Parents Speak Out: Qualitative Interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents

by Melissa Noyes August 31, 2007 A Final Report on Activities conducted at The Gay Family Foundation between September 2006 and September 2007 as part of the MCH Special Projects Course, MPH Program. School of Public Health and Health Services The George Washington University

Preceptor Mr. Duane Taylor, Esq., MPP, MCPH Chief Executive Officer 200 East Lexington St., Suite 803 Baltimore, MD 21202

INTRODUCTION This project began as an initial exploration into the existing research of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) parenting in the area of LGBT family needs. Working with the Gay Family Foundation, there was an interest in understanding how to better serve the LGBT parenting community. However, during the initial background research process, it became evident that LGBT parenting research is lacking in many respects. LGBT research is still

relatively new, less than thirty years of cumulative work, thus the full body of this work is still limited. The available published research has only recently begun to move away from a focus to dispel societal myths and stigma surrounding LGBT parenting and the outcomes of their children, to one of concentrating on the unique issues to LGBT parents, namely family formation and defining the LGBT parenting experience. In addition, the vast majority of this work has

researched lesbians parenting, and to a lesser extent, gay parenting; bisexual and transgender parents have largely been ignored in LGBT parenting research. Thus, the driving force behind the study questions in this project was born out of the need to understand what issues are important to the LGBT parenting population, and allow those issues direct future research in this arena. The purpose of this study was to identify the unique challenges and issues surrounding LGBT parenting as well as areas of need for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents in raising their children as the parents would define them. This information will be used to guide future research, program planning and/or resource allocation for LGBT parents and families. This is an important avenue of public health and specifically maternal and child health research for several reasons. There are an estimated two to eight million lesbian and gay parents (Ariel, 2000, Lassiter, 2006) raising an estimated 10 million children in the United States (HRC,

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


2006, Lassiter, 2006)). As members of a minority group, particularly one that is still legislatively and socially discriminated against (Lind, 2004), presents its own challenges, issues and needs. Knowledge based upon empirical evidence is essential to the success of the public health community being able to formulate programs and policies that work to improve the well-being and health of these families. Furthermore, in maternal and child health, the focus of our work is largely held within the narrow scope of mother-child health, without necessarily recognized the changing dynamics of how families are formed under the LGBT parent paradigm. It is our duty in MCH and public health to ensure that multiple models of the parent child paradigm are considered. Maternal and child health, overall centered on the well-being of children and families through the application of knowledge along the continuum of life, is well positioned to be champions of the LGBT parent movement. This body of research was created in support of the movement to better understand and serve our LGBT parents and their families. The project was conducted with the support of the Gay Family Foundation (GFF). GFF was founded in 2003 as a professional resource organization specializing in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) issues. The organization provides technical assistance and education opportunities in areas such as legal issues, healthcare, financial services, and capacity building for organizations serving LBGT issues. The mission of the Gay Family Foundation is to encourage, inform, support, and empower our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community by providing services which ensure social, financial, legal and medical protection. Mr. Duane Taylor, MCPH, JD, the founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of GFF is the site-preceptor for this project.

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


LITERATURE REVIEW Early research on LGBT parenting in the 1970’s predominately seen within the psychiatric literature. Much of this extant work focused on the mental health outcomes of the children of LGBT parents. Of specific interest in this body of work has been on children’s psycho-social outcomes, gender identity, sexual orientation, and parent-child relationships, and stigmatization or harassment faced by children. This research was necessary to dispel many popular myths and stereotypes of LGBT parenting and families that often contributed to negative arguments used against LGBT families in the areas of family law and adoption proceedings (Ariel, 2000; Bailey, 1995; Morris, 2002; Rand, 1982). Research in more recent years has

begun to move away from dispelling myths and have focused on the unique qualities of LGBT families. However, even this latter body of research is still relatively small and almost

exclusively focuses on lesbian parents. This research project was first conceptualized because of the narrow focus found in the current body LGBT parenting literature. In order to illustrate this point, highlight the overall

gaps in this body of work, and detail current knowledge surrounding LGBT parenting, a systematic review process was created. The objectives of the systematic review was three-fold; to provide preliminary background material and conceptual frameworks for the research study, to aid the researcher in the analysis and examination of the current research project, and to identify future research needs of this oft-neglected population. The methodology used for extracting research included a 25 key-word combination searched across five academic search engines for peer-reviewed articles on LGBT parents. Each of the following key words Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, homosexual, were cross matched each with the following key words: parent(s), mother (s, mom), father (s, dad), child

