Department Of Education Removes The Words ‘Father’ And ‘Mother’ From Student Aid Forms, Some ‘Christians’ Freak Out

shutterstock_76262305__1368365721_142.196.156.251In an appropriately progressive move, The U.S. Department of Education has announced that beginning with the 2014-2015 federal student aid form, gender specific terms like “mother” and “father” will be replaced by terms like “parent 1″ and “parent 2.” It’s about time.

From The Washington Times:

“All students should be able to apply for federal student aid within a system that incorporates their unique family dynamics,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement. “These changes will allow us to more precisely calculate federal student aid eligibility based on what a student’s whole family is able to contribute and ensure taxpayer dollars are better targeted toward those students who have the most need, as well as provide an inclusive form that reflects the diversity of American families.”

Sounds fair to me. All parental units are represented. All incomes are reported. What could be wrong with this?

‘As a mother, I find that deeply offensive,’ said Cathy Ruse of the Family Research Council.

‘I carried my children for nine months in my womb, I endured the pain (and joy) of birth, I nursed them for many months after they were born, and every morning they jump into my bed screaming, “Mommy!”

But the federal government says I’m Mommy no more. I am Parent 1. Or maybe Parent 2. Mr. President, I dare you to tell my daughters I’m not their mother.’

I hate to call a mother stupid on Mother’s Day – but if the shoe fits. Lady, you are an idiot. How does representing all parents and incomes on a federal financial aid form nullify the months you spent breastfeeding and the pain you endured shooting a child out of your vagina? That’s ridiculous. But, “Mr. President, I dare you to tell my daughters I’m not their mother” made me spit coffee all over my keyboard. You’re a comic genius and you don’t even know it.

Thank God we are finally starting to evolve. More and more states are recognizing marriage equality and now the federal government is recognizing that different family dynamics exist – and honoring those dynamics. I can’t wait until the day comes when bigots like this have to whisper their prejudices in each other’s ears – not shout them aloud in department of education meetings. I know that time is coming.

(photo: zimmytws/ Shutterstock)

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  • EmmaFromÉire

    It’s that special kind of quote that makes you want to bang your head against a table.

  • keelhaulrose

    Hey, lady, there are lesbian parents who went through all that, too. There are gay fathers who run to boo-boos and have kids jumping on their beds in the morning, shouting “daddy!” And what do you think of opposite-sex adoptive parents? Are they not mommy and daddy because they didn’t go through pregnancy and childbirth?
    The FRC finds offense in everything. It’s a government form, idiot, not a medal for being an awesome mother. Shitty parents fill it out, too. My husband’s abusive step father put his name on the thing. It only means you’re partially financially responsible for the college bound person filling it out.

  • KB

    If that woman thinks bearing and birthing children is the only thing that qualifies someone as a mother, I pity her. That is some truly ignorant shit.

  • Rachelle


  • Alex Lee

    Ruining the sanctity of motherhood, one government form at a time.

    • Cee

      Sanctity of motherhood..hahahaha

    • Sara

      You rely on a government form to give value and validity to your role as a mother?

    • Alex Lee

      Actually, I don’t.

      My response was a tongue-in-cheek comparison of this situation with the Defense Of Marriage Act.

      I’d just as soon sew dayglo-pink leather uterus patches to my jeans than find any sort of validation from a piece of paper.

      Cee got the joke, though.

    • Sara

      Ooooh! Yeah, no, I didn’t get the joke. I thought you were being serious.

  • Cee

    Oh lady, the forms are not telling your child to refer to you as Parent 1 or 2 for life. It is just for the form that wants to include diverse families. I know a lesbian couple that submits forms for their son all the time and they always have to explain two female names/female name on the father’s on. It is stupid that they have to give a whole speech every time they are just trying to submit an emergency card or anything else really for their child, which they care for just as much as a woman who births and nurses a child. I’m sure he doesn’t go into their room screaming “Parent 1 and Parent 2!” but I am sure him and his family go through a lot of unnecessary awkward moments of explaining every form they fill out. This just gets rid of that unpleasant moment and validates that family.

    • Andrea

      Husband and I refers to our sons as Thing 1 and Thing 2. They started retaliating by calling is Parental unit 1 and Parental unit 2. ;)

      I;m just teasing, of course you are right. I care not a jot what I am called on a govt form. I know I am my sons’ mother. Nothing can change that,

  • LiteBrite

    “As a mother, I find that deeply offensive,’ said Cathy Ruse of the Family Research Council.”

    As a PARENT myself, I’m not in the least bit offended. No one is saying you’re not your child’s mother, and to even suggest that is reaching at best.. Methinks Ms Ruse is just digging for something to be offended about.

