Our kids, then 6 and 11, used to pour over their Highlights for Children received in the mail. Of course, they could have read Highlights in their elementary school library, but it seemed special to them to receive their very own copy!
We did some of the crafts and puzzles, and, of course, read the stories. One of their favorite sections was “Where’s the Hidden Picture?” Just this week, the trusted non-controversial magazine founded in 1946 became the center of controversy.
The Hidden Picture for Kristina
This controversy began this past October when an LGBT activist named Kristina Wertz posted about the lack of same-sex couples in Hello, a Highlights magazine aimed at children up to 2 years old. Kristina wrote to the magazine’s editors that she’d like to see families with homosexual partners be depicted positively and regularly.
The editors responded by basically saying that the conversations involving same-sex families should be initiated by families. “The topic of same-sex families is still new, and parents are still learning how to approach the subject to their children. We believe that parents know best when their family is ready to open conversation around the topic of same-sex families.”
Although the magazine editors assured Kristina that “it is very important to us that every child see his or her ‘face’ in the pages of our magazine at some point,” LGBT activists didn’t want to wait for the Highlights editor to “continue to think deeply about inclusion.”
Quick as the next day, Highlights apologized, saying its initial response was not “reflective of our values, intentions of our position. All families matter. Love is the essential ingredient,” according to the magazine’s statement.
True to its word, Highlights, in February, will include an illustration of two men loading a station wagon for a family trip in an item that invites readers to send letters.
With Inclusion Comes Backlash
Despite Highlights’s plans to bring the family up-to-date to “help children become their best selves and understand that all families, including theirs, are important,” this inclusion has upset the conservatives. While the magazine does not discuss relationships among adults, Rod Dreher of The American Conservative derided Highlights “it is insane that Highlights for Children gets bullied into this, and that the editors would capitulate so quickly. Within a year or two, Highlights is going to face enormous pressure to, um, highlight transgendered tots?”
One Million Moms, a division of the Christian advocacy group the American Family Association, on December 21, warned that parents are left with no other choice than to cancel their subscription.”
The Hidden Picture
This planned picture in Highlights has already sparked over 1,000 words and will continue to do so. Says the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Christine French Cully, “we expect this will make some people unhappy.”
Families come in all shapes and sizes now. There are families headed by grandparents, single parents, multi-racial families, same-sex families made by adoption or surrogacy; Highlights is attempting to reflect the new modern family. Highlights has come out of the closet. The picture that was once hidden is now hanging on its wall for all its readers to see.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.