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


(children), and parenting. Academic search engines used were: Academic Search Premier, LGBT Life with Full Text, Ovid, Ovid Medline, and PsycINFO. Search was expanded by using expansion options to “similar words” and plurals of keywords. Furthermore, meta-analyses of LGBT parenting literature were reviewed to include research that was not identified in the online searches. Inclusion criteria for research included primary published work in scientific, research, professional, or other peer-reviewed material. Exclusion criteria included works not published in English, book-reviews, newsprint, magazine or other non-professional materials, works that were not primary research such as literature reviews or compositions. Concepts and themes that were frequently found in the searches, but do not relate to the current topic were excluded. These themes were; (1) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender or questioning youth, children, or adolescents. (2) HIV or AIDS. These titles are excluded unless article abstract specifically mentions LGBT persons in a parental role or child care capacity. The results of the systematic search yielded a total of 125 articles that were then reviewed to identify the main research question(s) and measurement outcomes. The research showed a huge gap in the sample of gay, bisexual and transgender parents. The research including 100 reports with lesbian mothers, 33 examined gay fathers, six for bisexual parents (male, female and non-gender specific), and five for transgender parents. The research questions and outcome measurements that were found in the literature fell into the following major themes; children’s outcomes, LGBT parenting experience, and measurements of external views and attitudes towards LGBT parents and their children. A

review of each of these areas of research is provided including an examination on issues pertaining to LGBT sampling.

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


Children’s Outcomes A primary focus in the literature reviewed was the overall well-being of the children of LGBT parents, found in nearly half of the articles retrieved (59 of 125). Child well-being was measured under three areas; child adjustment and psychosocial measurements, their experience of stigmatization or harassment due to their parents’ sexuality, and gender identity, gender roles or sexual orientation of children raised by LGBT parents. Child Adjustment and Psychosocial Measurements Measurements of children’s adjustment and psychosocial measures were found in 34 studies (Bos 2007; Bos 2007 (2); Chan 1998; Chan, 1998 (2); Erich, 2005; Flaks,1995;

Freedman, 2002; Gartrell, 2000; Gartrell, 2005; Gershon, 1999; Golding, 2006; Golombok, 1983; Golombok, 1997; Golombok, 2003; Gonzlez, 2004; Green, 1986; Haack-Møller, 1984; Huggins, 1989; Kirkpatrick, 1981; Leung, 2005; MacCallum, 2004; McCandlish, 1987; Mucklow, 1979; Murray,2005; Patterson, 1994; Patterson, 2001; Steckel, 1987; Tasker, 1997; Tasker, 1995; Vanfraussen, 2002; Wainright, 2004; Wainright; 2006; White, 2004; White, 2007). Measurements of child adjustment included emotional health, cognitive development, behavioral adjustment, self-esteem, peer-relationships, general psychosocial measurement, delinquency, substance abuse and school achievement. Twenty of the studies included comparison samples of heterosexual parents or children of mixed-sex parents and 31 examined lesbian headed families, five included gay-father headed families, three transgender parents, and one included bisexual parents. Overall, outcomes of these studies showed that no significant difference exists between child adjustment and psychosocial outcomes and the sexuality of their parents. Furthermore, a small number of studies showed that child-adjustment was better correlated to parent well-being

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


and parent-child relationships, regardless of their parent’s sexuality (Golding, 2006; Gonzlez, 2004; Patterson, 2001; Wainwright, 2004; Wainwright, 2006). These studies found a positive correlation between maternal mental health, closer parent-child relationships, and parent satisfaction with child adjustment. These finding have been reiterated in the American

Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychological Associations policy statements in support of LGBT parenting. The American Academy of Pediatrics policy specifically states (APA, 2005); “The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes that a considerable body of professional literature provides evidence that children with parents who are homosexual can have the same advantages and the same expectations for health, adjustment, and development as can children whose parents are heterosexual.” The three studies that examined child outcomes of transgender parents also examined children’s management of parents’ gender-transition. These studies found that children who were younger at the time of their parents’ gender transition tended to adjust better to the transition (White, 2004; White, 2007). The presence of family or marital conflict was high during the gender transition (Freedman, 2002) and family conflict worsened the child’s adjustment to the gender transition (White, 2004). Stigmatization, Harassment or Homophobic Encounters Measurements of children’s experience or fear of stigmatization, harassment or homophobic encounters related to their parent’s sexuality was found in twenty-one studies (Berger, 2000; Clarke, 2004; Hall, 1978; Gartrell, 1996; Gartrell, 1999; Gartrell, 2000; Gartrell, 2005; Gershon, 1999; Golombok, 1997; Golombok, 1983; Green, 1978; Haack-Møller, 1984; Lewis, 1980; Litovich, 2004; Lynch, 2000; Miller, 1979; O'Connell,1993; Patterson, 1994; Tasker, 1997; Touroni, 2002; Vanfraussen, 2002). Three of the studies included comparison samples of heterosexual parents or children of mixed-sex parents, 19 included lesbian headed
Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents 7

