Gay and Lesbian Adoptive Parents: Issues and Concerns

Gay and Lesbian Adoptive Parents

Once a gay or lesbian couple successfully adopts a child, they will often still face a number of challenges that do not come up for straight parents.  Same-sex marriage and adoption rights are a recent development and the law is still catching up and rapidly changing.  Here are some common issues gay and lesbian couples face when they are adopting.

Explaining discrimination

The sad truth is that kids of same-sex couples will sometimes be bullied at school.  Other parents can be just as bad.  The public option has shifted rapidly in favor of same-sex marriage, but as of 2017 public polling still found 34% of the population opposed to recognizing same-sex marriage.  

This minority opposing same-sex marriage can be very vocal, and often can be discriminatory.  Some parents may not want their children to go on a field trip with a gay parent chaperoning, for example.  Kids may use derogatory terms to talk about same-sex relationships.  Same-sex couples need to think about how they will address this type of discrimination with their children.

Discrimination against gay and lesbian people is also still legal in most states.  It can be hard for a child to understand why, for example, it is strictly illegal to discriminate against a black person but it is legal to discriminate against a gay person.

Heterosexual sex education  

According to recent research, only s 5% of public school health classes have a positive representation of same-sex relationships, and only 12% covered the topic at all.  Only 12 states require a discussion of sexual orientation, and on the other hand, seven states prohibit any lessons that could be seen as encouraging homosexuality.  

As a result, many kids are not given a progressive view of sexual orientation.  Probably more importantly, many students fail to learn sexual health information from a trusted source.  This can make it more likely that gay and lesbian children will engage in risky behavior. Parents often have to step up to take the lead this uncomfortable conversation.

Impacts on the child

Supporters of “traditional” heterosexual marriage have long opposed adoption by same-sex couples because they say being raised by homosexuals can negatively impact a child.  For example, many people think that children raised by same-sex parents are more likely to be gay themselves.  According to the American Psychological Association, there is just no evidence for that claim.  It is hard to prove one way or another, though.  

Opponents of same-sex marriage also raise all sorts of concerns about the negative impacts of being raised by gay or lesbian parents.  The evidence is a bit mixed on some of these issues.

Opponents of same-sex parents often point to a New Family Structures Study that found that children of gay parents fared worse than children raised by straight parents.  For example, they suffered lower levels of happiness, higher levels of depression, had poor educational attainment, were at risk for molestation, and were more likely to be unfaithful in relationships.  This study has been criticized as inaccurate and most other studies show no significant differences attributable to gay or straight parents.  


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