On June 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States declared same-sex marriages to be legal in every state. This information with a copy of the corresponding legislative regulation is revealed in the article “Supreme Court Declares Same-Sex Marriage Legal in all 50 States” that is published online on the NPR site (Chappell, 2015). The author, Bill Chappell, emphasizes that the USA, as a state that cherishes democracy and human rights above all, considers non-recognition of same-sex marriages as a violation of human rights and deprivation of people’s freedoms. This premise became the basis of the appropriate law that allows same-sex marriages all over the United States. Barrack Obama publicly admitted that, even though this decision was unexpected, he appreciated the approach of the Supreme Court to assure equal rights for every American citizen. Therefore, Obama pointed out that “the ruling will strengthen all of our communities by offering dignity and equal status to all same-sex couples and their families” (Chappell, 2015). Comprehending the importance of this event, it is appropriate to scrutinise what impact the corresponding legislation may have on children’s development. The aim of this paper is to discuss the effect of the same-sex enactment on the development of the youths by analysing it from the perspective of Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory.
To begin with, it is appropriate to accentuate that microsystem is the layer that is the closest one to child’s cognition (Paquette & Ryan, 2001). Children directly interact with the microsystem environment and, consequently, are greatly affected by its influence. In addition, one should comprehend that this interaction is interdependent and thus it is characterized with bi-directional impacts. The agents that belong to a child’s microsystem are family members, close relatives, and friends. These people shape the cognitive and mental development of children, simultaneously being affected by the young. Linking the concept of microenvironment to same-sex marriage, it is possible to make the following assumptions. Firstly, the corresponding legislative regulation is aimed at aligning the sacred role of marriage with the today’s social demands (Chappell, 2015). It goes without saying that this approach will have a great impact on children. Specifically, the legal and social recognition of the equity of gays’ relations is supposed to instil in children the sense of tolerance towards the differences in personal characteristics, preferences, and life choices. In this way, a child’s micro system is being shaped by gay-friendly attitudes enhancing the level of children’s tolerance and respect to human rights. Without a doubt, it is a positive trend, but it also suggests a number of novelties, which the humanity is not ready to face. The fact is that most child development theories are based on children’s interaction with their parents who become important role models. Furthermore, the interaction between role models is viewed from the perspective of the inter-generic communication. In accordance with this knowledge, psychologists develop the approaches that help people correct their behaviour in order to be capable to enjoy themselves and the surrounding world to the fullest. Considering the changing behaviour of role models, who are also moral agents for the growing generation, it is impossible to predict what impact this considerable change in micro system may have on child’s psyche.
According to Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory, exosystem is “the larger social system in which the child does not function directly” (Paquette & Ryan, 2001). Nevertheless, the interaction with this broader environment is conducted through one or several agents of a child’s microsystem. For instance, exosystem includes parents’ workplaces and “community-based family resources” (Paquette & Ryan, 2001). In terms of exosystem, the enactment of the same-sex marriage law means that children will experience greater impact of the gay’s lifestyle through both direct and indirect upbringing. Moreover, it is appropriate to presume that a larger amount of young people will experience the impact of gays’ culture and relations. It is expected to happen, because the children who are not shaped by this impact at the level of their microenvironment, most likely, will be indirectly affected by the concept of same-sex marriage through their exosystems. Scrutinizing what impact in terms of inter-generic relations the increased number of same-sex marriages may have on the growing generation, one should comprehend that this tendency will erase the traditional distinction between the males’ and females’ roles. In this way, the enactment of same-sex marriages becomes complimentary to the women liberalization, since both struggles strive to accomplish equity for every person eliminating the discrimination basing on gender or sexual preferences. Consequently, this impact of a renewed exosystem is positive; however, it will also evoke new concerns, uncertainties, and issues. For example, it will inevitably result in a cultural change.
Children’s macrosystem is “comprised of cultural values, customs, and laws”(Paquette & Ryan, 2001). Keeping this definition in mind, one can rightfully deduce that the influence of the same-sex marriages will be captured in the American popular culture manifesting itself in the new cultural values, traditions, and moral norms. It means that the corresponding legal regulation will change the culture of the USA. As a result, the macrosystem of a child will be shaped accordingly. Apart from the abovediscussed positive and negative implications, one should acknowledge that the equity of sexual minorities will result in the enhanced level of social anxiety and stress. It can be caused by the explicit and implicit conflicts between traditional relations and gay culture. What makes the things even worse is that children may be directly involved into the confrontation with their peers (especially during puberty and teen years). Consequently, it is appropriate to conclude that today’s macroenvironment of the young strive to instil the notion of tolerance, but simultaneously may provoke social conflicts and result in additional anxiety.
Finally, evaluating the impact of same-sex marriages on a child’s development, one should observe it from the perspective of chrnosystem which “encompasses the dimension of time as it relates to a child’s environments”(Paquette & Ryan, 2001). Given the definition, it is natural to presume the optimistic implication that is the taming of confrontation between traditional and gay marriages. In particular, considering that child’s perception changes while being shaped by various layers of the ecosystem, the interaction with the new realities are expected to instil the proper behavioural patterns of tolerance. In this way, young people may mitigate the ratio of anxiety and enjoy their community in spite of the rapid social changes that provoke the increase of social diversity.
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On the whole, this article makes me feel that American community endeavours to address the needs of every citizen. As a result, this motive induced public awareness, which, in its turn, encourages the Supreme Court to adopt the corresponding regulation. Undoubtedly, the enactment of the same-sex marriage law will cause conflicts between gay and gay-friendly people and adherents of the traditional relations. Unfortunately, it will result in the increased level of anxiety in the American community that will affect all layers of a child’s ecosystem. Nevertheless, in a medium and long-run perspective, this ruling is expected to instil proper behavioural patterns of tolerance, inclusion, and respect towards social diversities.
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