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PARENTS
 

Pete Buttigieg Announces He and Husband, Chasten, Are Now Parents

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New Report: Gay Dads Make Better Parents

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Daddy, Poppa, Grace, and Charlotte

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Pete and Chasten Buttigieg to Become Parents After Adoption Struggle
Video: Two Dads, Two Kids, Normal Family

Stories of Gay Dads and Their Foster Families

 

 

New Report: Gay Dads Make Better Parents

Singer Brandi Carlile: Raising Children as an LGBTQ Mom

Kids Can Thrive with Gay Parents

Happy Father's Day

Brief History of LGBTQ Parenting

Stories of Gay Dads and Their Foster Families

Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen Celebrate Father's Day

Children Raised by Same Sex Parents at No Disadvantage

Gay Parents: Anthony and Bryon's Story

AAMFT: Same-Sex Parents and Their Children

Advocate: Study on Lesbian Moms Shows Kids Are Alright

Gays With Kids: Mitch and Jake’s Adoption Journey

Conservatives Outraged: Gay Couple on Cover of Parents Magazine

Info: LGBTQ Adoption

No Differences Between Children of Same-Sex and Opposite-Sex Parents

Children of Gay Parents Speak for Themselves
Gay Dads Share Personal Stories

Info: LGBTQ Families

New Book: Ultimate Guide for Gay Dads

 

LGBTQ Parents in the Mainstream

 

These days, gay parents are no novelty.  We see them strolling through our neighborhoods, participating in our PTA meetings, and, perhaps most notably, appearing on our TV screens...  Mitchell and Cam, fathers to Lily, on the ABC TV show Modern FamilyGlee's Sue Sylvester, expectant mom to a baby conceived with an as-yet-unrevealed sperm donor.  Also on Glee, Rachel's dads, played with humor and grace by Jeff Goldblum and Brian Stokes. In 2011, Annette Benning was nominated for multiple awards, including an Oscar, for her portrayal of a lesbian mother to two teens (and Julianne Moore's partner) in hit indie movie The Kids Are All Right. These Hollywood examples are important in that they've helped present gay parenting as not unlike straight parenting: challenging, joyful, complicated, and most of all, entirely normal.

 

 

Though this media "mainstreamification" of gay parenting is a relatively new phenomenon, for decades, gay parents have had children in all sorts of family configurations, including through adoption, previous heterosexual relationships, or, increasingly, by choosing to have biological offspring using in vitro, surrogate, and other methods. According to the 2010 census, a quarter of same-sex American households are raising children, gaining ground on heterosexual couples, who parent at a rate of just under 50 percent. So, millions of children in the United States today have LGBTQ parents.  And, just as these families have appeared front and center in the opening credits of the American sitcom, so too have they shouldered themselves front and center in the group photo of the real life American family. Turns out "alternative families" aren't so alternative anymore.

 

Lesbian Moms Raising Children

Stories of Gay Dads and Their Foster Families

Surrogacy to Start a Family: Tips for Gay Men

LGBTQ Parenting

Research: LGBTQ Parents and Healthy Family Dynamics

Gay Parent Magazine

Lesbian Couple With Two Kids: Questions for an LGBTQ Family

Terrell and Jarius: Young Black Gay Couple With Two Babies

Info: LGBTQ Families

Advocate: What I've Learned From Being a Gay Dad

In My Shoes: Stories of Youth with LGBTQ Parents

PBS Video: Olivia Has Two Moms

Straight Daughter Responds to Questions About Her Lesbian Moms

 

 

Same Sex Parents and Their Children


Studies estimate that between 1 and 9 million children in the United States have at least one parent who is lesbian or gay. There are approximately 594,000 same-sex partner households, according to the 2000 Census, and there are children living in approximately 27 percent of those households.

It is difficult to obtain an accurate count of same-sex parent families because many lesbians and gay men are not open about their sexual orientation due to fears of discrimination, such as loss of employment, loss of child custody, and antigay violence. There is not a “usual” gay family. Some same-sex couples may decide to have a child within their relationship, while others may bring children from previous heterosexual or same-sex unions. The rise in same-sex parenting is partially due to the increase in options available for same-sex couples to become parents. Although most children of same-sex couples are biological children of one of the parents, a growing number are the result of donor insemination, surrogacy, foster care and adoption.

