What is a parent? Debate report by Mariantonietta Acocella

Should gay couples be able to adopt children? This is the topic we discussed in our class debate. The two teams of speakers tried to support their thesis by presenting research carried out by psychologists and other researchers and also by interviewing people directly.

The group in favour of gay adoptions argued that according to the Oxford Dictionary, a family is “a group consisting of two parents and their children living together as a unit”. This definition does not make any distinction between parents’ genders, and what is really important is the unity of the group members. By focusing on the fact that family is a love shelter, the for group claimed that the right to be considered as parents should be based only on the love and protection a couple gives their children and not on their sexual orientation. In order to confirm their thesis, the speakers talked about episodes of family violence in heterosexual families and the consequences on children. In my opinion, family symbolises love and it doesn’t matter if parents are homosexual or heterosexual: love does not depend on sexual orientation.

On the other hand, the against group talked about the social and psychological disorders children could suffer from if they grew up in a homosexual family. Children with two mothers or two fathers probably don’t know the difference between the role of a father, who generally encourages his children to face obstacles and sets limits, and that of a mother, who tends to be more protective. Consequently, they often end up thinking that living in a homosexual family is unnatural. They suffer from the absence of a male or female role model and they are often jealous of friends living in a standard family. This suffering increases even more when other children make fun of them at school. I think the real problem is how parents contribute to their children’s growth. If children knew there was no difference between heterosexual families and homosexual ones, they wouldn’t make fun of children with two fathers or mothers.

Only the against group received questions, which they answered by confirming their position, but not very convincingly. They said that a real family has a mother and a father and children need both figures. The group in favour won the debate,  and obviously I was delighted with this result. As David Leavitt said “Love springs up between people not genders. Why do we have to set limits upon ourselves?”


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