My 13-year-old identifies as polyamorous. What should I do?

A dispatch from the front lines of the Sexual Revolution. This comes from a New Zealand newspaper’s advice column:

I consider myself a loving, approachable and understanding parent. This week, my 13-year-old LGBTQI+ teen came out as being polyamorous. In no way was I prepared for this … I don't want my teen to be amorous with anyone at 13, let alone multiple people.

A LGBTQI+ polyamorous 13-year-old? Is that even a thing? Maybe. It's more likely that a confused girl was just teasing her confused mother. But polyamory must be emerging from the shadows if it's on the radar of teenagers in New Zealand. The respected financial magazine Barrons’s even featured an article about estate planning for throuples recently.

Harvard University is a greenhouse for thought-leaders. So an initiative promoting polyamory rights at Harvard Law School suggests that a new set of civil and human rights is in the making.

The Polyamory Legal Advocacy Coalition (PLAC) is a multi-disciplinary coalition supported by some Harvard academics. Its head, Alexander Chen, the first openly trans editor of the Harvard Law Review, told Harvard Law Today that empirical research supports polyamory. “This research shows that these types of relationships are not unhealthy for families and children and can be healthy and stable,” says Chen.

Cambridge, the suburb where Harvard's campus is located, and neighbouring Somerville, recently passed domestic partnership ordinances to recognise and protect polyamorous and other multi-partner families and relationships. The PLAC hopes that this augurs “a wave of legal recognition for polyamorous families and relationships in 2021”.

Polyamorous people experience a lot of discrimination, according to the PLAC, and need protection. A polyamorous representative on the municipal council in another suburb near Harvard, Amos Meeks, says: “We’re a family, we care deeply about each other, we share expenses and live in the same household and share all the little aspects of life together, but that’s not recognized under existing laws in any way. There’s no recognition and there’s no protection.”

Americans cannot say that they weren’t warned. When the US Supreme Court held in Obergefell v Hodges in 2015 that same-sex marriage was a constitutional right, Chief Justice John Roberts warned that this would eventually lead to protection for polyamorous relationships:

If “[t]here is dignity in the bond between two men or two women who seek to marry and in their autonomy to make such profound choices,” why would there be any less dignity in the bond between three people who, in exercising their autonomy, seek to make the profound choice to marry? If a same-sex couple has the constitutional right to marry because their children would otherwise “suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser”, why wouldn’t the same reasoning apply to a family of three or more persons raising children? If not having the opportunity to marry “serves to disrespect and subordinate” gay and lesbian couples, why wouldn’t the same “imposition of this disability,” serve to disrespect and subordinate people who find fulfillment in polyamorous relationships?

This kind of argument puzzles Natasha Aggarwal, an Indian lawyer who works with PLAC. “I don’t quite understand why polyamory is problematic,” she says. “From my perspective it just means there is more love in the world, that your heart is so big you are capable of loving multiple people in the same capacity at the same time.”

There’s a good reason why it’s problematic. Polyamory – three or more adults in consensual sexual relationships, both homosexual and heterosexual – is not a good way to raise children. Polyamory is regularly featured in the New York Times, but seldom are offspring mentioned.

Society should not get into the business of protecting lifestyle choices for people who have lost sight of what sex is all about. We all have a stake in men and women ushering a new generation into the world, but not in subsidising their desire for pleasure.

Polyamorists paint their lifestyle in glittering colours. “I've experienced more joy, trust, compassion, growth, and moments of tenderness than I ever did in monogamous relationships in my past,” says Dedeker Winston, author of The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory. But this is nonsense. Polyamory is just the ermine robes of sexual anarchy.

We were told that legalising same-sex marriage would change almost nothing. A 13-year-old wannabee polyamorist puts the lie to that.


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