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Lgbt parenting articles

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It is important to recognize that although many similarities exist, LGBT parented families also differ from heterosexually parented families. The conventional notion of a family presumes there will be two parents, one of each gender, that they will share a loving relationship and live under one roof, that they will both be biologically related to the children they raise, and that they will be recognized legally as a family. This mom-and-dad nuclear family is the baseline model in Western culture against which all other models of family are measured, and it is assumed by most to be the optimal family environment for child development; in comparison, all other types of families are viewed as deficient in some way (Mallon, 2004).

Lgbt parenting articles

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Some LGBT people choose to parent as a couple and some parent as single persons. The stresses faced by single parents will have more to do with single parenting than with their sexuality. Those individuals who parent as a couple will also face challenges to their status as a couple or a family. LGBT people who choose to create families have the advantage of redefining and reinventing their own meaning of family and parenting, precisely because they exist outside of the traditionally defined “family.” They have the unique opportunity to break out of preconceived gender roles and be a new kind of parent to a child. Most LGBT people who parent are not invested in raising LGBT children, as suggested by some, but in raising children who will be authentic, happy, and self-confident and have the ability to support themselves regardless of their expression of gender or sexual orientation.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals and couples who wish to parent must give more careful consideration to how they will become parents and, at the outset, must be open to different ways of becoming a family and parenting children. Although many LGBT individuals and couples become parents through the birth of a child, they have also become parents through a number of additional avenues:

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Although in recent years they have received greater visibility, LGBT people are frequently socialized to hide their sexual orientation, and therefore, many still form part of an invisible population. According to an Urban Institute Report (Smith & Gates, 2001), the 2000 U.S. Census Bureau figures for same-sex unmarried partner households provide researchers and policy makers with a wealth of information about LGBT-headed families. Revised estimates from the 2010 Census (U.S. Census Bureau, 2011) indicate that there were 131,729 same-sex married-couple households and 514,735 same-sex unmarried partner households in the United States. The results of the 2010 Census revised estimates are closer to the results of the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS) for same-sex married and unmarried partners. The 2010 ACS estimated same-sex married couples at 152,335 and same-sex unmarried partners at 440,989 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010).
According to a Williams Institute survey conducted in April 2011, approximately 3.5% of American adults identify themselves as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, whereas 0.3% are transgender—approximately 11.7 million Americans (Gates, 2011a). However, a substantially higher percentage acknowledges having same-sex attraction without identifying as LGBT. This finding makes it difficult to accurately record the demographics of LGBT people in the United States.

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Interestingly, Gates (2011b) points out in his analysis that the proportion of same-sex couples raising children has begun to decline. In the 2000 Census, more than 17% of same-sex couples were raising children. That proportion peaked at 19% in 2006 and had declined to 16% in 2009. Despite the decline, the number of same-sex couples raising children is still much higher in the second decade of the 21st century than 10 years ago because many more couples are reporting themselves in Census Bureau data. In 2000, the Census reported about 63,000 LGBT couples raising children. In 2012, the figure was greater than 110,000.

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According to analysis by Gates (2011b), demographic data indicate substantial diversity among same-sex couples with children. These families live throughout the country: of same-sex couples by region, 26% in the South, 24% in New England, and 21% in the Pacific states are raising children. Childrearing is substantially higher among racial/ethnic minorities; African Americans in particular are 2.4 times more likely than their White counterparts to be raising children. Further, among individuals in same-sex couples who did not finish high school, 43% are raising children and 20% of children raised by same-sex couples live in poverty. These data provide policy makers at every level of government with compelling arguments for why they must fulfill the policy needs of LGBT families, who live in nearly every corner of every county in America. The geographical diversity of LGBT families is striking. From big cities to small farming towns, from the Deep South to the Pacific Northwest, LGBT families are part of every American landscape. These facts will help us dispel stereotypes and present a fuller, more accurate picture of the LGBT family in America.

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It is inaccurate to talk about the LGBT community as if it is uniform or easily identifiable. As with all communities, the LGBT community is diverse in terms of how individuals wish to define themselves and live their lives. LGBT individuals are as diverse as any other subgroup of the general population, and they are part of every race, culture, ethnic group, religious group, socioeconomic affiliation, and family in the United States in the early 21st century (Mallon, 2006).
According to U.S. census data, an estimated 270,313 American children were living in households headed by same-sex couples in 2005, and nearly twice that number had a single lesbian or gay parent. Since the 1990s, a quiet revolution has been blooming in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. More and more lesbians and gay men from all walks of life are becoming parents. LGBT people become parents for some of the same reasons that heterosexual people do. Some pursue parenting as single people and others seek to create a family as a couple; still other LGBT people became parents in a heterosexual relationship. Although there are many common themes between LGBT parenting and heterosexual parenting, there are also some unique features. Unlike their heterosexual counterparts, who couple, get pregnant, and give birth, most LGBT individuals and couples who wish to parent must consider many other variables in deciding whether to become parents because the birth option is not the only option.

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Currently, 397,122 children and youth live in foster care in the United States and more than 101,666 foster children await adoption (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2012). States must recruit parents who are interested and able to foster and adopt children. Although the majority of states no longer officially deem lesbians and gay men unfit to rear a child (only two states Mississippi and Nebraska currently restrict LGBT individuals or couples from adopting), each state decides independently who can adopt, and legislators, more for political reasons than for reasons having to do with child well-being, continue to introduce bills barring adoptions and foster parenting by LGBT people to state legislatures every year (Tavernise, 2011).

Practice Implications


It is important to recognize that although many similarities exist, LGBT parented families also differ from heterosexually parented families. The conventional notion of a family presumes there will be two parents, one of each gender, that they will share a loving relationship and live under one roof, that they will both be biologically related to the children they raise, and that they will be recognized legally as a family. This mom-and-dad nuclear family is the baseline model in Western culture against which all other models of family are measured, and it is assumed by most to be the optimal family environment for child development; in comparison, all other types of families are viewed as deficient in some way (Mallon, 2004).

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