  • Tea

    Well, it works a lot better than my partner and I getting to decide who’s “Mother.” or “Mrs.” And I feel like her commentary is really invalidating and offensive for any sex-combination of couple who has had to use a surrogate.

  • Melissa K.

    It’s so awesome to see people be tolerant of others opinions… Said no one ever.

    • Simone

      Everyone’s been tolerant of heteronormative opinions for centuries. It resulted in homosexual or otherwise different people being killed, excluded, and financially disempowered. I think we’ve been tolerant of those opinions for just about long enough. Let’s try tolerating the idea that everyone is entitled to feel like a citizen with a right to belong and feel included in the society they contribute to, and see what happens, shall we? It probably won’t result in straight people being bashed or marginalised; if the worst that happens is that some of them feel ‘upset’ about being referred to as a ‘parent 1′, well, maybe that can just cope with that feeling.

    • Roberta

      First of all, you are using that phrase wrong. Everyone here is legally tolerant of others opinions. But if they are stupid, then those opinions don’t have to be agreed with. And I am pretty sure that many people have said that it is “so awesome to see people tolerant of others opinions”.

      Back to the main issue. Did the government say that she is no longer a mother? That she must call herself “Parent 1″? No, they are opening up the forms to accept many more types of families, ones that don’t have different-sex parents. You are being intolerant of the needs of same-sex families (Yes, you). These forms are formally recognizing that many families do not fit the mother/father setup, that’s all.
      In closing, as I said before, all Mothers are Parents, not all Parents are Mothers.

    • allisonjayne

      Free speech doesn’t give you the right to say whatever you want without anyone responding. That’s just not how it works.

    • Sara

      Actually, lots of people say that. All the time.

      However, I think your understanding of what “tolerance” means is off. As a commenter below says, free speech doesn’t mean that you get to say whatever you want and no one is allowed to disagree with you. It only means that you’re protected from LEGAL prosecution for your opinions. If you put your opinions out there, you have to accept the very real likelihood that people will disagree and voice their disagreement. That doesn’t make them intolerant, it makes them people who have just as much of a right to state their opinions as you do.

    • Psych Student

      You’re right, I am not tolerant (do not like, though accept that they have the right to say it) of the religous right. To be fair, they aren’t tolerant of me (a lesbian) either. I admit that it’s childish to say “I don’t like them because they didn’t like me first”. But it’s also childish to, based on their reading of a holy book, decide that I shouldn’t be able to visit my wife in the hospital, stay in the house we share if she dies, decide what to do with her body if she dies (many rights have to do with tragic events), make sure the non-birth mom can take our children across state lines (step-parents have similar struggles with their step-children), just because I’m gay. They do this while ignoring the parts of their holy book that tell them that women who aren’t virgins on their wedding nights should be stoned, that you shouldn’t mix two types of material for clothing, and that menstrating women should be shunned because they are unclean.

      I haven’t done anything to you (“you” meaning the peole of The Family Research Counsel, One Million Moms, etc., not Melissa K.), and yet you (again, not Melissa) just because I exsist, regardless of what kind of an impact I have on you. Not only do such groups oppose gay marriage, they oppose protective measures for LGBTQ people and non-discrimination acts, they oppose *any* discussion of gay relationships in schools, they oppose Gay-Straight Alliance clubs, they oppose gay/lesbian teens taking their same-sex date to dances. They don’t just not want to hear what we have to say, they want us not to exsist. And I take that personally. I haven’t done anything to them and they think I shouldn’t exsist. Talk about intolerance. Sure, I should “turn the other cheek”, “love my enemy”, etc. but I’m an atheist so I don’t have to abide by those bible verses. I don’t have a problem with religious people in general. My dad is religious and is one of the greatest people I know (biased opinion). He believes, about everything that you should “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. This means, be nice, don’t say mean things about other people, don’t deny other people rights, and give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I’ll admit, it’s a bit nauseating at times. Sometimes I just want to say that some people suck (NAMBLA (man-boy love assholes) for example – are just shitty people (though I think even my dad could agree with that)).
      I think that the slaves who were owned before/during/after the civil war are entitled to be intolerant of those who owned them or those who supported such behavior. I also think that when a person or group of persons thinks that I’m a terrible person when I’m not hurting anyone by just living my life, I have the right to be intolerant, not of what they say, but of the measures they are trying to take to keep me from having equal standing in this country.

  • Roberta

    I think we should go to the next level and use the term “parental unit” at all times, if only because it makes it sound like your options can also be cyborgs. That would really freak her out :P

  • Rachel Sea

    As we all know, the details and dynamics of our relationships are strictly dictated by the labels on government forms. I, for example, felt compelled to call my wife by her title, Domestic Partner, everywhere we went from 2005 to 2008, and she would either call me Domestic Partner or Dependent, based on how recently she had touched insurance paperwork. The looks we would get in restaurants when they asked for a name for the reservation. Since our Civil Marriage, I lovingly refer to her as Party B (her nickname is Student), which is finally an accurate representation of our union.

