There is something wrong with being gay. There is also something wrong with having two parents of the same sex. Kids, whatever their family background, can't help but at least wonder if this is the case as long as gays and same sex parents are completely absent from almost all of their TV programmes, films and books.
Our two year old daughter, Edie (yes, she is named after Edie Windsor), is outgoing, energetic, funny and popular with everyone she meets. Like many other two year olds she has her favourite friends at crèche and goes at life with boundless, fearless enthusiasm. She finds joy in the smallest of things and loves to meet other people whatever their age.
Edie has two mums and for now she is completely unaware that this is a different arrangement to most of the other families she comes into contact with. For now, there is nothing worse in life than forgetting to take Elmer the elephant to bed or Captain Barnacles in the buggy.
As she grows and learns about the realities of life she will also become aware of the fact that having two mums is different. She will find herself having to constantly explain to other kids that she has two mums and that this is her 'normal'. It will be all the more difficult because her peers likely won't have come across same sex parents before, and even if they have, almost certainly not on a regular basis. It's is therefore not 'normal' to them. Edie will also wonder why there is no one like her parents in anything she watches or reads. It will be something other - something shadowy, shameful, and ill-defined.
Research has shown that it is this sort of low level but persistent stigmatisation that causes problems for children of same sex parents. It's not because there are inherent problems in having two mums or two dads but the disconnect that children of same sex parents and their peers have with each other. It's the constant explanations to the new class and the weight of having to explain about what same sex parents are, and having to answer the inevitable questions that will follow.
Given the rising numbers of same sex parents (the numbers are sketchy but there are estimated to be around 20,000 children with same sex parents in the UK and 6,000,000 in the US) it's about time we were represented in children's TV, films and books. I'm not just talking about a character that 'might be gay', I'm talking about openly gay or bisexual characters who just happen to be gay - they are not there as a token gay but are just like all the other characters around them when it comes to their similarities - and differences - that make them individuals. Just like in real life.
This is not about 'being PC', or 'pushing an agenda' or any of those other things that the willfully misinformed or uninformed say. The bottom line is that Edie needs to see more of us represented in the mainstream media to feel less stigmatised as she grows up.
(first published in The Huffington Post on 25 April 2016)