UNIT: Parental Decision Making: What’s Best for Children . . . Or What’s Best for Parents?
Issue: Is It Beneficial if Adoptive Parents Adopt Only Within Their Own Racial/Ethnic Group?
YES: Tony Dokoupil, from “Raising Katie: What Adopting a White Girl Taught a Black Family About Race in the Obama Era,” The Daily Beast, 2009
NO: Ezra E. H. Griffith and Rachel L. Bergeron, from “Cultural Stereotypes Die Hard: The Case of Transracial Adoption,” Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry Law, 2006
Tony Dokoupil is a staff writer at Newsweek and The Daily Beast. Dokoupil writes about different issues affecting national life, often related to diversity. In this chapter, he writes about the increasing number of trans racial adoptions in the United States in recent years but notes that we are seeing limited examples of African American families adopting white babies. When an African American family adopts a white baby, a unique set of challenges is created, he argues, due to deep-seated views about race in American society today. Dokoupil explores questions related to what this reveals about contemporary views on race in American society. Ezra Griffith and Rachel Bergeron, both faculty members of the Yale University School of Medicine’s psychiatry department, argue that requiring racial and ethnic matching, although an appropriate effort would leave too many children of color languishing in the foster and adoption systems. By maintaining that only in-race adoption is the best and ideal situation, they ask rhetorically, does our society actually do more to reinforce cultural stereotypes or to truly serve children needing homes?
Issue: Does Divorce Have a Negative Impact on Children?
YES: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser, from “Does Divorce Have a Negative Impact on Children?” revised from Taking Sides: Family and Personal Relationships, 2009
NO: Jane Johnson Struck and Angela Thomas, from “Solo Act: Single Mom Angela Thomas Reflects on Raising Kids Alone,” Today’s Christian Woman, 2008
Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser is a writer and lives in Northampton. She earned her BA at Hampshire College and her MFA from Warren Wilson College. Contributor to many magazines, newspapers, and online publications, she has a blog called “Standing in the Shadows,” which can be found at valleyadvocate.com. Jane Johnson Struck and Angela Thomas are the authors of My Single-Mom Life, published by Thomas Nealson. Thomas, a mother of four, possesses a Master’s degree from the Dallas Theological Seminary. Thomas writes that being a single mom was not God’s design for parenting. She believes in children being raised by a man and a woman in love. Despite her beliefs and the challenges she has faced through divorce, her belief is that God and Jesus protect her and her children when they are in need. She argues that faith in God is what people need to protect them from the challenges of being a single mother and a child of a divorced family.
Issue: Is Homeschooling Kids in Their Best Interest and Ours?
YES: Laura Grace Weldon, from “Erasing My Homeschooling Misconceptions: A Parent Dispels Six Myths about Educating Your Own Children,” LILIPOH, 2013
NO: Dana Goldstein, from “Liberals, Don’t Homeschool Your Kids: Why Teaching Children at Home Violates Progressive Values,” Slate, 2012
Laura Grace Weldon argues that for most of human history, children have been educated by their parents. Homeschooling follows this long and proud tradition in which schools were an unnecessary institution. She contends that with the test-heavy approach of public schooling, homeschooling frees parents to create a hands-on educational system that more fully engages their child. Dana Goldstein argues that homeschooling is bad for children and for the larger society. The children who are homeschooled suffer from the lack of diversity. Goldstein argues that these children often come from privileged families, at least families privileged enough in which one parent can stay home. She explains that poor children perform better when in class with middle-class students.
Issue: Should Pharmacists Be Able to Deny Emergency Contraception to Potentially Pregnant Women?
YES: Justice James A. Knecht, from Morr-Fitz v. Pat Quinn, Judgment of the Court, 2012
NO: Susan A. Cohen, from “Objections, Confusion Among Pharmacists Threaten Access to Emergency Contraception.” The Guttmacher Report on Public Policy, 1999
Justice Knecht argues that pharmacists have a right for conscious-based objections for dispensing emergency contraception. Susan A. Cohen argues that allowing pharmacists to deny emergency contraception is not their right and creates a slippery slope with giving people other necessary medications.
UNIT: Parental Control and Children’s Rights
Issue: Should Illegal Immigrant Families Be Able to Send Their Children to Public Schools?