    • BlueBelle

      I laughed out loud at this. Fantastic blurb.

  • brebay

    Hahaha! That lady is insane. How does she get from this that Obama is stripping her of her maternity! It’s hard to believe anyone sober could come up with such an out-there line of reasoning, but then I guess if you believe in a magical daddy in the sky….

  • Jessie

    I’m sorry, but this is just too over the top. Parent 1 and parent 2? Is that like Thing 1 and Thing 2? For goodness sake, just stop with making everything so damn PC. Or do it and don’t announce it. Aggghhhhhh.

    • Cee

      The thing is that lgbtq parents HAVE to announce it every time they fill out a form that does not validate their parentage to a child. They HAVE to announce it when they fill out their child’s school, hospital, dental, financial aid forms. This negates having to make a big announcement to any child that does not have a mother and father. It doesn’t make you thing 1 and thing 2, it makes two equal parents. Whether it is a mother and father, mother or father, mother and mother, father and father and everything in between. YOUR lifestyle, which I would assume is somewhere in the traditional route based on your outrage has given you a privilege in which you have had to go through lengthy explanations about a simple form. Open your mind.

    • Melissa K.

      I’m surprised you were able to type that without using the word “bigot.” How about opening YOUR mind and seeing why things like this make people upset, rather than automatically going on the defensive like so many others on here.

    • Cee

      Oh it does not require an open mind to know why people get upset over something like this. It requires more of a high tolerance for stupidity and bigotry aaaah I said it! Aaah!

    • Melissa K.

      *slow clap* Yep. Totally open minded.

    • Roberta

      I think Cee does get why others are upset. However, compared to the previous method of forcing a gay couple to fit the “mother/father” paradigm, and government forms not recognizing that there are multiple forms of families, it is rather not a big deal to be called a “parent” as opposed to a “mommy”. Remember; All Mothers are Parents, but not all Parents are Mothers.

    • Guerrilla Mom

      “Open minded” by definition means willing to accept new ideas. Accepting that things like this need to change and evolve with the times is totally open minded. Tolerating other people’s closed mindedness doesn’t make one open minded.

    • Melissa K.

      And refusing to understand why someone is upset makes you (speaking generally) an asshole with severely limited emotional intelligence. Rather than calling Cathy Ruse an idiot or a crazy woman, take a moment to consider why this is upsetting to her. Think outside the damn box. It goes beyond being called “mother” on a piece of paper.

    • Guerrilla Mom

      How? Why should this be upsetting? Because it includes all parents and not just her situation? Why should every other type of parental unit be left out because she has an incessant need to be called the gender specific “mother” instead of “parent” on a government form? If a “husband” is referred to as a “spouse” on a form – is that a reason to be upset, too?

    • Melissa K.

      Again, you’re missing the point I’m trying to make. It goes beyond a damn form. But hey, if you’re too dense to figure it out, I won’t continue wasting my time trying to explain. No point in trying to talk to someone who’s already so dead set on their views that they can’t see beyond their own nose.

    • Cee

      Thank you for describing yourself to us :)

    • BlueBelle

      This is such flawed logic. The you-think-you’re-so-open-minded-and-tolerant-but-you-won’t-tolerate-my-intolerance! is the worst (THE WORST) argument. It is a cop out and a self-righteous excuse that only demonstrates a lack of education, awareness, and thinking on the accusers part. Death to this trite and ill-used line of reasoning. Bury it alongside “If guns kill people then spoons make people fat and pencils misspell words.”

      I am open to opinions I disagree with. I am NOT open to lazy arguments and trite blanket statements.

    • jessica

      Of course! People who don’t agree with you and see the world exactly as you do are always stupid! Right on!

    • allisonjayne

      So….what exactly IS the point you are trying to make?

    • Sara

      Yes, I think we all understand your point. You believe that the change in the form is indicative of a larger societal unraveling of traditional family roles and morals, and that the interests of “traditional” families are being victimized and sacrificed on the pyre of political correctness. You feel that the mother/father delineation represents one of the major pillars of civilized society–defined gender roles and the view of a valid parental pair as specifically a mother and a father. Recognizing that any other configuration could be valid is therefore upsetting to you.

      Your opinion really isn’t nearly as complex as you think it is. It’s very easy to understand. Most of us just happen to disagree with you. It’s okay. It happens. You’re still allowed to think what you want to think, but you’re really going to waste a lot of time being angry and bitter if this is your stock response to anyone disagreeing with you. You could just accept that not everyone shares your views and move on with your life.