 



Most research studies show that children with two moms or two dads fare just as well as children with heterosexual parents. In fact, one comprehensive study of children raised by lesbian mothers or gay fathers concluded that children raised by same-sex parents did not differ from other children in terms of emotional functioning, sexual orientation, stigmatization, gender role behavior, behavioral adjustment, gender identity, learning and grade point averages. Where research differences have been found, they have sometimes favored same-sex parents.

For example, adolescents with same-sex parents reported feeling more connected at school. Another study reported that children in gay and lesbian households are more likely to talk about emotionally difficult topics, and they are often more resilient, compassionate and tolerant. The same concerns that face many heterosexual parents when they are deciding to have children also face same-sex parents including time, money, and responsibilities of parenthood. Likewise, many of the parenting tasks faced by same-sex parents are similar to those faced by heterosexual parents, such as providing appropriate structure for children, while also being warm and accepting, setting limits, teaching open and honest communication, healthy conflict resolution, and monitoring of child’s peer network and extracurricular activities. Some differences may include adapting to different types of family forms, the impact of social stigma on the family, and dealing with extended family members who may not be supportive of same-sex parenting.

 

 

One of the biggest challenges facing same-sex parented families is that they must live in a culture that supports heterosexist and homophobic attitudes and beliefs, which can affect these families in a variety of ways. A second complication is that these families are usually part of a blended family and include children from previous heterosexual marriages. Some of these families may deal with disagreement from other family members about the authenticity and validity of their family patterns. Lack of support from a previous heterosexual partner or the other biological parent can cause major conflict and distress within the family system. Today, there are many therapists available who specialize in gay and lesbian issues and provide a safe, nonjudgmental and understanding environment for the family. Frequently, gay and lesbian parented families will seek therapeutic help for guidance, support, and recognition that they may not be receiving from the broader social arena. Major issues affecting same-sex parented families that are often addressed in therapy:

--Lesbian and gay parented families may have concerns about discrimination in parenting and custody arrangements. A parent’s minority sexual orientation and/or gender identity status may be brought up in custody disputes as a reason to restrict or deny custody by the children’s other parent and/or by the courts.
 


 

--The many co-parenting and blended family complexities present for heterosexual parents can also be present for same-sex parents with the additional complexities of discrimination, stereotypes, and assumptions.

 

--Relationships and problems with non-biological parent figures are common among lesbian and gay parented families simply due to the biological complexities involved with conceiving children when parents are the same sex.

 

--In same-sex relationships, it is common for extended family to acknowledge intimate relationships differently from heterosexual relationships; this discriminatory treatment can be confounded by parenting relationships as well. Extended family may see parenting as a necessary step in validating a relationship for same-sex couples or they may view parenting with similar biased and discriminatory views, even denying one parent’s relationship to the children.

 


 

--Explaining relationship status and family make-up to school professionals, medical professionals, children’s friends/parents, as well as explaining relationship status and family make-up to children, can be uniquely complex for same-sex parents. Though many family relationships may be complex, explaining family relationships is uniquely complex for lesbian and gay parented families because of the lack of societal norms and relevant examples in media, stereotyped notions about such relationships that are common, and the fear of discrimination faced by these families.
 

--Competent parenting may be influenced by gay and lesbian parents’ ability to accept and acknowledge their identity and how they are able to negotiate living in a heterosexist, homophobic, or otherwise discriminatory society, while rearing their children in a family unit that is not socially sanctioned. Therapists acknowledge the prevalence both of homophobia that is experienced by the family as a result of the actions of others, as well as the existence of internalized homophobia and how this may impact families. Internalized homophobia is defined as a set of negative attitudes and affects toward homosexuality in other persons and toward homosexual features in oneself. Therapists will help illustrate to the family how homophobia could be impacting them. Both internalized homophobia and experiences of outside discrimination may mean that families need more time in therapy to build rapport with the therapist and to feel comfortable disclosing personal and family-related concerns.
 