YES: William Brennan, from Majority Opinion, Plyler v. Doe, U.S. Supreme Court, 1982
NO: Warren Burger, from Dissenting Opinion, Plyler v. Doe, U.S. Supreme Court, 1982
William Brennan is regarded as one of the greatest intellectual leaders of the twentieth-century -Supreme Court. He was regarded for writing extraordinarily forward-thinking opinions, especially regarding civil rights and civil liberties. This case proves no exception, as he captures an issue that seems even more pertinent today than when the Supreme Court addressed it. Brennan believes that children who are in the country and undocumented have a constitutional right to a public education. Warren Burger was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court during a time in which it was slowly moving in a more conservative direction. He was an instrumental voice in many cases before the Supreme Court that had a more conservative outcome. Burger believes that undocumented immigrant children have no constitutional right to an education.
Issue: Should Parents Be Able to Choose Their Baby’s Sex?
YES: Ellen Painter Dollar, from “Why Allowing Parents to Choose Their Baby’s Gender Is Wrong,” Patheos (& Other) Peeps, 2012
NO: Angela M. Long, from “Why Criminalizing Sex Selection Techniques Is Unjust: An Argument Challenging Conventional Wisdom,” Health Law Journal, 2006
Ellen Dollar argues that it is morally wrong to choose a baby’s sex. She argues that this invites sexism and creates a slippery slope. Angela Long argues that denying sex selection can be overly restrictive as well as too punitive. Furthermore, some laws fail to stop all methods of sex selection.
Issue: Should Grandparents Have Visitation Rights for Their Grandchildren?
YES: Jennifer Russell, from “Grandparents Play an Essential Role in the Lives of Their Grandchildren,” written for Taking Sides: Family and Personal Relationships, 2011
NO: Sandra Day O’Connor, from Plurality Opinion, Troxel v. Granville, U.S. Supreme Court, 2000
Jennifer Russell is an attorney at SeniorLAW Center. She provides legal services to grandparents and other seniors raising relative children. Russell contends that grandparent custody and visitation statutes should be upheld, and argues that grandparents often play an essential role in their grandchildren’s lives, especially during times of family turmoil. Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court. For much of her time on the court, she was the justice most likely to wind up in the majority opinion. O’Connor argues that the rights of parents trump grandparents. As a result, grandparents would not have the right to see their grandchildren.
Issue: Should Courts Be Able to Discriminate Against Immigrant Fathers?
YES: Neal Kumar Katyal et al., from “On Writ of Certiorari: Brief for the United States,” Ruben Flores-Villar v. United States of America, 2010
NO: Steven F. Hubachek et al., from “On Writ of Certiorari: Brief for Petitioner,” Ruben Flores-Villar v. United States of America, 2010
Neal Kumar Katyal served as Acting Solicitor General in the Obama administration at the time of this case. Katyal argues that Congress created legislation with a different standard of citizenship for biological fathers versus biological mothers and that this different standard served a rational interest and should be upheld. Steven Hubachek is the Counsel of Record for the Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc. Hubachek argues that this law discriminates against men because it makes it more difficult for immigrant fathers to pass on their citizenship to their children than for immigrant mothers.
Issue: Do Parents Have the Right to Deny Their Children Lifesaving Medical Care Due to Their Religious Convictions?
YES: Calvin P. Johnson, from “Closing Statement for Parents: In Re the Matter of the Welfare of the Child of Colleen and Anthony Hauser,” Minnesota, District Court, Fifth Judicial District, 2009
NO: John R. Rodenberg, from “Opinion of the Court: In the Matter of the Welfare of the Child of Colleen and Anthony Hauser,” Minnesota, District Court, Fifth Judicial District, 2009
Calvin P. Johnson, Esq., is the attorney for the parents, Colleen and Anthony Hauser. Johnson argues that the government forcing medical care for the Hauser child violates his religious liberty and is abusive to this child. John R. Rodenberg is the District Court judge in this case. Rodenberg argues that all parties are acting out of convictions for the best interest of the child. He also argues that the state has a compelling interest to act against Hauser’s religious views for medical care since the child is only thirteen years old.
Unit: Non-Traditional Families and Relationships
Issue: Does the Federal Government Discriminate Against Same-Sex Couples If It Refuses to Recognize Their Marriage?