families, three gay-father headed families, and one for transgender parents and bisexual parents under this research theme. The results of these studies indicated that stigmatization and teasing (by?) does occur for children of LGBT parents (Clarke, 2004; Gartrell, 2000; Gartrell, 2005; Green, 1978, Litovich, 2004). Outcomes of these experiences are not congruent. Litovich (year) reports that

harassment does not effect the child’s well-being, while Vanfraussen (year) reports that children are not likely to be teased anymore than their peers. However, one study did find that selfesteem measures were negatively correlated with perceived stigma (Gershon, 1999) and another reports that children that report homophobic encounters had higher reports of psychological distress than those who did not have such encounters (Gartrell, 2004). In this research three studies noted that children were concerned with their peers’ reaction to their parents’ sexuality (Haack-Møller, 1984 Lewis, 1980; O’Connell, 1993, Touroni, 2002). Parents are noted as being aware that these situation may occur and their concern for their children (Clarke, 2004; Gartrell, 1996; Gartrell, 1999, Touroni, 2002). Gender Role Behavior, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Children’s gender roles, gender identity or sexual orientation were the focus of 23 published studies (Bailey, 1995; Bozett, 1988; Dundas, 2000; Freedman, 2002; Golombok, 1983; Golombok, 1996; Golombok, 2003; Green, 1978; Green, 1986; Haack-Møller, 1984; Hall, 1978; Harris, 1985; Hoeffer, 1981; Javaid, 1993; Kirkpatrick, 1981; Kweskin, 1982; MacCallum, 2004; McCandlish, 1987; Miller, 1979; O'Connell, 1993; Patterson, 1994; Tasker, 1997; Tasker, 1995). The majority of these studies, 18 studies, examined children of lesbian mothers, four included gay fathers and two for transgender parents. There were no studies in this group that included

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


bisexual parents. Twelve of the studies had comparison groups of children or families with heterosexual parents. Gender role behaviors are behaviors that are typically associated with female or male behavior (Anderssen, 2002) and gender identity refers to an individual’s perception or belief of their gender. In the reported studies, there was no significant variance for children of LGBT parents in gender roles, gender identity or sexual orientation. Specifically, among those

reporting on gender role behaviors only one study reported some daughters of lesbian mothers had shown preference for boy-type activities (Green, 1986), while another study noted that neither the majority of heterosexual parents or homosexual parents encouraged gender-typed toys or activities for their children (Harris, 1985). The majority of the studies found no

difference or above average findings for gender role behaviors in children of LGBT parents (Golombok 1983; Golombok, 2003; Green,1978; Green, 1986; Harris, 1985; Hoeffer, 1981; Kweskin, 1982; Patterson, 1994). For studies examining gender identity, one study with the children of transsexual parents as samples reported one child who had temporary questioning of gender identity (Freedman, 2002). Other studies had no significant findings in relation to gender identity of children with LGBT parents (Dundas, 2000; Freedman, 2002;, Kirkpatrick, 1981; MacCallum, 2004; McCandish, 1987). Finally, ten studies reported on the sexual orientation of children, either by children’s self report or parents report with the majority of children reported to be heterosexual (Bailey, 1995; Bozett, 1988; Golombok, 1983; Golombok, 1996, Green, 1978; Haack-Møller, 1984; Miller, 1979; O’Connell, 1993; Tasker, 1995). Golombok did find that daughters of lesbian mothers

