American Girl magazine is under fire from a controversial parenting group for running an article about an 11-year-old foster child with two dads.
One Million Moms has called for a boycott of American Girl products and its parent company, Mattel, warning parents to “be careful” not to expose their kids to the story to “avoid a premature conversation she is far too young to understand.” The group said the magazine should have “chosen another child to write about and remained neutral in the culture war.” It added, “American Girl is attempting to desensitize our youth by featuring a family with two dads,” then drew on the Bible: “Scripture says multiple times that homosexuality is wrong, and God will not tolerate this sinful nature. American Girl doesn’t highlight other sins in their magazine.”
American Girl magazine’s story, which appeared in the November/December 2015 issue, tells the story of Amaya Sheer, an 11-year-old from Maryland who is one of four black children the Sheer family has adopted. The article was written by an adult but is told through Amaya’s perspective, outlining how she and her brothers arrived at the Sheer family’s home as foster children with only a trash bag full of personal belongings. In the story, Amaya discusses her father, Rob Sheer, and his charity, Comfort Cases, an organization dedicated to providing backpacks to foster children filled with life’s daily necessities — from pajamas and toothbrushes to stuffed animals and blankets. The story, headlined “Forever Family,” also featured a photo of Amaya and her brothers with their fathers, Rob (“Daddy”) and Reese (“DaDa”).
Rob Sheer, once a foster child himself, says he wasn’t surprised by the outcry. “I don’t live in a plastic bubble. I am a gay man, and I have four African-American kids. I understand people out there are ugly,” he tells the Washington Post.
What “shocked” him, though? That a moms’ group is speaking out against his family. “I didn’t expect a group of moms to say we are sinners,” he said. “I look at a woman and see someone who has given so much love to bring a child into this world. … How could that same person look at these four children and say they don’t deserve that unconditional love?”
The Sheer family has received rude phone calls to their home, but also an outpouring of support, especially from their church congregation, they say. Wrote one commenter in an NBC article: “It is so sad that anyone who calls themselves a ‘Mom’ can look at happy children with loving parents — especially a child and family like this who are trying to help other children in need as Jesus himself would ask us to do — and only speak hate. This family is the face of love in the service of others.”
American Girl magazine is standing by the story. “Amaya’s story about her efforts to help kids in foster care is a perfect example of how one young girl is making a meaningful difference in the lives of others,” spokeswoman Julie Parks says. “Our singular goal is to encourage, inspire, and unite girls of all ages and backgrounds, and we love shining a spotlight on their amazing gifts and achievements.”
Amaya’s response to One Million Moms was much simpler: “This is none of your business.”
This isn’t the first time One Million Moms has stirred controversy. The group protested the hiring of Ellen DeGeneres as JCPenney’s spokeswoman due to her sexuality, Urban Outfitters for showing two women kissing in its catalog, and a Campbell Soup ad featuring two dads, among many others.