Monday, July 21, 2008

Families on the Frontlines: Children Ask, Children Tell

PFLAG's series 'Families on the Frontlines,' leading up to Wednesday's historic Congressional hearings on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' continues with this January 2008 post from

Family Under Fire:
Iraq War vet tells of struggles to raise two sons while closeted

Five-year-old William and three-year-old Ryan are the children of decorated U.S. Army officer Cheryl Parker. Like other children of service members, they have dealt with cross-country moves and months without their mother while she was deployed in Iraq. Unlike the others, however, they must forgo many benefits, conveniences and support services offered to military families, or risk revealing that they have another mother, Donna Lewis. This could lead to Parker’s dismissal under the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, even in LGBT-friendly Massachusetts. (Note: Names and identifying details have been changed to protect the family.)

In the close-knit community of an army base, there is a strong chance the young children will inadvertently out their mothers. “When I tried to put William in on-base daycare,” explains Parker, “he would talk about having two moms. A lot of the daycare workers are spouses of military personnel. I don’t need somebody’s wife saying ‘What’s the deal with William Parker?’” The same applies to the other activities provided by the Army family centers, such as kiddie gym classes. “The questions start and then the lying begins, and it’s just too complicated.”

The couple is adamant, however, that however much they must lie to protect their family, they will never have their children do so. Lewis explains “We can’t take them to the commissary together anymore. One of the boys will say ‘Mom? Not you, my other mom.’ We can’t tell him ‘Don’t say that,’ because he’s going to say ‘Why?’ The best way to deal with it is just not to put them in that situation.”

Continue reading 'Children Ask, Children Tell' at . . .

Stock photo for illustration purposes only. Story subject is not pictured to protect the identities of those involved.

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