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


were more likely to have considered in the past, or to consider same-sex relationships as compared to daughters of heterosexual single mothers (Golombok, 1996). LGBT Parenting Experience Research on the LGBT parenting experience was found in 37 scholarly articles and had varying approaches to examining families. Under this group of research, several themes emerged as important to describing the research on LGBT parenting. Research on family formation and defining roles, division of labor among LGBT parents, relationships with fathers and other family members, social support and disclosure of sexuality are presented here. For clarity in the presented research, social mothers/fathers or co-mothers/fathers are those parents who are not biologically related to the child. They are parents to their children, but may not always have a legally recognized status as a parent. Family Formation and Defining Roles Eleven studies investigated how families of lesbian and gays were formed and how, specifically in lesbian families, were mother roles defined in absence of traditional gender roles (Ben-Ari, 2006; Bennett, 2003; Crosbie-Burnett, 1993; Dalton, 2000; Gabb, 2005; Gartrell, 1996; Gartrell, 1999; Lynch, 2000; Mason, 2006; Ryan-Flood, 2005; Touroni, 2002). All of these studies included lesbian mothers, and two examined gay fathers. Two studies examined step-families specifically, one included lesbian mothers and both gay fathers. None of these studies included a comparison group. Among lesbian two-mother households, the research shows that the mothers work to define their roles in absence of traditional gender norms (i.e. father roles vs. mother roles)( Gabb, 2005; Lynch, 2000; Ryan-Flood, 2005; Touroni, 2002) and this includes specific challenges in legitimizing the role of the social mother as a parent or the gay-step parent (Ben-Ari, 2006;

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


Dalton, 2000; Gartrell, 1999; Mason, 2006; Touroni, 2002). In these families mother roles were determined in part by biology, personality and role preferences (Gabb, 2005; Touroni, 2002) Overall, parenting roles were flexible and superseded traditional heteronormative roles (RyanFlood, 2005). When examining the social mothers, who lack the biological link and often the

legal links to their children, it becomes important for the family to mediate these linkages (BenAri, 2006; Lynch, 2000). A variety of methods are used to establish relationships and These include using parallel mother

legitimacy both internally and externally to the family.

names for parents (i.e. mom and mama), including social mother’s last name in child’s legal name, pursuing adoptions, or where adoption is not permitted, using other legal maneuvers such as parenting agreements or power of attorney, equal child care responsibilities, and both mothers having biological children (Ben-Ari, 2006; Dalton, 2000; Gartrell, 1999; Mason, 2006; Touroni, 2002). Bennett, found no links between children’s attachment, biological or legal relationships (Bennett, 2003) while in the National Lesbian Study 2, mothers felt that time with the child was more important to producing a strong relationship than biology (Gartrell, 1999). Finally, in looking at family formations, the use of donor-insemination or other assisted reproductive methods in lesbian families brings to light the question of how prospective lesbian mothers view known or unknown donors. Studies examining this question have found mothers choose known and unknown donors for similar reasons. The reasons for choosing a known donor include not wanting to deny their children knowledge about their donor-fathers, to have the donor play a role in the child’s life, and the process was more private since mothers would not have to use any kind of social agency (Dalton, 2000, Gartrell, 1996; Touroni, 2002). For those that want to have an unknown donor, concerns of disputes with the father and whether

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


custody could be given to the donor-father, not wanting the father to usurp the role of the social mother (Dalton, 2000, Gartrell, 1996; Touroni, 2002). Division of Labor Ten studies reported on division of labor in lesbian households (Ben-Ari, 2006; Bialeschki, 1997; Chan, 1998; Ciano-Boyce, 2002; Gartrell, 2000; Patterson, 2004; Reimaann, 1997; Sullivan, 1996; Tasker, 1998; Vanfraussen, 2003). All of these studies examined lesbian coupled households, and five included comparison groups of heterosexual couples. None of these studies reported on division of labor in gay, bisexual or households with transgender parents. Many of these studies reported an equal division of labor in lesbian households for child care, household labor and paid labor (Ben-Ari, 2006; Chan, 1998; Ciano-Boyce, 2002; Patterson, 2004; Sullivan, 1996; Tasker, 1998; Vanfraussen, 2003). In each of the studies where mixed-

sex families were used as a comparison, lesbian households were found to be more equal in division of child-care (Chan, 1998; Ciano-Boyce, 2002; Patterson, 2004; Tasker, 1998; Vanfraussen, 2003), with heterosexual fathers preferring to have slightly less than half-time child care responsibilities (Chan, 1998; Patterson, 2004). Ciano-Boyce reports that co-mothers, or those mothers without a biological relationship to their children, preferred to have less child care responsibilities, though Chan found the opposite, with co-mothers preferring equal divide of child care . The overall equal divide of child-care and labor among the previously noted studies seems to support the latter of these findings. However, Reimann reports a slight difference in labor division between biological mothers and co-mothers, with biological mothers spending slightly more time in child-care activities, and co-mothers spending more time in paid labor.

