Resource List on Support of LGBT Parenting, 2012
Center for Women’s & Gender Studies
Gender & Sexuality Center
The University of Texas at Austin
Staff at the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies and the Gender and Sexuality Center at The University of Texas at Austin compiled this resource list. We compiled this brief list to help readers analyze Dr. Regnerus’s work on children of parents who have same-sex relationships in the context of prior research and evidence about LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) parenting.* The bulk of the research and evidence suggests, and we believe, that children of LGBT parents are at no disadvantage compared to children of heterosexual parents. We encourage students, scholars, LGBT people thinking of becoming parents, and children of LGBT parents to use the resources available in the UT-Austin community and beyond.
We also see critiques of non-traditional families as interweaving systems of oppression. Arguments that stability only exists within a heterosexual nuclear family are arguments against a range of family formations including single-parent families, unmarried heterosexual families, extended families, and blended and chosen families. Writer and activist Kenyon Farrow points out in Colorlines that, while same-sex marriage was already outlawed in North Carolina, Amendment 1, the constitutional amendment passed in that state in March 2012, bans “recognition of any form of relationship that is not a legally married heterosexual couple.”** North Carolina grassroots organizers committed to racial, gender, and sexuality justice created a coalition opposing Amendment 1 called the Protect NC Families Coalition. This coalition recognizes the damage of prioritizing (any kind of) marriage as the only valued family unit and names as well as opposes the interrelated work of racist and homophobic policymaking. Family formation in the U.S. has long been shaped and limited by racialized and gendered policies including enslavement, immigration restriction based on nationality or ethnicity, displacement of indigenous peoples, boarding schools for indigenous peoples, and family requirements for welfare funding. As a result, people of color, working class people, and LGBT people (not mutually exclusive identities) both share and have struggled to maintain beneficial alternative family structures. A critique of LGBT families is also necessarily related to racialization and economic class. Recently in North Carolina and elsewhere, critiques of non-traditional families have generated alliances among people of color, LGBT activists, white antiracist allies, economic justice advocates, and those whose identities blur these boundaries. These coalitions point us back to family scholars like Dana Berkowitz who reminds us, “all our families are queer; lesbian and gay families simply show us this with added intensity.”***
I. Selected Narratives from Children with LGBT Parents
II. Selected Research Studies on LGBT Parents
III. Selected Bibliographies & Resource Lists
IV. Selected Organizations of and for Children of LGBT Families
Tina Fakhrid-Deen with COLAGE. Let’s Get This Straight: The Ultimate Handbook for Youth with LGBTQ Parents. Berkeley: Seal Press/Perseus, 2010.
A member of COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere), Tina Fakhrid-Deen worked with the group to interview over forty other members and compile their stories. In this book as well as in her work as a high school teacher, Fakhrid-Deen seeks to connect with other children of LGBTQ parents to provide a sense of community connection. Ultimately, she invites other children of LGBTQ parents to join the conversations. “There are too many ‘family’ groups, religious leaders, and lawmakers telling us who our families are and debating about how we’ll ‘turn out,’” Fakhrid-Deen emphasizes. “It’s impossible to predict, however, how any given person who grows up with an LGBTQ parent will turn out because each of our experiences is different. With this book, I’m proposing that it’s time we start talking about our families out loud so that others won’t steal our voices or make up imaginary outcomes.”
Abigail Garner. Families Like Mine: Children of Gay Parents Tell It like It Is. New York: Harper Collins, 2004.
Written by a child with gay parents as well as straight parents, Families Like Mine draws on over fifty interviews Abigail Garner conducted with adult children (in their twenties-to-thirties) of LGBT parents. As children, the narrators grew up with various family structures, and here they talk about issues including “coming out, divorce, school, extended family, AIDS,” and their own sexual orientation. Garner emphasizes that these complexities are shared among all families: “since sexual orientation is the issue that puts our families under scrutiny in the first place, it’s nearly impossible to acknowledge those other complexities without risking exploitation by opponents to gay parenting. Our families currently lack the ‘luxury’ to be as openly complicated, confusing, or dysfunctional as straight families.”
Andrew R. Gottlieb. Sons Talk about Their Gay Fathers: Life Curves. New York: Harrington Park Press/Haworth Press, 2003.
Gottlieb shapes this collection of stories with his experience in counseling and studying gay fathers. He focuses on men in heterosexual marriages who come out as gay. In these situations, Gottlieb points out, “the majority of couples divorce after a spouse comes out and some fathers disclose after divorcing.” This means that many children of lesbian and gay parents are similar to any child dealing with divorce: “the children in these families also face problems typically experienced by all children of divorce, such as the division of loyalties and fear of abandonment. Although being a gay parent is yet another difference for the couple to negotiate, it is not the primary concern of most children.” Seeing a unique experience for sons of gay fathers, Gottlieb offers this collection to audiences of counselors and social service workers to better understand and support sons of gay fathers, particularly of those fathers just coming out.