YES: Anthony Kennedy, from Majority Decision, United States v. Windsor, Supreme Court of the United States, 2013
NO: Antonin Scalia, from Dissenting Opinion, United States v. Windsor, Supreme Court of the United States, 2013
Anthony Kennedy argues that same-sex couples face unconstitutional discrimination from the federal government when their relationships are not recognized. Kennedy argues that the Defense of Marriage Act discriminates against and demeans same-sex couples. Antonin Scalia argues that the U.S. Constitution does not provide any specific protections for same-sex couples. In fact, he argues that the Court should not even be hearing this case. However, since they did hear the case, he argues that the Court has no power to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.
Issue: Should Private Sexual Acts Between Gay Couples Be Illegal?
YES: Anthony Kennedy, from Majority Opinion, Lawrence v. Texas, U.S. Supreme Court, 2003
NO: Antonin Scalia, from Dissenting Opinion, Lawrence v. Texas, U.S. Supreme Court, 2003
Anthony Kennedy, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, was appointed to the Court by President Reagan in 1988. In this case, Kennedy is writing for a six-member majority that overturns a previous case, Bowers v. Hardwick. Bowers is overturned by Kennedy’s opinion, therefore striking down state anti-sodomy laws. Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, was appointed to the Court by President Reagan in 1986. Scalia writes that there are no constitutional protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation and that state sodomy laws should be upheld.
Issue: Are Traditional Families Better Than Nontraditional Families?
YES: Allan C. Carlson and Paul T. Mero, excerpts from The Natural Family: A Manifesto, 2005/2006
NO: Mark Good, “Nontraditional Families and Childhood Progress through School,” written for Taking Sides: Family and Personal Relationships, 2012
Allan Carlson is President of the Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society and Distinguished Fellow in Family Policy Studies at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. Paul Mero is President of the Sutherland Institute and a Trustee of the ALS Foundation. Carlson and Mero argue that America needs to return to a traditional family headed by a man and woman. Mark Good is a Professor of Counselor Education at West Chester University and the President of Opn-Wyd, a diversity and communication company. Good argues that diversity in traditional and nontraditional families is healthy. In fact, he argues that it can be damaging to hold up the traditional family as the ideal familial structure.
Issue: Is Hookup Culture on College Campuses Bad for Heterosexual Girls?
YES: Amy Julia Becker, from “Hookup Culture Is Good for Women, and Other Feminist Myths,” Christianity Today, 2012
NO: Timaree Schmidt, from "Hookup Culture Can Help Build Stronger Relationships," Original Work, 2014
Amy Julia Becker argues that hookup culture demeans women. From a Christian perspective, she argues that sex leads to greater life fulfillment when removed from the hookup culture. Timaree Schmidt argues that hookup culture is nothing new and that it can be healthy for people to have different sexual experiences.
Issue: Are Teenagers Too Young to Become Parents?
YES: The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, from One in Three: The Case for Wanted and Welcomed Pregnancy, 2007
NO: Simon Duncan, Claire Alexander, and Rosalind Edwards, from “What’s the Problem with Teenage Parents?” in Teenage Parenthood: What’s the Problem? 2010
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy is dedicated to reducing teenage pregnancy. Their research argues that teens face significant consequences if they have -unplanned pregnancy. Simon Duncan, Claire Alexander, and Rosalind Edwards have written a chapter in a book about teen pregnancy and parenting. This chapter, which takes a global perspective by looking at another Western society, England, argues that teenage pregnancy and parenting is not a problem.
UNIT: Twenty-First Century Family and Relationship Issues
Issue: Is Cybersex “Cheating”?
YES: Susan A. Milstein, from “Virtual Liaisons: Cybersex Is Cheating,” written for Taking Sides: Family and Personal Relationships, 2009
NO: Crystal Bedley, from “Virtual Reality: Cybersex Is Not Cheating,” written for Taking Sides: Family and Personal Relationships, 2009
Susan Milstein is a Certified Health Education Specialist and a Certified Sexuality Educator. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Enhancement at Montgomery College in Maryland, as well as the Lead Consultant for Milstein Health Consulting. Milstein contends that while it is difficult to create a universal definition of cheating, the majority of people feel that cybersex outside of a primary relationship is cheating. Crystal Bedley argues that the anonymous nature of cybersex means that it is not cheating.
Issue: Is Internet Pornography Harmful to Teenagers?