    • Psych Student

      You’re right, it goes beyond the form. Cathy Ruse would be upset if people who aren’t straight would be included in *anything* not just school forms.

    • jessica

      Sweetie, please. Everyone gets WHY this lady (and I guess you too) are upset. We just think you’re being petty and oversensitive.

    • Sara

      It’s obvious why you’re upset. It’s really not difficult to understand at all, assuming that you have the intelligence of, say, a pile of algae.

      Most of us simply disagree with you. Disagreeing is not the same thing as not understanding.

    • Sara

      I don’t think she’s an idiot or a crazy person because she’s upset. She has the right to be upset if she wants to be.

      What she doesn’t have the right to do is to expect that the rest of the world will always conform to her narrow views of what’s morally appropriate, and if that means that entire groups of people will be left out to avoid upsetting the status quo, well that’s just too bad for them.

      Including other configurations under the umbrella of what makes a valid family doesn’t take away from my role as a mother or my husband’s role as a father. She’s as much of a mother as she always was. The difference is that all the families who were marginalized for decades by these heteronormative conventions are no longer being dismissed. It’s a shame that she appears to be so insecure that she can’t feel validated in her role as a mother unless her validation comes at the expense of someone else.

    • Elizabeth

      Kind of evident which side is the most angry here. Sorry, Melissa K, that you’re being slammed for your views. People preach about moving on, but they sure like going into attack mode when someone disagrees. While I don’t share your opinion- I honestly don’t give a damn what a paper says- I can at least appreciate where you’re coming from and have the class to not attack you for it.

    • lea

      Ahhh what? Melissa K’s posts read “attack mode” to me.

      Calling someone an “asshole with severely limited emotional intelligence” doesn’t sound awful classy to me, either.

    • jen

      A mother is a parent and a father is a parent. So Parent 1 and Parent 2 is accurate and concise and doesn’t require people who have “non traditional” families to stop, call whoever in regards to the paperwork, explain their personal situation which is no one’s business, find out the best way to fill it out the form then fill out the form…2 hours to fill out a form that should take 2 minutes. Are you offended filling out forms that lists Child 1, Child 2, Child 3 and their names dob? this is no different.

  • lin

    If I had a form sent home with Parent 1 Parent 2 on it, I don’t think I would think anything of it. At all. Crazy lady.

  • Roberta

    Personally, I would be far more concerned that this mom is needs a school board policy to validate her status as “mother”, rather than a gender-neutral term that all parental units can fall under. The school board I grew up with has been using “Parent/Guardian” for years and no one gives a crap.

  • Simone

    I wonder if the Family Research Council is funded by the NRA. It’s certainly a conservative Christian lobby group. It’s just a feeling you get, you know? This makes as much sense as that NRA bloke who yelled that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun. This level of stupid hurts.

    Some people don’t seem to realise that the Others have already won, they already exist, there are already thousands of couples raising perfectly nice children yet are not a standard mom and pop couple. It’s like they think that squawking about crap like this will somehow prevent non-heternormative people from creating families. People, non-heteronormatives are ALREADY creating families. Perfectly nice, regular, ordinary families, with children who learn manners and go to school and make mistakes and ride bikes and hang out with other kids and who will probably grow up to realise that human rights belong to ALL humans, not just white, heterosexual, Christian humans.

  • Shelly Lloyd

    I haven’t had a chance to read through all the comments, so maybe this has been said already. But if they have to seek validation as mothers though government forms–then they are pretty insecure as mothers.

  • Victoria

    I’m curious what they replaced it with…MILF/Baby Daddy? Ooh, Parent 1 and Parent 2. Sounds like Dr Seuss! I’m way too young to be nostalgic for the ‘olden days’ but I’m kind of sad that ‘mother’ and ‘father’ are no longer politically correct in our social/bureaucratic lexicon. I guess I could see why people would dislike it, though.

    • CMJ

      I don’t think it’s the fact that it’s not politically correct but more that Parent 1 and Parent 2 more accurately reflect the various types of households that exist today. Everyone is a parent – not everyone in a familial unit is a mother and a father.

    • Victoria

      True, it’s outdated. Aside from same-sex parents, grandparents or family friends who are legal guardians could also use it. But still, it seems sad to end something that seems so homey and 1950s style. But progress goes on.

  • AS

    What about children who are being raised by grandparents, aunts, uncles, other guardians, step-parents? This helps in those cases too. Does everything have to be a perceived attack? Sheesh. This form change probably helps out a good chunk of American families and not just the LGBT Community – did she ever think of that?

    • Sara

      That is an excellent point, and one I hadn’t thought of before.