[Source: AAMFT, Deanna Linville PhD, Maya O’Neil MS]

 


 

Advocates for Youth

Brief History of LGBTQ Parenting

Singer Brandi Carlile: Raising Children as an LGBTQ Mom

Gay Parents: Gabriel and Dylan's Story

World's Largest Study of LGBTQ Parents

Steve and Rob: Two Dads Adopt Six Siblings

The Berretts: Questions for an LGBTQ Family

Straight Kid Talks About Her Gay Parents

Gay Foster Parents

Kristi and Theresa: Lesbian Parents

Talking With Grown Kids of Gay Parents

Info: LGBTQ Adoption

Difficult Job: Raising Two Black Boys as a Lesbian Couple

My Two Mums: Myths of Gay Adoption

LGBTQ Single Parent

 

Growing up With Two Moms

 

My moms have been together for 28 years but married for only four. In 2015, we were in Orlando, Florida, on a trip as a family at Walt Disney World Resort. My parents decided that, while we were in Florida, we needed to go to the courthouse since gay marriage was legal in Florida. One morning, we made our way to the courthouse, and they got married in a small room lined with empty, plastic white wedding chairs and an arch at the end.

It was only me, my sister and my moms in the room with the government official. It was a bit of an uneventful wedding, although some relatives on my birth mom’s side of the family sent us flowers. Really, it did not need to be a huge elaborate wedding, because, much like many other older gay couples, they had already been together for years by then. They had already established a household and brought up a family. They just needed a piece of paper to prove that, in the law’s eyes, we were all a family. They got that piece of paper on June 16, 2015, hilariously only 11 days before the same-sex marriage legislation was passed nationwide.

 



As a kid, it’s hard to understand when things so close to you are different and unorthodox to others. My family is all I knew. My parents loved me and loved each other. It seemed normal to me, I did not have society telling me it was weird and, even more so, that it was something to hide from people in fear they won’t accept my family. My family. Me, my little sister, and my two moms.

I still remember when my moms sat my sister Megan and me down and defined the word “lesbian.” My sister was probably 3 or 4 and I was maybe 7. Looking back, I believe they waited as long as possible to define this word for us. They told us that — that our family was different. They warned we should not go around proudly talking about our moms because some people might not understand and accept our family. It had not occurred to me that my family was different in a way that could be perceived as bad to the world.

My moms turned into “my parents,” or “my mom” singular when I talked about one or both of them. My close friends who knew I had two moms would ask which one I was talking about, and I would clarify my birth mom or “Eema,” which is the Hebrew word for mom. To clarify, we are not Jewish — my moms just wanted to come up with a way to distinguish them that would be easy for even a baby to say.

 



It took me a while to admit to the people I knew that I had two moms. I usually waited until the information needed to present itself, like if they were going to come over to my house. Otherwise, I kept it hidden. I believe this hesitation came from my moms.

They often do not tell people around them about having a wife. My mom, my birth mom, has barely told anyone at her work. They are part of a LGBTQ generation that pushed the idea that they need to be more secretive in order to fit in and live their lives unbothered without worrying about being judged for loving someone out of the heteronormative mold. I have found it is especially important to tread lightly in the South, and while we live in Nashville, which is decently progressive, there are still a lot of undertones of discrimination in the older generations.

The handful of people I told have accepted my moms and my family. They often found that part of my life to be strange and unique. One of my sister’s friends even went so far as to say that she wished she did not have a dad and that she too had two moms. Now, that does not mean all of these people support the idea of LGBTQ marriage. I had a friend tell me, “Of course I support your family — I just don’t support LGBTQ in general.” But how could someone accept my family but not accept the millions of others just like us? Between 2 to 3.7 million children have an LGBTQ parent, 200,000 of which are raised by a same-sex couple, according to a 2015 journal article that appeared in “The Future of Children,” a journal published by Princeton University.

 



Growing up with two moms puts an interesting twist on the perspective of a young kid. Society emphasizes heteronormativity, especially through the lack of LGBTQ representation on platforms like entertainment and media, but having two role models who break the mold from birth counterbalances that in a way. I grew up questioning my sexuality constantly, wondering if I would end up liking men, like the societal norm, or women, like my moms. I did not fear that they would not accept me if I were “different” because they were different. It was freeing, almost, to be able to navigate my sexuality that way, and looking back, it was very rare. I found that I was heterosexual, but that was much more so by choice after contemplation than as a default.

