This is an argument I heard from Elisabeth Guigou, a former left-wing French Ministre de la Justice who was deeply in favour of marriage for everyone, including gay couples. However, regarding the right to adopt, she was against it – as are still the leaders of the governing Left in France today.
So that was her argument to justify her position. “A child must not believe he comes from two men or two women. He must always be able to understand and know that a child is born when a man and a woman are involved”. There is behind this, the matter of human survival. With 8 billions of us and counting exponentially, I think we’re safe but I do understand this.
However, it is flawed when used to prevent gay couples from adopting.
I am not going to argue or counter-argue the people who, in 2015, despite all scientific evidence, are still saying that a child can only be “normal” if he is raised by a father and a mother. This has been and is being argued out and frankly the people who still believe in it are now choosing to do so and nothing I or anyone else says will make them change their mind.
I am also not going to argue, once again, the false argument of gender roles. “A child needs a strict yet playful, strong and handsome father as well as loving, caring, softly-spoken, cuddly mother”. We were already moving away from that in the 1960s.
I say “he” for a child because in French, “child” is masculine so we use “he”. I am very confused with English because the British used “she” as a general term for all baby animals but “they” as a general term for people…
So Madame Guigou says that gay couples should not adopt because there is a risk that the children will grow up thinking that they are the product of two men or two women.
Let me put it to you this way: the only way this can happen is if the couple makes the decision to lock away their adopted child in a dark basement, with no contact with the outside world, no media of any kind from books to radio or TV, with no education, no friends, no family. Basically nothing but the contact of his two same-sex parents who will have to carefully programme their adopted child to distrust everything he sees, hears, reads and is told expect for them.
Frankly, anyone doing that must never be allowed to be anywhere but in a psychiatric hospital, certainly not adopt a child. And proportionally, we had more instance of this kind of mistreatment coming from straight parents than gay parents…
The truth is: a child will not grow up believing he comes from two men or two women. Why? Because he will interact with his family to begin with. Even before speaking proper words, he will see things and his brain will start putting A + B together. He will see that his fathers themselves have a father and a mother each. He will have uncles and aunts who are not gay and therefore will be dating or married to someone of a different gender and he will see his cousins coming from different gendered parents. He will basically be the only one, or maybe with his siblings, to have same-sex parents. So like every child, he will ask questions and he will learn that his situation is different. Not worse, just different.
And let’s say, his parents lie and tell him he’s coming from two men. This child will go to school, see his classmates interact with different gendered parents, he will go to birthday parties, he will see how the others are living and he will put the two together: there is something different in his family. Maybe he will ask the teacher or someone else and they will tell him about his situation.
Let’s say, again, that everyone, from the teachers to all the other parents, was briefed by the parents to hold their tongues and lie to the child. Let’s say they are all bastards who think it’s for his own good. That child will watch TV, see different gendered couples and their children, he will read books with the prince and the princess who get married and have a lot of children. He will see films and see that everywhere the man and the woman fall in love and have babies. He will see that everywhere he looks, it’s always a man and a woman having children. So he will put the two together. Then look at his parents and realise his situation is unusual.
Let’s say he doesn’t, he will have biology lessons when he is told bluntly that a man and a woman are needed to make a baby.
Let’s say he doesn’t listen and would rather text the girl he has a crush on, well he will have sex with her and find out for himself!
I am being silly now but that’s the point. This kind of sophism sounds very noble and perfectly acceptable but when you take just a few minutes to think about the practicalities of everyday, they are just plain irrelevant. The problem is that gay couples are still prevented from adopting, children are still wasting their childhood in the orphanages of France and many other countries because people still believe that. They still believe that these children will be forever twisted, somehow psychologically deficient and socially disabled because of their parents’ sexuality.
These couples could be making a child happy and a child could be growing in a safe and secure, loving and caring environment but no, the ones in power cannot see further than their fear of the unknown. What are Madame Guigou and all the others still scared of? That the child learning the truth about his conception will turn him upside down, throw him into a world of disbelief and make him murderous or socially inept?
In France the debate has forced people who were raised by gay couples in the 1980s/1990s to come out and show how very “normal” they all are. You see men and women brought up by gays and lesbians, but who are straight, married with kids and who say the only difference between their family and the ones of their friends and spouse is that the parents are the same gender. End of! But still, it’s not enough. Frankly, any excuse would do when it comes to prevent gay couples from having the same rights as others.
Now…Yes! It is true to say that the family and our parents are our first force of socialisation. Our parents are the first pillars of our social understanding, however, we also live in a society that influences our behaviour and thinking. If you consider the first 18 years of our life, in France, we can spend up to 15 of them going to school, interacting with different people, learning about facts and different points of view. We are not all screwed up because something we thought was the norm in our family turned out not to be.
The society has a huge influence of us, especially in this day and age of modern, mass and social medias. If the society were irrelevant to changing the behaviour, understanding and beliefs our family gave us, the reactionary forces would not be fighting and spending so much to prevent forward, conflicting and open thinking from getting a share of the voice. People who went on marches to oppose gay marriage in France are afraid of one thing: that their children will agree with different beliefs and eventually teach them to their own children. Therefore bringing an end to the vision they have of the world.
This idea that a child raised by two men or two women will forever believe it is possible for two men to procreate is to deny completely the human society, its influence and its teachings. Worst! It is to deny the capacity of gay couples to provide a fair, comprehensive, proper education to their children, all based on one aspect: their sexuality – a sexuality that “cannot benefit the human race” by bringing another life.