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


Relationships with Fathers or other Family Members Eleven studies among lesbian women, researchers asked parents to describe either planned or real interactions of their children with fathers, father figures or extended family members (Clarke, 2005; Dundas, 2000; Fulcher, 2002; Gartrell, 1996; Gartrell, 1999; Gartrell, 2000; Goldberg, 2007; Golombok, 1997; Hare, 1993; MacCullum, 2004; Patterson, 1998). The results show that lesbian mothers have or plan to have male figures in the lives of their children, but this does not necessarily correlate to the traditional father role (Clarke, 2005, Hare, 1993, Gartrell, 1996; Gartrell, 1999; Goldberg, 2007, Patterson, 1998). Male figures included family friends or extended families members to be important male figures. Studies

examining the impact of fatherless families found no difference in social or emotional development between families with and without fathers (MacCullum, 2004), and that fatherless children experienced more interaction with their mothers (Golombok, 1997, MacCullum, 2004). MacCullum and Golombok’s studies disagreed on maternal warmth, whereas Golombok found more maternal warmth in fatherless families, and MacCullum found no difference (need more detail). Finally, research on children of lesbians has found significant interaction (what kinds) with extended family members (Fulcher, 2002; Gartrell, 1999; Gartrell, 2000, Patterson, 1998). Three studies found the grandparents on the biological mothers side to be more involved with their grandchildren as compared to the social mothers (Fulcher, 2002, Gartrell, 1999; Patterson, 1998) while one study found the opposite (Gartrell, 2000). Social Support Ten studies reported on social support for lesbian and gay parent (Bos, 2004; CrosbieBurnett, 1993; DeMino, 2007; Erich, 2005; Fredriksen, 1999; Gartrell, 2000; Kindle, 2005;

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


Leung, 2005; Lott-Whitehead, 1993; Lyons, 1983).

Among these, nine included lesbian

mothers, five gay fathers, yet none included measures of social support for bisexual or transgender parents. Four of these studies included a comparison group of heterosexual parents for comparison of social support (Bos, 2004; Kindle, 2005; Leung, 2005; Lyons, 1983). No significant difference was reported between the level of social support between heterosexual parents or lesbian and gay parents (Bos, 2004, Kindle, 2005, Lyons, 1983), while Erich found adequate levels of social support existed for lesbian and gay adopters (Erich, 2005). Leung reported the strong need for social support for adopters of special needs children or those that adopt siblings. Sources of social support are varying amongst these studies; Kindle reports higher reliance on partners and child-care for support compared to heterosexual couples (Kindle, 2005), while other reports highlight families, friends, lesbian community, and neighbors as sources of social support (DeMino, 2007; Fraise, 1999; Gartrell 2000). Finally, DeMino reports that lesbian mothers perceived less social support from friends and other lesbian and gay friends than lesbians who were not mothers, despite the fact that nearly half of their sample of lesbian mothers were taken from lesbian-mother social support groups (DeMino, 2007). Disclosure of Sexuality Fifteen studies examined elements of parents’ sexuality disclosure and children’s disclosure of family configuration (Crosbie-Burnett, 1993; DeMino, 2007; Dundas, 2000; Fredriksen, 1999; Gartrell, 1996; Gartrell, 2005; Gershon, 1999; Goldberg, 2007; Lewis, 1980; Lyons, 1983; Morris, 2002; Murray, 2005; O'Connell, 1993; Rand, 1982; Vanfraussen, 2002). Of these studies, fourteen included lesbian mothers, four for gay fathers, three for bisexual parents. None of the studies that examined disclosure included transgender parents. Disclosure signifies whether parents are open about their sexuality to others, including their children, other