My sister and I essentially look like twins and get called that consistently even though we are three years apart in age. Nevertheless, the second people find out we have two moms, they wonder if we are related, which is hilarious since we look the same. Megan and I are fully related, born of the same mom and the same anonymous donor. She and I have grown up together and grown closer over time.

Megan and I bond over little quirks in our family, such as what I like to call “getting mommed times two.” Moms are known for always asking if you did things like doing chores or your homework to the point of nagging sometimes. Imagine that amount of “momming” but coming from two different people. It is only double the amount of “momming” at most, but sometimes it feels like exponentially more. That being said, I know it’s because they care about me, so I am thankful for it, even if I respond with “Eema already told me that. Four times.”

 


My parents did not go to Pride until last summer. Honestly, I think they spent so much time trying to normalize that side of themselves that they isolated themselves for the most part from the LGBTQ community. It took me and Megan pushing them for them to finally go. I think they liked it pretty well. I believe they were still stuck in the mindset that many people do not support the LGBTQ community, but when they went to Pride, their perception shaped into something new and more colorful. So many people were there to support the idea that a family like mine can exist. That is something beautiful. My parents told me they saw that widespread and diverse support, and it made them feel connected the LGBTQ community and the overall movement more. I am glad they had that experience, even if it took so long for them to get there.

My parents’ story is pretty normal. Yet it is, at the same time, inspiring. I hope young LGBTQ people read this story and realize it is possible to be successful, develop a household and start a family no matter your sexuality. My parents are strong, powerful women who decided to live truthfully to themselves, even if it was out of the ordinary and scary. Do not think that you don’t have the same rights. There are obstacles in every journey — my moms have dealt with plenty. But they did not let those roadblocks stop them. They showed the people around them that a gay household can be normal and everlasting. And that, I think, is amazing.

[Source: Nicole Christensen, October 2019]

 

 

Growing up With Two Moms
Having two Dads: What It's really Like
Gender Roles and Growing Up With Two Moms
Two Dads, Four Kids
Having Two Mothers: What People Need to Understand
 

Two Moms or Two Dads

 

Can LGBTQ parents raise kids?  Sometimes people are concerned that children being raised by a gay parent will need extra emotional support or face unique social stressors. Current research shows that children with gay and lesbian parents do not differ from children with heterosexual parents in their emotional development or in their relationships with peers and adults. It is important for parents to understand that it is the quality of the parent/child relationship and not the parent’s sexual orientation that has an effect on a child’s development.

 

 

Research has shown that in contrast to common beliefs, children of lesbian, gay, or transgender parents:

--Are not more likely to be gay than children with heterosexual parents.

--Are not more likely to be sexually abused.

--Do not show differences in whether they think of themselves as male or female (gender identity).

--Do not show differences in their male and female behaviors (gender role behavior).

 

Stories of Gay Dads and Their Foster Families

Straight Kid Talks About Her Gay Parents

Huff Post: Teased for Having Two Mommies

Gay Parents: Gabriel and Dylan's Story

Short Film: Normal

Unlikely Hero: Father Comes Out to Kids on Father's Day

Info: LGBTQ Families

New Book: Ultimate Guide for Gay Dads

Ron and Greg: Story of Two Gay Dads

Tess and Nikina: Story of Two Lesbian Moms

 

Although research shows that children with gay and lesbian parents are as well adjusted as children with heterosexual parents, they can face some additional challenges. Some LGBTQ families face discrimination in their communities and children may be teased or bullied by peers.

 

 

Parents can help their children cope with these pressures in the following ways:

--Prepare your child to handle questions and comments about their background or family.

--Allow for open communication and discussions that are appropriate to your child’s age and level of maturity.

--Help your child come up with and practice appropriate responses to teasing or mean remarks.

--Use books, Web sites and movies that show children in LGBTQ families.

--Consider having a support network for your child (For example, having your child meet other children with gay parents.)

--Consider living in a community where diversity is more accepted.

