‘Highlights’ Children’s Magazine Will Publish Image Of Same-Sex Couple In February

Last year there were serious accusations of homophobia aimed at Highlights magazine for children, but the publication is now getting ready to publish an image of a same-sex couple for the first time in order to prove to critics that they are not homophobic.

The image of the same-sex couple will be featured in Highlights‘ February edition and shows two men and their children packing a car and getting ready for a family vacation, with a caption asking if readers have taken memorable family trips before, and if so, to let Highlights magazine know the details.

“Has your family ever taken a memorable family trip? Tell us where you went and what you liked about it.”

The Washington Post reported that last year, Highlights came under fire from critics who were accusing the children’s magazine of neglecting their LGBT readers. Highlights was then criticized by conservative critics after the publication announced that they would make a point to include LGBT readers in future editions.

Mark Beckfold and Steve Ledoux hold their child and celebrate the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage in West Hollywood, California on June 26, 2015.
Mark Beckfold and Steve Ledoux hold their child and celebrate the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage in West Hollywood, California on June 26, 2015. [Image by David McNew/Getty Images]

Christine French McCully, the editor-in-chief of Highlights, has said that while she expects there to now be a backlash against the magazine’s decision to publish an image of a same-sex couple, she would like critics of this decision to be aware that the publication’s focus has stayed the same and that Highlights aim to create excellent content for the children who are reading it.

“We did expect and received a backlash when we committed to becoming more fully reflective to all the different kinds of families out there. We expect this will make some people unhappy. Our focus remains on creating the best possible content for children.”

The original criticism which accused Highlights of being homophobic began in October, 2015, when Kristina Wertz complained about how few same-sex couples appeared in Hello magazine, which is published by Highlights. Wertz is an LGBT activist and thought that Highlights should be featuring more diverse families in their magazine.

On October 14, Kristina Wertz created a Facebook post that criticized Highlights Hello magazine for their lack of same-sex couples.

“One of the reasons we appreciate Hello 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 in Hello magazine. 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.”

Highlights then responded to Wertz’s comment on October 16 by saying that it was up to parents to broach the topic of same-sex relationships with their children when they felt their children were ready and explained that parents knew best.

“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.”

After a public backlash, Highlights apologized for their initial comment, stating that their reply to Kristina Wertz’s criticism was not “reflective of our values, intentions or our position.”

Leah Finch and Adrien Hornby celebrate their marriage with daughter Molly Hornby-Finch in Amherst, Massachusetts on May 17, 2004.
Leah Finch and Adrien Hornby celebrate their marriage with daughter Molly Hornby-Finch in Amherst, Massachusetts on May 17, 2004. [Image by Angela Jimenez/Getty Images]

Highlights went on to say that they felt that families matter, and that they understood, as a publication, that there were a lot of different ways to create a family. They also said that they felt that “love” was the most essential ingredient within families and the conversation that Kristina Wertz had opened up had allowed them to realize that they could be more “reflective” when it came to different families in future publications of theirs.

The stance that Highlights took on same-sex couples worried conservatives, including the American Family Association, who asked people to “urge Highlights to go with their initial decision and not cave into pressure from homosexual activists by including same-sex families in the magazines.”

The American Family Association also noted that at that time of year, there were many grandparents and other family members who were actively in the process of purchasing magazine subscriptions for young children as gifts, and that these people should be warned if there were going to be any upcoming changes revolving around same-sex parents in future editions of Highlights magazine.

Highlights magazine has said of their idea to include an image of a same-sex couple in February’s edition of the magazine that, “It was never a question of if, it was always a question of when.”

How do you feel about Highlights including same-sex parents in their magazine now and would that change your opinion of it and why?

[Featured Image by Don Arnold/Getty Image]