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


family members and peer groups such as friends or co-workers, while children’s disclosure is child’s openness about their parents’ sexual orientation or family configuration. Several studies examined parents’ disclosure and show that many LGB parents are open to their children, family and peers about their sexuality (Dundas, 2000; Fredriksen, 1999; Gartrell, 1996; Gartrell, 2005; Morris, 2002). However, this may due to how samples are recruited (i.e. through LGB social organizations) and the likelihood of participants in studies to be open about their sexuality, or ‘out of the closet’. In the National Lesbian Family Study 4, Gartrell et al. found a significant (?) decrease in the number of mothers who were open about their sexuality since the National Lesbian Family Study 2, which the authors based on parents growing sensitivity towards their pre-adolescent children’s concerns about homophobia (Gartrell, 2005). Murry found that situations where parent’s disclosed their sexuality to their children later in life was not negatively associated with children’s anxiety or self-esteem (Murray, 2005). Finally, two studies reported that lesbian mother’s openness about her sexuality to be positively associated with mother’s psychological health (Dundas, 2000; Rand, 1982). Six studies reported on children of LGBT parents disclosure of family configurations and parent’s sexuality. Two studies reported that children felt a perceived need to hide their family configuration from peers (Lewis, 1980; O’Connell, 1993) or were more closeted about their families than their parents (Crosbie-Burnett, 1993), while Gartrell et al. reported only 4% of the children in their study as being completely hidden about their mother’s sexuality (Gartrell, 2005). Finally, Gershon found that children who were more open about their family

configurations had higher self-esteem (Gershon, 1999).

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


External Measures of Attitudes towards LGBT Parenting Ten articles were retrieved that investigated the attitudes others had towards lesbian and gay parenting (Brodzinsky, 2002; Crawford,1996; Crawford, 1999; Hee-sook, 2005; Kenyon, 2003; King, 1999; Marchesani, 2003; McLeod, 1999; Miall, 2005; Ryan, 2000). Eight of the

studies measured attitudes towards lesbian parenting, nine included gay men as parents. None of the studies measured attitudes towards bisexual or transgender persons as parents. Three of the studies sampled social workers or adoption agencies, three sampled college students, two sampled psychologists, and two sampled the general population. The results of the studies querying adoption agencies and social workers showed that many organizations do accept applications of lesbian and gay adopters (Brodzinsky, 2002; Kenyon, 2003), but in the absence of clear federal or state policies, personal and organizational attitudes can affect the workers placement decisions (Brodzinsky, 2002; Kenyon, 2003; Ryan, 2000). Ryan found, among his sample of 80 social workers, positive attitudes towards lesbian and gays as adopters was significantly associated with placement recommendations. Father, he found being white or African-American was significantly related to having higher homophobic scores, while specialty training was highly significant and positively correlated with positive attitudes towards lesbian and gay adopters. These same variables however were not significantly related to positive placement recommendations. Among those studies examining college students attitudes, negative attitudes towards lesbian and gay parents were reported(Crawford, 1996; King, 1999; McLeod, 1999). Gay fathers were viewed to have more problems with gender identity and confusion regarding their sexual orientation (McLeod, 1999) and were scored the lowest among parenting options presented in areas of emotionally stability, parenting ability, ability to create a secure home, and

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


dangerousness of home environment (Crawford, 1996).

Children of lesbian mothers were

viewed to have more problematic behavior than children of heterosexual mothers in King’s 1999 work. Psychologists sampled in two studies found overall positive views on lesbian and gay parenting (Crawford, 1999; Hee-sook, 2005). In general population studies, both of which were not samples of the U.S. population, found prevalent negative attitudes towards lesbian and gays as parents (Marchesani, 2003; Miall, 2005). However, Miall’s Canadian household sample did show that 48% of the sample found lesbian couples and 46% for gay couples, as very acceptable of somewhat acceptable as adoptive parents. Positive attitudes towards gay and lesbian couples were significantly associated with age (younger) and education (higher education) (Miall, 2005). Sampling Issues Surrounding LGBT Research Problems surrounding measuring the LGBT population are significant for research. Without accurate, national numbers on the LGBT population, or the LGBT parenting population, smaller surveys and polls are less reliable because of an absence of an adequate denominator in which to extrapolate the data to the larger population (Gardyn, 2001). Issues that have hindered accurate LGBT counts in the past include in adequate sample size, misclassifications and understanding of how LGBT is defined, and random errors that are likely to occur. Problems specific to measuring the LGBT community include people feeling uncomfortable revealing their sexual orientation to researchers and/or perceived or real discrimination is felt by the respondents (Gates, 2001). National data collection of LGBT using the Census, Current Population Survey (CPS) and Public Use Microdata Samples (PUMS) pose difficulties in their ability to capture persons living in a partnered same-sex relationship and willingness to disclose this information to census takers. Thereby, leaving a wide gap in the market data for LGBT as those persons who

