Pediatricians in Australia say the ugly rhetoric being stirred up in the country’s debate on marriage equality is having a negative impact on children in same-sex families.
Opponents of marriage equality have been using misinformation and slurs to scare people into voting “No” in the national postal survey: In Melbourne, a poster showed men gripping rainbow belts over a scared child, with the tagline “Stop the fags.” (One poster claimed gays and lesbians were “40% of child predators”)
In Sydney, mailboxes were stuffed with leaflets declaring “Homosexuality is a tragedy of a family, a grave to the family bloodline, a curse of family sonlessness.” It went on to warn 92% of children raised by gay parents are abused. (And, oddly, that three-quarters of children of gay parents are obese.)
The hateful rhetoric is damaging to mental health just damaging the mental health of children of gay couples, though: It’s internalized by queer youth, as well.
“Young LGBTIQ+ people are much more likely to experience poor mental health, self-harm and suicide than other young people,” Frank Oberklaid of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute told the Courier Mail. “Sadly, this is largely attributed to the harassment, stigma and discrimination they and other LGBTIQ+ individuals and communities face in our society.”
A report from the institute corroborated multiple studies finding that children of same-sex parents do just as well as the offspring of heterosexuals.
“The strong consensus from the studies that are methodologically sound is that there are no ill effects from being raised in same-sex families,” said Oberklaid. “This will both reassure the many families in Australia who are same gender, and really sort of undermines the case for those that have claimed we are raising a potential future Stolen Generation.”