Gay Dad Life

School Dazed: A Gay Dad Clams Up At a Parent-Teacher Conference

I have certain Oh my gosh, I’m a total dad moments. And going to parent-teacher conferences is one of them. My oldest, Keith, is only in pre-K, but I bring it. I dress up, I ask questions, I get into it. The teacher and I sit across from each other in the very same little chairs where Keith and his fellow 4-year-olds sit to paint and draw. It’s like an absurd job interview.


I like Keith’s teacher, and we were having a great time discussing one of my favorite topics: my son. She was talking up the tactic of using picture books without words to get kids into storytelling. She gives each a book and asks the child about the cover, “What do you see? Who do you think that is?” Then they go through each page, discussing what’s happening.

She explained that Keith didn’t seem to enjoy it that much.

She then pulled out the book she gave Keith. “Mama and Baby!” The exclamation point is the author’s, though I did stifle my own wow. The book shows mothers and babies of different species, a new pair on each page. It begins with a kangaroo with a baby in her pouch, and culminates in a mousy mom and her feral child. She looked like a mom who feeds her kid pouches and is always on her phone. Okay, they look like a fine mother-and-child match, but that’s what I saw by the end.

I pictured my sweet, perfect boy, adopted by two guys at birth, paging through this book of moms as his teacher kept asking, “Who is this?”

So I said: “Um … ”

That was my initial, brilliant moment of advocacy for my child. The situation was just so comic and heartbreaking at the same time that I was struck dumb.

“I’m just not sure this is the best book for Keith to use,” I said finally, trying to be diplomatic. “It’s not really what he knows.”

“Well, he said some were daddies,” she said, before adding, “Which is fine.” Fine that he sees men as potential nurturers, or that he didn’t get that these are lady mamas of the wild?

Now, I will say this. Keith’s teacher is a lovely, kind person. But she just wasn’t getting it. And I wasn’t mad at her, I was mad at me.

Here’s the thing. I consider myself a doctoral student in adoption. I have spoken on panels, for Chrissake. I am nuts about the birth families of my two sons, keeping them informed of every wonderful step of my kids’ lives. My husband became an adoption attorney. He literally gives at the office. I am a freaking pro.

And I got lazy. One time I was on a panel — see? Told you I speak on panels — where a guy in the audience with an annoying voice said that every year he goes to his kids’ school and does a whole talk on adoption for the teachers and class. “His poor kids,” I thought, haughtily. First they have a dad with an annoying voice and he insists on making a show of himself talking about his kids. Why single them out as different right away?

Well, I was wrong. Our kids, the kids of gay dads, are different right away. And I was dumb to assume that because mine goes to public school in a cool neighborhood, he would not face the little indignities of heteronormative society.

And let’s face it, I thought I could coast.

“I’m just wondering,” I asked. “Are there any books about same-sex families in the classroom?” I realize the absurdity of asking this in March. I had no idea.

“No,” she said. “But we talk about how there are all kinds of families. We have students where parents are of different races. And those parents brought in books that showed families like theirs.”

“Okay, I’ll bring some in,” I said, feeling like the worst parent in the world.

When I got home, I emailed the office and asked if they had any books about LGBT families in the school library. They did not know, was the swift response. But they would be sure to include LGBT books in the next purchase for the school.

As much as I’m recommitting myself to being a teachable-moment machine, I know I can’t do this forever. The last thing a middle school kid wants is a show and tell on what makes them different. But for now, I need to do a better job. I brought in some books for his classroom.

After the conference, I stopped in to visit Keith’s music teacher, whom I’d never met. She was about my age, with purple hair. She told me how much Keith loves music.

“I’m thinking about teaching them all ‘Rainbow Connection’ to sing at the end-of-school showcase,” she said.

“Oh jeez,” I said. “I’ll be the gay dad crying his eyes out in the front row.”

She looked at me funny.

“I’m gay, I said. “I meant it like ‘gay gay,’ not like ... ” I managed to get myself together. "Keith has two dads.”

She nodded, probably mystified by such an awkward display of pride. I need to get the hang of this by September.

Show Comments ()
Gay Dad Photo Essays

How Single Dads Are Celebrating Valentine's Day This Year

Valentine's Day is not just for lovers! We caught up with 8 single gay dads to see how they plan to celebrate Valentine's Day with this year.

Valentine's Day is not just for lovers; it's also a day to celebrate our loved ones. And that's exactly what these single dads are doing.

Within our community, GWK has a large group of admirable, active, and awesome (!) single dads and we want to honor them! On Valentine's Day, they and their kids celebrate their family unit in the sweetest possible ways. We asked the dads to share these moments with us, and, where possible, one of the most heartwarming things they've experienced with their kids on Valentine's Day to date.

Hear their stories below.

Keep reading...
Gay Dad Photo Essays

11 Gay Couples Share Secrets to Their Long-Term Relationships This Valentine's Day

This Valentine's Day, we spoke with 11 gay dad couples who've been together for almost a decade or longer to learn what's made their relationships last

You're the peanut butter to my jelly, the gin to my tonic, the strawberries to my cream, the Mr. to my Mr.!

Happy Valentine's Day folks! We're excited to celebrate this day of lurrrrvvve by featuring a few dads in our community who've been together for almost a decade or more! And they're ready to share their secrets to a successful relationship and parenting partnership.

Keep reading...
Gay Dad Life

"Worth Every Blood, Sweat, and Tear": Congrats to Gay Dads on Recent Births and Adoptions!

Wishing all of these gay dads whose families expanded a lifetime of happiness! Congrats to everyone in our community on their recent births and adoptions!

Gay men go through a lot of ups and downs on the path to parenthood. It can be one of the most emotionally draining times in our lives. But as each of these families who are celebrating births and adoptions this month agree: it's worth every hardship.