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


are single or do not disclose the gender of their partners are not included in this research. Finally, how each survey and their administrators choose to define a “gay household” or homosexual has been found to be variable (Gates, 2001), making cross comparisons of data extremely precarious. On the other hand, the National Life and Social Life Survey (NHSLS) and the General Social Life Survey (GLS) ask direct questions about sexual orientation, enabling these surveys to capture more people who identify as LGBT. Two major problems exist with these surveys, however, the national sample (NHSLS) is only about 3,000 persons and the most recent data collection occurred in 1997 (GLS) and is a regional sample of the Chicago area only (Laumann, 1997). The 2000 U.S. Census estimates the number of gays and lesbians living in same sex households to be 1,202,418, while the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), based upon other LGBT research believes this number to be an underestimation by as much as 62% (HRC, 2001). The actual number of gay and lesbian household according to HRC is estimated to be 3,136,921 (Gates, 2001). Furthermore, the Census survey questions are designed only to capture same-sex households where there are two persons living together, not the entire LGBT adult population. Thus the estimate is truly only for those persons who are partnered and living openly and samesex couples. Problems with accurately finding the same-sex households in the U.S. will likely persist in the future until issues with questionnaire designs and administration are addressed, and the larger issue of heterosexism and discrimination towards LGBT people which prevent people from being open about their sexuality are confronted in our society. The empirical research that has been produced in the last thirty years on lesbian and gay parenting has greatly increased the body of knowledge that exists for this population. However, given the scarcity of data presented for bisexual and transgender parents, and to lesser

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


degree gay parents, presents a need to understand issues that pertain to these groups in particular. The body of work examining family formation, division or labor and role delineation is a departure from much of the previously presented literature, in that it looks to highlight the lesbian and gay parenting experience in its own right and not in comparison to heterosexual parents or their children. This work is seminal in the transition of LGBT studies away from dispelling the myths on child outcomes to research that works to better understanding the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parents experience, independent of a criticism. Still, this is a relatively small body of work, less than two dozen studies found in this review. The gap that this study intends to fill is direction for research as it moves towards understanding different dimensions of LGBT parents and families, allowing for these same parents to voice their opinion and priorities for this research.

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


METHODS Sample Recuitment Participants were recruited through an electronic invitation sent through organizational listservs that target the LGBT community and LGBT parenting specifically. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Family Project sent the invitaiton to people on their Family Project Listserv in the Washington D.C. area. After an initial low-response rate, other LGBT organizations were approched to share the invitation with their LGBT parents. As not all organizations responded directly to the researcher an adequate response rate can not be generated. Six known listservs, those who responded direclty to the researcher, stated they would distribute the email invitation.1 The materials and methods of the study were approved by The George Washington University Institutional Review Board (IRB#120601). Invitations asked interested particpants to contact the researcher directly by email or telephone to schedule an interview. There were two requirements for inclusion in this study; (1) The person must be a self-identified lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender person. (2) the person must be a parent of at least one child. This latter statement was qualified with the following; this child does not have to be biological or living with the person, or have legal parental or guradianship status. The person must simply view themselves as a "parent" or “primary caregiver” to a child. This latter definition of parent was kept expansive to accommodate the many different parent-child realtionships formed with LGBT parents, inlcuding those that may not be legally, or at times socially accepted by the larger populaiton, but are very real and tangible to parents and their children.

Note that some of the organizations that argreed to send out the information were geographically situated to serve to a small LGBT community. In the interests of protecting participant’s confidentiality these organizations will not be shared. 20 Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


Those participants who contacted the researcher were provided a unique identification number, electronic copies of the informed consent documents, links to an online demographic survey. Interested participants were asked to read through the informed consent and complete the online survey prior to the interviews. Data Collection This project was designed to be an exploratory opportunity to examine the selfdescribed challenges, issues and needs of LGBT parents. The study design of this project involved a two-part data collection process. The first was a brief, 14-item demographic questionnaire, followed by a semi-structured, one-on-one interviews with LGBT parents. The questionnaire was posted online to SurveyMonkey© and distributed directly to interested participants. The deomographic questionnaire was used to gather infromation on a persons gender, race, ethnicity, educational attainment, annual income, age-range, sexuality, number and ages of children, relationship with each child (i.e. adoption, biological), custody status of child, parent relationships with a parnter and length of time of that relationship, and current state of residence. The questionnaire was used to gather demographic descriptions of the participants for reporting. The second part of the data collection was conducted through semi-strucuted, one-onone interviews with interested participants.2 The interview included ten standard questions exploring parental issues and LGBT specific issues. The interview questions-structure is based on the first phase of the Predisposing, Reinforcing, Enabling Constructs in Ecosystem Diagnosis and Evaluation (PRECEDE) model. The intial phase in this model is the social assessment phase
The orginal study design included focus groups and one-on-one interviews with the premise that subjects in the area of George Washington University or the Gay Family Foundation’s Balitmore office would partiicpate in group sessions, while other subjects not in these areas could still have a voice in this process by participating in phone interviews. Howver, due to a low response rate in the immediate Washington-Balitmore region and the preference of those subjects in the area to conduct one-on-one interviews, the focus groups did not come to fruition in this project. 21 Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents

