No. 92; August 2011
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Millions of children in the United States have lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (LGBT) parents. Some children of LGBT parents were conceived in heterosexual marriages or relationships. An increasing number of LGBT parents have conceived children and/or raised them from birth, either as single parents or in ongoing committed relationships. This can occur through adoption, alternative insemination, surrogate or foster parenting. A small number of states currently have laws supportive of LGBT couple adoption.
What effect does having LGBT parents have on children?
Sometimes people are concerned that children being raised by a gay parent will need extra emotional support or face unique social stressors.Current research shows that children with gay and lesbian parents do not differ from children with heterosexual parents in their emotional development or in their relationships with peers and adults. It is important for parents to understand that it is the the quality of the parent/child relationship and not the parent’s sexual orientation that has an effect on a child’s development. Research has shown that in contrast to common beliefs, children of lesbian, gay, or transgender parents:
- Are not more likely to be gay than children with heterosexual parents.
- Are not more likely to be sexually abused.
- Do not show differences in whether they think of themselves as male or female (gender identity).
- Do not show differences in their male and female behaviors (gender role behavior).
Raising children in a LGBT household
Although research shows that children with gay and lesbian parents are as well adjusted as children with heterosexual parents, they can face some additional challenges. Some LGBT families face discrimination in their communities and children may be teased or bullied by peers. Parents can help their children cope with these pressures in the following ways:
- Prepare your child to handle questions and comments about their background or family.
- Allow for open communication and discussions that are appropriate to your child’s age and level of maturity.
- Help your child come up with and practice appropriate responses to teasing or mean remarks.
- Use books, Web sites and movies that show children in LGBT families.
- Consider having a support network for your child (For example, having your child meet other children with gay parents.)
- Consider living in a community where diversity is more accepted.
Like all children, most children with LGBT parents will have both good and bad times. They are not more likely than children of heterosexual parents to develop emotional or behavioral problems. If LGBT parents have questions or concerns about their child, they should consider a consultation with a qualified mental health professional.
For additional information see Facts for Families:
#1 Children and Divorce
#15 The Adopted Child
#24 When to Seek Help
#27 Stepfamily Problems
#62 Talking to Your Kids About Sex
#63 Gay and Lesbian Teens
#64 Foster Care
AACAP Policy Statement–“Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Parents”
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