‘Highlights’ Children’s Magazine To Publish Image Of Same-Sex Couple In February Issue, Controversy Ensues

Just months after being accused of homophobia, Highlights children’s magazine is planning on including a same-sex couple as part of its February magazine’s illustrations. The move will mark the first time Highlights has featured a same-sex couple in the popular publication, and the decision is already being met with some public backlash.

As The Washington Post reports, the planned illustration of the same-sex couple in Highlightschildren’s magazine is expected to be of a gay couple. The two men are to be shown loading a vehicle for a family trip with their kids, shining the spotlight not just on a same-sex couple but on a family with same-sex parents. What’s more, the illustration is part of a Highlights page inviting children (and all readers) to send letters to the magazine describing any family vacations they may have taken.

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

As The Christian Post reports, the decision of Highlights children’s magazine, one of the longest-running magazines of its kind in the United States, to feature a same-sex couple has infuriated “some Christians.” In fact, the Christian-centered publication calls Highlights’ decision to include a same-sex family an attempt to “lace their content with sexual themes,” despite the fact that the same-sex couple in question is doing nothing more sexual that loading a station wagon. In cartoon form.

Some on social media shared similar views, calling out Highlights for their decision to represent same-sex families in their magazine for the first time.

According to the folks at Highlights, including editor-in-chief Christine French Cully, the magazine was fulling expecting the response it has received from the anti-LGBT community. However, she says that Highlights has striven to become “more fully reflective” of family diversity.

“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.”

Highlights’ decision to represent same-sex couples/families in their popular magazines came after allegations of homophobia in late 2016. The lack of LGBT representation in the magazine became a public issue when a Facebook post about the magazine’s lack of same-sex illustrations went viral. That Facebook post was written by LGBT activist Kristina Wertz, who is also in an open same-sex relationship. She complained of the lack of same-sex families in Hello, a Highlights children’s magazine targeting children two years of age and under.

“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.”

The response to Wertz’ widely-shared Facebook post was enormous, with many vowing to cancel their subscriptions to Highlights until the children’s magazine began representing “families like theirs.”

Highlights first responded to the viral post and the outrage it spawned on October 16, releasing a public statement that caused even more anger and backlash against the magazine. According to Highlights’ October 16 response, discussions of same-sex families are better left for parents to initiate, adding that “parents know 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.”

Many in the LGBT community (and those who support it) took offense to Highlights’ statement, believing that it implied that there is something “wrong” with same-sex relationships and families. The children’s magazine ended up issuing a retraction of their statement, along with an apology.

“We want to reiterate that we believe all families matter. We know that there are many ways to build a family, and that love is the essential ingredient.”

Highlights children’s magazine went on to promise to be “more reflective” of diversity, including the LGBT community and to add illustrations to that effect in upcoming issues. That decision appeared to placate liberals and infuriate conservatives, but it appears that Highlights has lived up to its word.

Christian advocacy group One Million Moms, affiliated with the American Family Association (the people behind the Target transgender bathroom boycott), took offense to the Highlights decision, urging the children’s magazine to revert back to its original stance of allowing families to personally discuss same-sex relationships with their children at their own leisure.

“This would be a deal breaker for conservative families. Parents are left with no other choice than to cancel their subscription.”

So far, the group hasn’t commented on the decision of Highlights children’s magazine to include a same-sex couple in its upcoming February issue.

[Featured Image by Lorelyn Medina/Shutterstock]