Noelle Howey and Ellen Samuels, Editors. Out of the Ordinary: Essays on Growing Up with Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Parents. New York: Stonewall Inn Editions/St. Martin’s Press, 2000.
Working in a feminist bookstore, Ellen Samuels talked with many folks coming in to ask for a book for adult children of LGBT parents. After researching the available options, she realized that her voice and those of others like her would create a sense of community for those adult children. Howey and Samuels point out that LGBT families are part of a vibrant diversity of family structures: “We sought out essays that revealed the amazing diversity of experience among people with gay, lesbian, and transgender parents, a diversity we believe is reflected in the multiple family structures of today’s society and includes gay and straight single parents, grandparents raising grandchildren, gay couples, and unmarried heterosexual couples.”
Judith E. Snow. How It Feels to Have a Gay or Lesbian Parent: A Book by Kids for Kids of All Ages. New York: Harrington Park Press/Haworth Press, 2004. Felicia Park-Rogers, Executive Director of COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere), writes the introduction to this book. She cautions that it is not GLBT parents who endanger families, but hostility and misunderstanding: “What does affect our families negatively is homophobia. It is not good for children to live in a closet, to be shamed by peers or teachers, to be shunned by extended family members, or to be treated unjustly in the eyes of the law. Discriminatory public policy such as the ability to fire parents from their jobs because they are gay, deny them custody of their children because they are transgender, or deny moms the right to marry and therefore both be legally recognized parents does hurt families.” Park-Rogers urges readers to use the book to make change: “It is critical that each and every person in our society work to right these wrongs.” Snow offers this book in particular to children of lesbian and gay parents and particularly to children “who endure the coexisting issues of divorce and discrimination/homophobia.”
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Nanette K. Gartrell, Henny M. W. Bos, and Naomi G. Goldberg. “Adolescents of the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Sexual Orientation, Sexual Behavior, and Sexual Risk Exposure.” Archives of Sexual Behavior 40.6 (2011): 1199-1209.
The authors find that children of lesbian families are at a lower risk of sexual abuse than their peers in heterosexual families: “adolescents reared in lesbian families are less likely than their peers to be victimized by a parent or other caregiver.” In fact, “there were no reports of physical or sexual victimization by a parent or other caregiver.” The study also finds that daughters of lesbian parents “are more likely to engage in same-sex behavior and to identify as bisexual.” Creators of the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study describe it as “the largest, longest-running prospective investigation of American lesbian mothers and their children.” Lesbian families have participated in the study since 1986, and 93% of the original families are still participating. Gartrell, Bos, and Goldberg offer this article as one of a series of analyses of the Study.
Loes van Gelderen, Henny M. W. Bos, Nanette Gartrell, Jo Hermanns, Elen C. Perrin. “Quality of Life of Adolescents Raised from Birth by Lesbian Mothers: The U.S. National Longitudinal Family Study.” Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics 33.1 (January 2012): 1-7.
In a comparison between adolescents raised in lesbian-mother families with adolescents raised by heterosexual parents, the quality of life of both sets of adolescents measured comparably to their counterparts. The authors find, “Adolescent offspring in planned lesbian families do not show differences in QoL [quality of life] when compared with a matched group of adolescents reared in heterosexual families.” This report is also a study of the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study.
Judith Stacey and Timothy J. Biblarz. “(How) Does the Sexual Orientation of Parents Matter?” American Sociological Review66.2 (April 2001): 159-183.
As Stacey and Biblarz point out, “most research in psychology concludes that there are no differences in developmental outcomes between children raised by lesbigay parents and those raised by heterosexual parents.” Why, then, do critics continue to claim that children of LGB parents experience a higher rate of negative outcomes? This study from Stacey and Biblarz offers a detailed review of how “heterosexism has hampered intellectual progress in the field.” Ultimately, they detail and propose a “less defensive, more sociologically informed analytic framework.”
Jennifer L. Wainright, Stephen T. Russell, and Charlotte J. Patterson. “Psychosocial Adjustment and School Outcomes of Adolescents with Same-Sex Parents.” Child Development 75.6 (November-December 2004): 1886-1898.
This comparison of lesbian and gay parents with heterosexual parents found that sexual orientation of parents did not determine children’s adjustment, school success, and sexual behavior. The authors studied “44 12- to 18-year-old adolescents parented by same-sex couples and 44 same-aged adolescents parented by opposite-sex couples, matched on demographic characteristics and drawn from a national sample.” The study showed: “on measures of psychosocial adjustment and school outcomes, adolescents were functioning well, and their adjustment was not generally associated with family type.” The closer the relationship between children and parents of any sexual orientation, the better the children’s school adjustment.