 

 

LGBTQ Parents Raising Straight Kids

 

Is there a negative impact of growing up in a home with gay parents? Luckily, this is an area of psychology in which the research is truly conclusive: children have just as much chance to thrive with gay parents as with straight parents. A new study published this fall in the journal Developmental Psychology reaffirms this conclusion, and should serve as reassuring evidence that validates the experience of tens of thousands of gay and lesbian parents raising children in America.

The study followed more than 100 families, all of whom adopted children in infancy from the same set of private agencies in the US. All of the families were two-parent families at the time of the adoption. Approximately half of the families were headed by opposite-sex parents and half were headed by same-sex parents (including both lesbian couples and gay male couples). The groups of straight and gay parents were well-matched to one another on demographic variables including parental age, race, employment status, and highest level of education obtained. All of the couples adopted infants who were not biologically related to either member of the couple.

 

Gays With Kids

Family Equality Council

Brief History of LGBTQ Parenting

Gay Parents: Anthony and Bryon's Story

AAMFT: Same-Sex Parents and Their Children

Rainbow Babies

Steve and Rob: Two Dads Adopt Six Siblings

Children of Queer Parents Don't Have it Easy

Info: LGBTQ Adoption

Greg and Paul: Two Dads Foster Adopt

Lesbian Moms: How We Met

Me and My Gay Parents

 

 

Family Equality: Brief History of LGBTQ Parenting

 

Custody and Adoption
 

We first hear of out LGBTQ parents around the time of World War II, mostly in the context of cases that denied them child custody after divorce from different-sex, cisgender spouses. Starting in the 1970s, however, a few state courts upheld custody rights for transgender, gay, and lesbian parents, though some still required that they not live with a partner or engage in “homosexual activities.”

In the 1960s and 70s, as the nascent LGBTQ rights movement buoyed the community, out LGBTQ people also began starting families. Bill Jones, a gay man, in 1968 became the first single father to adopt a child in California and one of the first nationally—although, as he told NPR in 2015, he was obliquely advised by a social worker not to mention that he was gay. A decade later, New York became the first state not to reject adoption applicants solely because of “homosexuality.” A gay couple in California in 1979 became the first in the country to jointly adopt a child.

 



It wasn’t until 1997, however, that New Jersey became the first state to allow same-sex couples to adopt jointly statewide, and not until 2010 did the last state, Florida, overturn a ban on adoption by gay men and lesbians. Several other states continued to ban unmarried couples, though, effectively stopping same-sex couples from adopting until marriage equality became federal law in 2015.

In the 1970s, too, female couples and single women increasingly began to start their families together through pregnancy. In 1982, the Sperm Bank of California opened as the first fertility clinic in the country to serve this market (although many queer people had been doing home inseminations for years before).

In 1999, Matt Rice became possibly the first transgender man to give birth in the US, although it is hard to tell how the few people in the 19th century who gave birth but lived as men would have identified. (They are our queer parental forebears, regardless.) The same year, a British gay couple had children through surrogacy in California, where a court for the first time allowed two gay dads to be on their children’s birth certificate.

In 1985, some same-sex couples first obtained what became known as “second-parent adoptions” to secure a child’s legal connection to a nonbiological parent. A decade later, the Wisconsin Supreme Court was the first state high court to say a nonbiological mother may seek visitation after separation.

 



Strength in Community
 

LGBTQ parents have long come together to support each other, as well as to contribute to the broader LGBTQ rights movement. In 1956, the pioneering San Francisco lesbian organization Daughters of Bilitis held the first known discussion groups on lesbian motherhood. The first lesbian mothers’ activist group, the Lesbian Mothers Union, formed in the same area 15 years later.

In 1974, several lesbian mothers and friends in Seattle formed the Lesbian Mothers National Defense Fund to help those in custody disputes. Similar groups for lesbian mothers and gay fathers formed in other cities. In 1977, lawyers Donna Hitchens and Roberta Achtenberg in San Francisco began the Lesbian Rights Project, which helped both lesbian moms and gay dads. It evolved into the National Center for Lesbian Rights, still helping LGBTQ parents and others across the spectrum today.

Also launched in the same era (1979) was the Gay Fathers Coalition, which ultimately became Family Equality Council, the national organization for LGBTQ parents. Out of this, too, came a program by and for children of LGBTQ parents, which in 1999 spun off to become COLAGE.