YES: Wayne Grinwis, from “Is Pornography Harmful to Teenagers? Yes!” revised from Taking Sides: Family and Personal Relationships, 2009
NO: Justin A. Sitron, from “Why Porn Is Not Harmful to Teens,” revised from Taking Sides: Family and Personal Relationships, 2009
Wayne Grinwis has been a Sexual Health Educator for Planned Parenthood for 15 years. He is also Adjunct Professor in the Department of Health at West Chester University. Grinwis credits Andrea Daniels for help with this article. Grinwis argues that pornography is all right for adults, but for teenagers, it can create unrealistic expectations about sex, provide a negative and inaccurate sexuality education, and increase sexual violence against women. Justin Sitron is an Assistant Professor of Education at Widener University. Sitron argues that pornography has no negative impact on teenagers and, in fact, has potential benefits. Sitron contends that Internet pornography can be helpful in providing teens an opportunity to see real bodies, a chance to learn about sex from seeing rather than doing, and an open door for communication with parents.
Issue: Are Statutory Rape Laws Effective at Protecting Minors?
YES: Sherry F. Colb, from “The Pros and Cons of Statutory Rape Laws,” CNN, 2004
NO: Carolyn E. Cocca, from “Prosecuting Mrs. Robinson? Gender, Sexuality, and Statutory Rape Laws,” Deviance, 2002
Sherry F. Colb, Columnist and Law Professor, uses a case study involving a statutory rape case to raise concerns about whether rape and assault cases would be prosecuted sufficiently without statutory rape laws. Although not perfect, statutory rape laws can be assets in such rape cases when the older partner denies the rape occurred or denies responsibility for a resulting pregnancy or infection. Carolyn E. Cocca argues that while the laws are written in a gender-neutral way, the enforcement of these laws is heavily influenced by societal attitudes toward males and females. She argues that in effect these laws punish consensual sex and disproportionately punish same-sex relationships.
Issue: Do Reality Television Shows Have a Negative Influence on Teenage Pregnancy and Parenting?
YES: Jessica Isner, Annie Koval, and Lisa Paul, from “True-Life Teen Moms, Experts Say MTV’s ‘Reality’ Off the Mark,” NWI Parent, 2011
NO: The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, from “Evaluating the Impact of MTV’s 16 and Pregnant on Teen Viewers’ Attitudes About Teen Pregnancy,” Science Says, 2010
Jessica Isner, Annie Koval, and Lisa Paul wrote this article for NWI Parent, which advertises that their publication provides “Real Solutions for Real Families.” The authors are concerned that MTV’s episodes related to teenage parenthood fail to capture accurately the true challenges of teenage parenthood. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy is dedicated to reducing teenage pregnancy. Their research reveals that teenagers who watch 16 and Pregnant are more likely to express a negative view about the ways in which parenthood affects a teen’s life.
Issue: Should There Be Harsh Penalties for Teens Sexting?
YES: Lisa E. Soronen, Nicole Vitale, and Karen A. Haase, from “Sexting at School: Lessons Learned the Hard Way,” National School Boards Association, Inquiry & Analysis, 2010
NO: Julie Hilden, from “How Should Teens’ ‘Sexting’—The Sending of Revealing Photos—Be Regulated?” Findlaw Website, 2009
Lisa E. Soronen, Nicole Vitale, and Karen A. Haase are writing on legal issues for the National School Boards Association. This article encourages administrators to hand over cell phone sexting cases to the appropriate law enforcement agencies. Julie Hilden is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School. A former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, she has more recently appeared on Good Morning America, Court TV, CNN, and NPR. Hilden argues that harsh penalties are extreme and unjust.
Issue: Are Open Relationships Healthy?
YES: Donald Dyson, from “Seeing Relationships Through a Wider Lens: Open Relationships as a Healthy Option,” written for Taking Sides: Family and Personal Relationships, 2009
NO: Stanley Kurtz, from “Here Come the Brides: Plural Marriage Is Waiting in the Wings,” The Weekly Standard, 2005
Donald Dyson is assistant professor of human sexuality education at Widener University and the national co-chair of the conference for the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists. Dyson argues that there are essential qualities of a healthy relationship and that an open relationship can be successful. Stanley Kurtz, a writer and senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, argues that allowing same-sex marriage will create a slippery slope, eventually leading to plural marriages. Kurtz contends that such marriages prove destructive to the institution of marriage itself.