Marjorie G. Welsh. “Growing Up in a Same-Sex Parented Family: The Adolescent Voice of Experience.” Journal of GLBT Family Studies 7.1/2 (January-April 2011): 49-71.
Welsh argues that children of lesbian and gay parents are more often researched than heard. To repair this erasure, She interviewed fourteen adolescents between thirteen and eighteen years old. Through her findings she invites readers to value the differences between straight and lesbian and gay families. Welsh summarizes that participants “described numerous ways in which their parents’ sexual orientation positively influenced their lives. These authentic expressions of gratitude reinforce the ways these adolescents embrace diversity and appreciate their respective families.” At the same time, she points out that every family needs particular life skills. These youth “expressed a need for acknowledgement of experience; a need for individually tailored advocacy and support systems; and a need for comprehensive education and development of social problem-solving skills for managing issues of heterosexism, homophobia, and microagressions.” She urges changes in institutional systems to understand and support lesbian and gay families.
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American Psychological Association. “Lesbian and Gay Parenting.” Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2005.
This thorough resource is a joint project of three American Psychological Association committees: the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Concerns; the Committee on Children, Youth, and Families; and the Committee on Women in Psychology. The two central parts of the resource are an overview of the research on lesbian and gay parents and their children followed by an annotated bibliography of empirical studies, legal reviews, case studies, and popular works. Charlotte J. Patterson conducts the research summary in the APA publication, and she summarizes: “there is no evidence to suggest that lesbian women or gay men are unfit to be parents or that psychosocial development among children of lesbian women or gay men is compromised relative to that among offspring of heterosexual parents. Not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents.”
Melanie L. Duncan and Kristin E. Joos for Sociologists of Women in Society. “LGBT Parents and Their Children: Resource List.” Sociologists for Women in Society. September 2011. http://web.clas.ufl.edu/users/krisj/LGBTQfamilies/resources.html
This thorough list from the Sociologists of Women in Society offers a range of resources in the categories Organizations, Major Research Articles, Books about LGBTQ Families & Parenting, Websites, Videos, Educational Curricula about Diverse Families, and a miscellaneous category which includes summer camps, publishers, and other genres of support. The organization offers this list as a starting place for “scholars wishing to study LGBT parenting issues as well as LGBT persons who are or are planning to become parents.”
Parentbooks. “Gay & Lesbian Parenting.” http://www.parentbooks.ca/Gay_&_Lesbian_Parenting.html
The organizers at Parentbooks in Toronto, Canada specialize in resources for families and children. They have created this recent list of resources for children of GLBT parents as well as for GLBT folks thinking about becoming parents or who already are parents. Here you will find children’s books as well as books for teens and adults.
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This organization identifies itself as “a national movement of children, youth, and adults with one or more lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer (LGBTQ) parent/s.” The focus of COLAGE is to both to build community among children of LGBTQ parents and to create educational initiatives which recognize varied family structures. They create a vital series of publications including Kids of Trans Resource Guide and Books for Youth and Young Adults with LGBTQ Parents . Their full list of resources includes over fifteen publications. At this writing, there is not yet a chapter in Austin, but anyone may create one.
Family Equality Council
http://www.familyequality.org/ This Boston-based organization offers resources available nation-wide to serve LGBT parents and their children. They support gatherings of children with LGBT parents and offer an “Ask the Experts” discussion forum on issues from Safe Schools to Outreach. In October 2011 they published the report All Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequalities Hurt LGBT Families ; the report offers an overview of how policies framed against LGBT people cause harm to their children.
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*A Note on Naming
Throughout this list of resources and research you will notice a difference between resources that use the term “parents in same-sex relationships” and those that use the term “LGBT parents.” Parents named by researchers as “in same-sex relationships” may or may not actively identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. This means that parents “in same-sex relationships” may be struggling with additional identity issues. Many of the resources on this list use the term LGBT parents. While lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocates often work together and can share identities, there is a distinction here. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual are terms for sexual identity while transgender is a term for gender identity. This means that parents “in same sex relationships” may or may not also identify as transgender but their gender identity is not a focus of that study. Some of the resources claiming to discuss LGBT parents thoroughly engage with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender folks, while others focus only on lesbian and gay folks.
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** Kenyon Farrow. “The Real Lesson of North Carolina’s Amendment 1.” Colorlines. 11 May 2012. Web. http://colorlines.com/archives/2012/05/north_carolina_amendment_1.html
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*** In this quote Berkowitz is also referencing Judith Stacey. Dana Berkowitz. “Theorizing Lesbian and Gay Parenting: Past, Present, and Future Scholarship.” Journal of Family Theory & Review 1 (September 2009): 117-132. 129.
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