By March 1990, lesbian and gay parents had become visible enough for Newsweek to coin a term, reporting that “a new generation of gay parents has produced the first-ever ‘gayby boom.’”

 



Seeing Ourselves, Teaching Others
 

Depictions of LGBTQ parents in media also go back over 40 years. ABC’s That Certain Summer (1972), about a gay dad who comes out to his teen son, was the first television movie to depict a queer parent. Jane Severance’s 1979 When Megan Went Away was the first picture book in the US to show a same-sex relationship, but it was Lesléa Newman’s 1989 Heather Has Two Mommies that took off in popular culture (garnering praise from LGBTQ families and opprobrium from conservatives), perhaps because Heather shows a happy, intact two-mom family. Michael Willhoite’s Daddy’s Roommate (1990) was the first children’s book with a gay dad. The first with a clearly transgender character, Marcus Ewert’s 10,000 Dresses, didn’t come until 2008.

Marriage Rites and Parental Rights
 

In recent decades, marriage equality opponents argued that children needed both a mother and a father. Marriage equality, they claimed, would also require that “homosexuality” be taught in schools. That fear played a large part in the passage of Proposition 8, California’s 2008 marriage equality ban. LGBTQ advocates flipped this around, however, through visibility, legitimate social science research, and court briefs that quoted young people raised by same-sex couples. The US Supreme Court then cited children’s well-being as a key argument in favor of marriage equality in its 2013 and 2015 rulings. It took another Supreme Court case, however (Pavan v. Smith), to affirm in June 2017 that marriage equality means both parents in a married, same-sex couple have the right to be on their children’s birth certificates and be legally recognized as parents.

Marriage equality also allowed same-sex couples to adopt in several states that had not previously allowed unmarried couples to do so—although several states have now implemented “religious freedom” laws that allow child care agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people and others in adoption and foster care.

 



Looking Back to Look Ahead
 

There is much more to be written about the history of LGBTQ parents, both as a movement and in terms of our contributions as individuals. This goes doubly for transgender parents, about whom much less has been written, and bisexual parents, many of whom were likely misidentified as gay or lesbian earlier if they were in same-sex relationships, or overlooked if they were not. We also need more studies that look at queer parenting history through the lens of particular racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds.

Delving further back, too, and around the world, we find many parents under the queer umbrella—from the poet Sappho in 600 BCE to writers Oscar Wilde and Vita Sackville-West, comedian Jackie “Moms” Mabley, poet Lord Byron, and jazz musician Billy Tipton. Did their queerness inform their relationships with their children? Did being a parent impact how they expressed their queer identities? And how can we write books about them for our children that celebrate both? I hope you’ll ponder these questions as we reflect on our past this month—and as we look to the future.

[Source: Dana Rudolph, Very Brief History of LGBTQ Parenting, October 2017]

 

 

Kids Can Thrive with Gay Parents

Difficult Job: Raising Two Black Boys as a Lesbian Couple

New Report: Gay Dads Make Better Parents

Singer Brandi Carlile: Raising Children as an LGBTQ Mom

Kristi and Theresa: Lesbian Parents

AAMFT: Same-Sex Parents and Their Children

Advocate: What I've Learned From Being a Gay Dad

Straight Daughter Responds to Questions About Her Lesbian Moms

Children Raised by Same Sex Parents at No Disadvantage

Gay Parents: Gabriel and Dylan's Story

Advocate: Study on Lesbian Moms Shows Kids Are Alright

Gays With Kids: Mitch and Jake’s Adoption Journey

PBS Video: Olivia Has Two Moms

Lesbian Couple With Two Kids: Questions for an LGBTQ Family

Terrell and Jarius: Young Black Gay Couple With Two Babies

Straight Kid Talks About Her Gay Parents

Conservatives Outraged: Gay Couple on Cover of Parents Magazine

Brief History of LGBTQ Parenting

Gay Parents: Anthony and Bryon's Story

No Differences Between Children of Same-Sex and Opposite-Sex Parents

Stories of Gay Dads and Their Foster Families

Children of Gay Parents Speak for Themselves
Gay Dads Share Personal Stories


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