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Working With Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Families in Adoption
Series: Bulletins for Professionals|
Child Welfare Information Gateway |
|Year Published: 2011|
Getting to Know the LGBT Community
The community of people who are LGBT is as diverse as the general public and includes all races, ethnicities, income levels, and education levels, as well as rural, suburban, and urban dwellers. Among different ethnic groups, religious traditions, and cultures, the issue of sexual orientation is viewed and addressed differently, and, as a child welfare professional, you can anticipate some variation among LGBT adoptive families. For example, LGBT families may differ in terms of the level of acceptance they experience among their families of origin, what terms and language they use to identify themselves and any partner (if applicable), and the extent to which they are honest and "out" about their own identity and relationship status.
It's important to understand that many LGBT individuals and same-sex couples may choose to share very little of their personal lives with their families of origin, professional colleagues, and neighbors due to fear of being stigmatized, rejected, or physically abused or because their own cultural norms and traditions dictate that one's personal (and sexual) life is kept private. There are also many LGBT adults who have had unconditional support from their parents, extended family and friends, and a solid network as they proceed on their journey to parenthood. Professionals can anticipate meeting LGBT individuals and couples from every walk of life, and any assumptions a professional has about who is gay, who is more likely to be "out," and how families might react will most likely be tested along the way.
Myths and misperceptions about lesbian and gay parents continue to present the greatest obstacle to adoption for LGBT adults. In recent years, however, a growing body of research on LGBT parents and their children is clear and affirming about the ability of LGBT individuals and same-sex couples to parent, and it alleviates concerns about the outcomes of children raised by LGBT parents. It is essential that professionals have access to and can draw from evidence-based information about LGBT adoptive families in making decisions in the best interests of children. Without this body of knowledge, professionals will continue to overlook the great potential of LGBT individuals and couples to be a resource for children.
A brief summary of the research shows the following:
- Children raised by LGBT parents do not differ in any key areas of adjustment or functioning (Goldberg, 2009).
- Quality of parenting and level of family functioning are not related to the sexual orientation of the parents (Erich, Leung, Kindle, & Carter, 2005).
- Adults who have been raised by LGBT parents report feeling more tolerant of all types of human diversity (Stacey & Biblarz, 2001).
- The sexual orientation of youth does not have any correlation with the sexual orientation of the families in which they were raised (Golombok & Tasker, 1996).
These are just a few findings among dozens of studies conducted with children of LGBT parents over more than three decades. In short, the research shows that children raised by LGBT parents do not experience negative effects or outcomes because of their parents' sexual orientation, and, in fact, there are positive outcomes for children raised by LGBT parents. Thus, there is no scientific basis for denying placement of children with qualified LGBT adoptive parents.
For a compilation of studies of LGBT parents and families, visit the Human Rights Campaign website.
Access more research through the Information Gateway library.
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