Highlights Magazine Excludes Same-Sex Families From Its Publications

Children’s magazine “Highlights” excludes parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer (LGBTQ) from its publication claiming that families across the country are not ready to embrace images of loving same-sex families.

Parents Kristina Wertz and Kara Desiderio contacted Highlights Magazine’s customer service in September to express the concern that their daughter did not see her family represented in her favorite magazine. The couple voiced their appreciation for family diversity portrayed, but was disappointed that LGBTQ families were still not present in the magazine. No response was received until their concerns were expressed via social media.

After posting their concerns on the Highlights Magazine Facebook page, the magazine representatives replied to the family with an offensive and noncommittal response, calling the same-sex family a “situation” and noting that their staff still does not know how to introduce same sex parents to an audience that is “new” to LGBTQ parents. The couple amplified their response on Facebook and the post received over 600 comments overnight (and continues to grow) from educators, LGBTQ parents, heterosexual parents and community members who are eager to see full inclusion of family diversity portrayed.

“We ask the magazine to reconsider their choice to continue to omit representation of LGBT parents. Our families are part of the American fabric and it’s high time our kids saw themselves and their families represented,” said Renata Moreira, Interim Executive Director at Our Family Coalition, California’s largest LGBTQ family organization.

Our Families and Family Equality Council have since reached out to Highlights, offering to work with their staff. Parents and community members demand that Highlights Magazine embrace family diversity and set up a clear timeline for when LGBTQ families will be represented in their magazines.

“I have fond memories of reading Highlights as a child,” said Anthony Martinez, communications director for Family Equality Council, the national organization working towards lived equality for LGBTQ parents and their families. “It is painful to look at the statements that were issued by Highlights, especially the one that calls LGBTQ families a ‘situation.’ It is obvious that they are in need of education, and we hope that they will take our invitation to work with our organizations towards educating their staff and developing age-appropriate content.”

Yesterday evening, bowing to pressure, the magazine issued another statement that showed support for LGBTQ inclusion in their magazines, but stopped just short of confirming it.

“As a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community, I think a lot about the things that create culture – the subtle and not so subtle messages that our kids get about how the world works. Since becoming a parent, I feel keenly aware of the messages kids’ books send to tiny minds. There is a deep need for children’s books and magazines that positively reflect back the diversity of the world around us, and I hope that Highlights embraces that diversity,” said Kristina Wertz, parent of a one-year old.

For copies of the communications sent to Highlights Magazine by Ms. Wertz and Ms. Desiderio or to schedule an interview, please contact Anthony Martinez, 312.863.9632 or at amartinez@familyequality.org.

Family Equality Council works to ensure equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) families by building community, changing hearts and minds, and advancing social justice for all families. We envision a future where all families, regardless of creation or composition, will be able to live in communities that recognize, respect, protect, and celebrate them. We envision a country that celebrates a diversity of family constellations and respects individuals for supporting one another and sustaining loving families.

Our Family Coalition advances equity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) families through support, education, and advocacy. They seek to create an inclusive and just world where all LGBTQ families have visibility and opportunities to thrive as valued participants in our schools, institutions, and communities.