a friend who as a little girl announced she was going to grow up to be a boy. No way, was the parents response. And as a teenager, she put her foot down and said, I am a boy. Much upheaval. He got tossed out of the house to live with an aunt. And after much angst, and yelling and rejection, he tried to commit suicide. When his mom got to the hospital, horrified, and asked him “WHY did you do this?”, his answer stopped her heart.
“Because I figured you’d rather bury a dead daughter, then have a living son.”
Reconciliation, and love won the day, and they are now the proud parent of their son, who they support totally. But what a horrible way to get there. Our “schemas” our rigid little boxes of what must be, have much to answer for.
This is why you and your family are my heroes. You aren’t just doing a fabulous job of raising your son as who and what he is, WHATEVER that may be, you may be SAVING HIS LIFE!
Thanks. You give me hope. Great hope. Belief in change and a future, where we may all be simply human and beloved for what we are.