I remember reading Highlights as a kid. I loved it–I would sit on my bedroom floor and spend hours reading it and enjoying all of the activities in the magazine. Recently, the magazine, which was started in June 1946, made a commitment to include same-sex parents in future issues. This is clearly a monumental decision not only for the country as a whole (especially now), but for a magazine that is 70 years old.
Of course, this decision does not come without its share of controversy. For me, I fully support this message of diversity and inclusion–children learn acceptance early on, and what better way to do it? Sadly, not everyone else feels this way. There is now an online petition on One Million Moms calling for Highlights mag to change its decision. Yup, that’s right–these people are against love.
One Million Moms, which is part of the conservative American Family Association, says they are committed to maintaining the “morality” of the traditional family (which means no LGBTQ families). A post by the group on the site titled, “‘Highlights‘ Magazine Has Caved to the Left” reads:
“Where is the last place parents would suspect their kiddos to be exposed to same-sex ‘families’ portrayed as normal? In the current controversy, Highlights magazine decided to include same-sex families in their magazines. Babies and preschoolers will soon be introduced to this sensitive topic in the Highlights line of magazines. Parents are seeing more examples of children being indoctrinated to same-sex families as normal, especially in the media. Children’s publications are no longer off limits, even those that cater to toddlers and elementary age children.”
The thing is, these parents can’t shield their kids forever, as any parent knows. And it gets worse. Their objective, as they’ve publicly stated, is to “protect” their children from the “decay of morals and values.” Not accepting others seems like a decay of moral values, but that’s just me.
The magazine originally made the choice to include same-sex parents in future editions in response to frustration expressed by the LGBTQ community this past October. The conversation was started by a now-viral Facebook post by New York mom Kristina Wertz, who wrote on the magazine’s Facebook page after her partner’s written letter went unanswered:
“One of the reasons we appreciate Hello [Highlights‘ popular magazine for younger readers] is the diversity represented — families of all races, interracial families, and grandparents. We are consistently disappointed, however, in the complete lack of same-sex parents … I think a lot about the things that create culture – the subtle and not so subtle messages that our kids get about how the world works. Since becoming a parent, I feel keenly aware of the messages kids’ books send to tiny minds. There is a deep need for books that positively reflect back the diversity of the world around us and I hope that Highlights embraces that diversity because we would love to keep it in our little one’s life as she grows.”
“Highlights” then issued a response to Wertz’s Facebook post–which frustrated the LGBTQ community further:
“We understand your wish to see your family’s situation represented in Highlights Hello. For much of our readership, the topic of same-sex families is still new, and parents are still learning how to approach the subject with their children, even the very little ones. We believe that parents know best when their family is ready to open conversation around the topic of same-sex families.”
Naturally, one reader commented with the obvious (or should be obvious) statement that if “seeing same-sex families in Highlights would be traumatic, then those parents best stay out of our country’s malls, parks, restaurants, and movie theaters, because we are everywhere.”
However, editor-in-chief Christine Cully eventually changed her mind. In an email obtained by “The American Conservative,” Cully wrote that the magazine wants to be more diverse:
“[It] strives to be diverse in every way [by] show[ing] blended families, multi-generational families, and multiracial families … In the future, we will depict same-sex families in our magazines … in support of our mission to help children become their best selves and understand that all families, including theirs, are important.”
The company has also recently updated their website, stating:
“When we represent families (or any character) in the magazines, we make it a point to include diversity. We strive to be diverse in every way; the goal is not to specifically call attention to diversity but to represent it within the context of the magazine the way we always have to help kids understand that while differences exist, we are all actually more alike than different. Whether incorporating families headed up by a grandparent or single parent, or including adoptive families, blended families, same-sex families, multi-generational families, and multi-racial families, our depiction of families is in support of our mission to help children become their best selves and understand that all families, including theirs, are important.”
I’m glad Highlights ended up doing the right thing and standing by the LGBTQ community, especially in a time when there is so much strife and political turmoil–and many institutions choose to ignore the problem. For parents (and you know, humans in general), it’s imperative that we teach our kids to be loving, compassionate, and kind–and to think well of others even if they make different choices than our own.