Congrats to the dads whose families grew this month!

Keep reading...
News

What's it Like to Be a Child of the 'Gayby Boom'?

Tosca Langbert, who grew up with two dads, writes a piece for the Harvard Business Review about what it's like being among the first children of the "Gayby Boom" to come of age.

We've previously written about the pressure on LGBTQ parents to appear perfect, given that so many in the United States still feel out families shouldn't exist in the first place. And we know this pressure trickles down to our kids. But In an article for the Harvard Business Review titled 'The Gayby Boom Is Here to Stay," author Tosca Langbert eloquently writes, from her perspective, about the experience of beingone of the first children to come of age during an era when LGBTQ parenthood is far more commonplace. She and her two siblings, she notes, "were raised in a family that was an impossibility only decades ago."

In the article, Langbert said she knew from a young age that her family was different from those of most of her peers, who had one a father and a mother. But otherwise, she writes, she didn't feel like her family differed much. "Like any other parents, Dad sat in the carpool lane after school and taught us how to ride our bikes," she writes, "while Papa took us to the movies on the weekends and separated the whites from the colors."

Despite this mundanity, her family remained something to marvel at for much of her youth. When the family moved into a new neighborhood in 2006, it made the local newspaper, with a headline titled, "Gay Father Tests Tolerance in the Park Cities."

She and her siblings have spent much of their lives, she explained further, having to respond to the question: what's it like having two gay dads? For Langbert, there is only one correct response, which is: Amazing! "Any other response, even if simply accounting for a family's nuanced experience, might as well be an outright admission of failure on behalf of the entire LGBTQ community," she wrote.

Children of the 'Gayby Generation,' are also put in the position of having to come out on behalf of their parents, and "often with mixed results," she wrote. She gave the following anecdote as an example:

"My father was asked to step down from his leadership position in my brother's Boy Scout troop on account of his sexuality. Even though my siblings and I were only fourth graders at the time, we understood that our family was under strict scrutiny, and that even the slightest misstep could beget severe consequences for how competent our fathers were perceived as being. In the face of this pressure, the first generation of 'gaybies' recognized the importance of presenting their families as perfect; doing otherwise would only present ammunition to those already dubious about the rights of LGBTQ parents to raise children."

The entire article, which includes the perspectives of multiple now-grown kids that are part of the "Gayby generation," is well worth a read, which you can access here.


Politics

Utah Bill Would Allow Gay Men to Enter Surrogacy Contracts

Rep. Patrice Arent of Utah is sponsoring a bill that will remove a provision that currently prohibits gay men from entering into commercial surrogacy contracts in the state.

Though Utah is not one of the three states that currently prohibit commercial surrogacy contracts, the state's current policy does specifically exclude gay men from doing so. That may soon changed, however, thanks to a bill in the state's legislature that was unanimously voted out of a House Committee that would remove that restriction.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, a Democrat, was created in response to a ruling by the Utah Supreme Court this past August that found the ban on gay men unconstitutional.

Gay men have been excluded from legally entering surrogacy contracts due to a provision in the current law that requires medical evidence "that the intended mother is unable to bear a child or is unable to do so without unreasonable risk to her physical or mental health or to the unborn child," Rep. Arent told the Salt Lake Tribune — a requirement that clearly excludes gay male couples.

The state's original surrogacy law dates back to 2005, before same-sex marriage was legalized in the state, which accounts for the gendered language. Though the state's Supreme Court already ruled the provision unconstitutional, Rep Arent further told the Tribute that, "People do not look to Supreme Court opinions to figure out the law, they look to the code and the code should be constitutional."

Politics

Colorado Republicans Try and Fail to Outlaw LGBTQ Marriage and Adoption Rights

A bill introduced by four Republican state legislators in Colorado that would outlaw same-sex marriage and adoption rights was voted down.

The "Colorado Natural Marriage and Adoption Act," which would have outlawed gay marriage and adoption in the state of Colorado, was voted down in the state legislature this week. The bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Stephen Humphrey and three of his conservative colleagues: Dave Williams, Shane Sandridge and Mark Baisley.

If enacted, the bill would have enforced "state law that marriage is between one man and one woman" and restrict "adoption of children by spouses in a marriage ... that consist of one man and one woman."

The bill, which had little chance of success, particularly in Colorado which has trended more progressive over the past several election cycles, was mostly symbolic, according to Sanridrge. "We all know this bill isn't gonna pass in this current left-wing environment," he told Colorado Public Radio. "It's to remind everyone, this is the ultimate way to conceive a child."

In a sign of how far we've come on the issue of LGBTQ marriage and parenting rights, most Republican legislators in the state did not endorse the bill.

Though the bill had little chance of passage, LGBTQ advocacy groups in the state are taking the threats seriously nonetheless. Daniel Ramos, director of the LGBTQ group One Colorado, told LGBTQ Nation that the bills were an attempt to return Colorado to its "hate status" of the 1990s, adding the aggressiveness of the measures were "a bit surprising."

Surrogacy for Gay Men

Dads Talk About Surrogacy Process in New Video for Northwest Surrogacy Center

The Northwest Surrogacy Center interviewed some of their gay dad clients for a video to celebrate their 25th anniversary of creating families through surrogacy!

Image: NWSC Clients

Last year, Northwest Surrogacy Center celebrated 25 years of helping parents realize their dreams. And they celebrated in style by inviting the families they've worked with over the past two and a half decades to join them!

At the party, they took the opportunity to film queer dads and dads-to-be, asking them a couple of questions: how did it feel holding your baby for the first time, and tell us about your relationship with your surrogate.

Watch the video below and get ready for the water works!

Keep reading...

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse