Category: Sex

Equal parenting rights for same-sex couples

Same-sex marriage may have been given the green (or rainbow) light in many countries around the world, but it appears there are still some entrenched attitudes in society when it comes to same-sex parenting. 

Misconceptions about the impact on children raised by same-sex parents are harmful both in a social and legal sense, says University of South Australia psychologist Dr Stephanie Webb

Same-sex couples are still struggling to gain equal rights to biological parents – particularly in the event of separation – and on a social level they want to address the fallacies about the impact of children growing up with parents of the same gender.

 “The most common myths are that children will be confused about their own sexuality, be less resilient, experience conflict, and suffer other issues as a result of growing up in a same-sex family,” Dr Webb says. 

“The reality is, children raised in a same-sex family environment are no different to children raised by heterosexual couples. In some cases, they are far more resilient, tolerant and open-minded because they have seen their parents’ own struggle for acceptance and equality.” 

To counter the misconceptions, Dr Webb and colleagues from the University of Canberra and Boise State University in the United States carried out an online survey to assess the impact of an educational campaign on people’s attitudes. 

A total of 629 people – including 74 per cent who identified as heterosexual and 23 per cent bisexual or homosexual – were split into two groups and presented with fact sheets about smoking (control group) and same-sex parenting. 

Before completing the survey, they were asked about their attitudes to same-sex marriage and same-sex parenting. 

The fact sheets dispelled many of the concerns that people had over the perceived negative developmental impacts on children with same-sex parents. 

“Our study showed a significant reduction in prejudices held after reading the fact sheets,” Dr Webb says. 

However, the sticking point is that many people believe the central purpose of marriage is to procreate. Since biological children cannot be produced by a same-sex couple, the role of marital equality is not seen as important by some. 

This creates legal issues for same-sex couples in the event of separation involving children, where a third party (a biological parent) has legal rights that supersede that of the parent whose genes are not involved.

 “Legal rights for same-sex parents are ignored by policymakers and the public alike,” Dr Webb says. “By making marriage policies inclusive, regardless of sexuality, it would validate same-sex families and protect them against discrimination.” 

Dr Webb says education is a crucial step towards achieving legal equality for same-sex families. 

Her findings have recently been published in the Australian Journal of Psychology. The survey is a follow up to a 2018 paper which examined the connection between gender role beliefs and support for same-gender family rights. 

Notes for Editors

“Attitudes toward same-sex family rights: Education facilitating progressive attitude change” was authored by Dr Stephanie Webb from the University of South Australia, Associate Professor Phil Kavanagh from the University of Canberra and Associate Professor Jill Chonody from Boise State University.

The Four Types of Love (Some Are Healthy, Some Are Not)💖

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As Valentine’s Day approaches, think about how you use the word “love” in your life. You love your significant other, your kids, your friends and your siblings in different ways. Dr. Kirtly Parker Jones talks about the research behind these types of affection and why our loved ones make us crazy (in good ways and bad ways).

Below is a transcript from an interview with Dr. Kirtly Parker Jones, University of Utah Health.

Love. It’s a word that some of us use a lot. “I love that color on you.” “I just love pizza.” “I love, love, love you” to our little grandchildren. Some of us never feel comfortable using the word out loud. Philosophers, Theologians and now neuroscientists and clinicians think a lot about love. We use this word for so many emotions.

Maybe as we approach Valentine’s Day we should think a little bit about the different kinds of love. Some good for you and good for your health and some maybe not so much. The Western tradition from the Greeks distinguishes four types of love and has a Greek word for all of them. There are many sources that define many other kinds of love but four is a pretty manageable number.

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Eros: erotic, passionate love

We might as well get that one out of the way first. Eros is erotic or sexual or passionate love. It’s often all about need and it’s more about the person who’s feeling sexually attractive than it is about the person who is the focus of that love or thing that is the focus of that love. It is addicting. It can cause great joy and great sorrow. It isn’t always good for you. More hearts are broken on Valentine’s Day due to the unfulfillment of erotic love.

Philia: love of friends and equals

It can be the love between lovers when they’ve been together for a long time and are not so hot and bothered anymore. It’s also called brotherly love as in the city of Philadelphia. The city of brotherly love. Of course, it could be sisterly love and it is the accepting love of good friendship. This is the love that is good for your health. The touch of a loved one. The philia touch lowers blood pressure. People in loving relationships feel your love have few doctor visits, shorter hospital visits, have less pain, and have more positive emotions. All of these positive consequences of philia love, loving friendships make us more resilient when hard times come.

Storge: love of parents for children

This kind of love is what mothers know best but isn’t talked about too much when we talk about love. It is the love of parents for children. It is described as the most natural of loves. Natural in that it’s present without corrosion. It’s emoted because we can’t help ourselves and it pays the least attention as to whether the person is worthy of love.

It’s often transient behaviors that wouldn’t be tolerated in philia love. For example, women can continue to love their children despite truly awful behaviors. Behaviors they wouldn’t tolerate in their girlfriends or their spouses. It seems to come unbidden in the care of a newborn and it grows to allow us to love our children despite their behaviors. Thank goodness for that. In many ways it’s probably a genetically programmed and hard wired love compared to the affectionate love, philia, which is maybe not so hot wired.

Agape: love of mankind

The love modeled on the love of the Christian God for men and the love of man for God. It’s the love that is given whether or not it’s returned. It’s the love without any self benefit. In the Buddhist tradition it is the central foundation of loving kindness for all mankind. This kind of love is important in the process of forgiveness. Forgiveness is important to your health, because the inability to forgive is associated with anger and a number of health outcomes that are not very good. It is love that sets a very hard bar but it may be at the foundation for happiness and contentment.

So, if you are planning something for Valentines Day for the focus of your erotic love, I hope you get it. The good news for your budget is that humans can usually only have erotic love for one person at a time. So it means one card. Good for you.

If you’re planning cards for your philia loves I hope that you have quite a few and they make you smile and that you get a bunch back.

If you’re planning cards for you storge loves your probably just planning on some heart shaped cookies for your kids.

If you planning cards for your agape loves, good luck on that one. You will break the budget and the postal service to send a card to all mankind. But we can take a little moment on Valentine’s Day to send out a little thought message of love and peace to the world.

This interview was originally broadcast by The Scope Radio. The Scope Radio, from University of Utah Health, highlights expert health advice and research you can use for a happier and healthier life.