Same-sex marriage is everywhere in the news today as homosexuals rally for gay and lesbian rights. As a result, more and more states are sanctioning gay marriage, affording these happy couples the same rights and privileges that straight people enjoy. Your kids, however, may have questions about this controversial topic, and these seven questions can open the door to positive discussion, no matter the child’s age.
What is Same-Sex Marriage?
If the child asking is between the ages of six and nine, you can give a simple answer that it’s a marriage of two daddies and two mommies. Older kids may already understand what it means to be gay or lesbian. You can explain that in many ways, it’s no different than when a man and a woman get married.
Why Do People Think It’s Wrong?
Because everyone has a different opinion on same-sex marriage and your own views will come into play here, this is never an easy question to answer. You can explain that some people’s religious upbringing formed their world view. Others may have been raised with that viewpoint.
Why Isn’t It Legal Everywhere?
Get out a world map and discuss the different countries and states where gay marriage is legal. Explain that while it’s not legal everywhere in the U.S., laws are slowly changing to allow people equal rights. You can also talk about U.S. history and the progression of civil rights.
Is Gay Marriage Different Than Other Marriages?
Explain to your child that the only difference is the gender of the couples. Other than that, most marriages between gays and lesbians are no different than other married couples. They can buy homes, have children, and provide a loving home for their kids, just like any stable married couple.
Why Are Laws Taking So Long To Change?
Talk about the history of other civil rights movements with your child. Explain that many people are afraid of change and often want things to stay the same because it’s a comfort to them. Then point out that laws are changing in the U.S., but that proper legislation takes time.
Why Does Everyone Argue About It?
For younger kids, you can point out that everyone has a different opinion about a topic, and that they are entitled to express it because Americans are allowed to do so. You can also explain that while an intelligent debate is allowed, they should never encourage hate speech if they encounter it in school. This is especially important for older children and teens, who might start to encounter gay slurs and negative attitudes as they enter middle and high school.
What Can I Do About This?
Let your child know that change begins with the individual. Tell them that while they won’t have a voice in the government until they’re eighteen, their personal beliefs still matter. Older kids can talk to their friends about tolerance and stand up against homophobia if they encounter it from their peers. Talking about same-sex marriage can be difficult, but if children are old enough to ask these questions, then they are most likely old enough to have them answered honestly.