Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Families


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Gerald P. Mallon

Perhaps this finding helps to account for the few studies reporting that sons of lesbians play less aggressively and that children of lesbians communicate their feelings more freely, aspire to a wider range of occupations, and score higher on self-esteem. Most professionals view these differences as positive elements, but some critics of these studies have misrepresented the differences as evidence that the children suffer from gender confusion.

Health disparities among LGBT elders

Few of the young adults in this study identified themselves as gay or lesbian, but a larger minority of those with lesbian mothers did report that they were more open to exploring their sexuality and had at one time or another considered or actually had a same-sex relationship. Although most research to date on LGBT parenting is based on individuals who are biological parents, researchers looking at LGBT parenting have reached the same, unequivocal conclusions.

That is, the children of LGBT parents grow up as successfully as the children of heterosexuals. Not one study has found that the children of LGBT parents face greater social stigma. There is no evidence to support the belief that the children of LGBT parents are more likely to be abused or to suggest that the children of these parents are more likely to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender themselves.

Children will, in fact, be who they are. It is important to bear in mind that the majority of lesbian and gay persons have been raised by heterosexual parents Mallon, Social workers have a key role to play in the lives of LGBT parents. From direct practice with family systems to policy and legislative advocacy, the array of opportunities for social workers in practice with lesbian and gay parents continues to broaden. Because LGBT parents are increasingly more out and open in many geographic locations of the country, LGBT parents can no longer be viewed as an invisible population.

Although heterosexual privilege continues to dominate mainstream consciousness, assuming that all children live within the context of heterosexually headed families, most social workers will encounter lesbian- or gay-headed families at some point in their practice. The ability of LGBT parents to provide for the social and emotional health of their children is equal to that of heterosexual parents.

Implications for service delivery

Social workers must also examine their own notions of family and further learn to identify what constitutes family based on the loving bonds of responsibility that have been both intended and fulfilled, not solely on biological, legal, or conventional definitions. These strategies may include working with lesbian or gay individuals to assess their desire to become parents, working to support lesbian or gay persons who are in various stages of pursuing parenting, helping those who have already become parents to deal with the everyday reality of parenting, and assisting couples and families in more traditional couple or family therapy situations.

Policy practice is the responsibility of all social workers. Within the specialization of practice with LGBT parents, professional social workers partner with or represent the interests of persons and families who request assistance in advocating for policy or legislative changes. Such activities may include advocating on the local, state, or federal levels for changes in fiscal allocations and services, speaking with legislators or bureaucrats, gathering data for policy analyses and performing such analyses, or helping a person navigate the complex delivery system.

The most effective policy practice activities involve consumer advocates who are most knowledgeable regarding gaps in services, unmet needs, or solutions from their experience.


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It is the responsibility of social workers to identify needs, assist in procuring services, navigate the maze of services, and promote policies and services to better serve this population. Discussion and debate about parenting by LGBT persons occurs frequently among child welfare policy makers, social-service agencies, and social workers.

All need better information about LGBT parents and their children as they make individual and policy-level decisions about the lives of children with LGBT parents. Recent government surveys demonstrate that many lesbians and gay men are already raising children, and many more LGBT people would like to have children at some point. A report from the Urban Institute Gates et al.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people

Because prior research indicates that fewer than one fifth of adoption agencies attempt to recruit adoptive parents from the LGBT community, findings of the Urban Institute Report Gates et al. Donaldson Adoption Institute, ; Mallon, suggest that LGBT people comprise an underutilized pool of potential adoptive parents. Future trends in practice with LGBT parents will be most affected not only by the increasing numbers of LGBT couples who chose parenting, but also by the heightened self-awareness and development of LGBT-affirming practice approaches of social workers who work with these parents.

In addition, legislative and legal initiatives in some states seek to limit parenting opportunities for lesbians and gay men. Social workers must balance their own personal attitudes toward lesbians and gay men as parents with the reality that research suggests LGBT people do make good parents. The considerable controversy surrounding the issue of parenting by gays and lesbians seems certain to escalate in the years to come. This controversy is a critical component of the debate over whether lesbians and gay men should be permitted to marry, and it continues to divide policy makers in the United States—as well as in Canada and other countries—as they formulate laws and practices relating to workplace benefits, foster care, adoption, and an array of other important social and personal questions surrounding parenting.

Even as these discussions proliferate on the legislative and rhetorical levels, however, reality on the ground is outstripping the pace of the debate. That is, a growing number of LGBT people are becoming parents and are living as families every day, irrespective of what policy makers or practitioners do or say.

Lesbians and gay men are becoming mothers and fathers in many ways, but primarily through alternative insemination, surrogacy, and adoption.

Healthcare and the LGBT community - Wikipedia

Solid research to help inform and shape the dialog is increasing. Further research will likely assist in dispelling myths about lesbians and gay men as parents. For society, the bottom line is clear: lesbians and gay men are becoming parents in growing numbers. Many avenues exist for lesbians and gay men wishing to become parents. Although stereotypes and misconceptions still perpetuate policy, legislation, and practice, from a child-centered perspective the willingness of social-services agencies to accept LGBT adults as parents means that more children will have loving and permanent families.

There may continue to be a steep learning curve for some professional social workers engaged in practice with LGBT parents. Moving toward the development of an affirming practice with LGBT parents will require intensive continuing education. As social-work practitioners working with LGBT parents, it is essential for professionals to read the research and to analyze, interpret, and discuss the findings and practice implications for effective practice with this population. Research findings and their interpretation have enormous impact in many influential arenas, including court cases for custody and visiting rights, judges, child advocates, professionals in the health and mental-health communities, and those charged with developing and enacting legislation that guides our laws.

Barret, R. Gay fathers. Find this resource:. Biblarz, T. How does the gender of parents matter? Journal of Marriage and Family, 72 1 , 3— Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. Adoption by lesbians and gays: A national survey of adoption agency policies, practices, and attitudes. New York, NY: Author.

Description

Gartrell, N. Pediatrics , 1 : 28— Gates, G. Adoption and foster care by lesbian and gay parents in the United States. How many people are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender? As overall percentage of same-sex couples raising children declines, those adopting almost doubles—Significant diversity among LGBT families. Golombok, S. Children with lesbian parents: A community study. Developmental Psychology , 29 1 , 20— Children in lesbian and single-parent households: Psychosexual and psychiatric appraisal.

Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry , 24 4 , — Do parents influence the sexual orientation of their children? Findings from a longitudinal study of lesbian families. Developmental Psychology , 32 1 , 3— Mallon, G. Gay men choosing parenthood.


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Lesbian and gay foster and adoptive parents: Recruiting, assessing, and supporting an untapped resource for children and youth. McCarty, K. Fatherhood for gay men: An emotional and practical guide to becoming a gay dad.

McPherson, D. Gay parenting couples: Parenting arrangements, arrangement satisfaction, and relationship satisfaction. Strategies for recruiting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender foster, adoptive, and kinship families. LGBT prospective foster and adoptive families: The homestudy assessment process.

Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Families Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Families
Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Families Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Families
Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Families Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Families
Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Families Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Families
Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Families Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Families
Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Families Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Families
Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Families Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Families
Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Families Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Families
Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Families

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