which focuses on overall quality of life issues and those priority issues defined by your population (Green, 2005). Following this model allows participants define their parenting

priorities within the definition of quality of life “the perception of an individuals or groups that their needs are being satisfied and that they are not being denied opportunities to pursue happiness and fullfillment” (Green, 2005). Therefore the questions in this study were designed to be general allowing for a broad discussions directed by the participants own experiences and opinions. Each parent was asked the following series of questions; (1) Describe your role as a parent. (2) What are some of the challenges you face as being a parent? (3) In your expereince, what is the hardest part about being a parent? (4) What does it mean to you to be a (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgendered) parent? (5) What do you see as challenges to being a (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgendered) parent? (6)What are some needs and/or resources that you think are necessary in life to raise children? (7) Do you think you have all the resources you would like to have to raise your children; or do you think you’ve encountered any barriers to them? (8) If you have encountered barriers, what are these barriers? (9) What if anything, do you think would help you to overcome these barriers? (10)

Beyond what we have already discussed, what is any advice or positive messages you would like to offer other LGBT parents? The interview format is broad in scope as the researchers intent was not to lead the participants down any certain path, but to let participants guide the conversations and therefore guide the thematic constructs. Intial pBrittanyg questions were developed to help describe a question in more detail while providing a consistent response to the participants, however probes

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


were used through the interviews to help the researcher explore different ideas and topics with partiicpatns as they arose in the interviews. Data Analysis The data collected during the course of this study were analyzed for themes and ideas about LGBT parents needs that were communicated through the course of the structured interviews on LGBT parents needs. Interviews were taped with a digital voice recorder by the researcher except for one participant where detailed notes were taken. Informed consent was verbally provided by each of the participants at the start of their interview. All interviews were then transcirbed by the researcher, then reviewed for accuracy. Using qualitative research

software NUDIST, the transcribed interviews were coded into thematic concepts based upon the main ideas and themes that each participant communicated in their interviews. The interview, transcription, verification of the transcriptions accuracy, and coding allowed the researcher a thorough review of the each case at least five times. Often individual portions of the data were reviewed multiple times to understand context and for the formulation of concepts. No thematic concepts were developed a priori.

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


RESULTS Fifteen participants were recruited for this study, with a total of thirteen (n=13) completing both the demographic questionnaire and the interviews. The two participants who did not complete the interviews were removed from the demographic analysis as the researcher was unable to obtain consent from these individuals. Of the 13 who completed the study, 11 were recruited through the electronic invitation distributed through LGT organizations, 2 participants were recruited through referrals. There was a fair degree of variability among the participants in terms of sexuality and how their families were formed, and current state of residence, and less variability by race and ethnicity. Chart A describes each participant on the main demographic information collected and Chart B shows the variability of the parents and their families. Overall, this study included seven lesbian mothers, three gay fathers, and three bi-sexual parents. Two of the participants were transgender parents, one identified themselves as a transgender male to female, the other identified as a transgender female to male parent. Nine of the participants described their race as white, two were Black/African American, one was Asian, and one was more than two races. All the participants were nonHispanic or non-Latino. The median age range for the participants was 46-55 years old, the median income range was $40,001-$60,000 (note that age and income were collected in ranges, therefore median age or income could not be calculated). Participants had a total of 29 children, one was deceased. The age ranges for children was 1 year to 33 years old; the median age for children was 14 years old, the mean age was 14.9 years old. The sample size was too small to allow for any meaningful statistical analysis.

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


The total length of interview time was seven hours, 58 minutes.

The range of

interview times was 24 minutes to 49 minutes. The median interview time was 37.5 minutes, the mean was 36 minutes, 45 seconds. Transcribed interviews created 85 pages of word processed documents. The concepts to emerge through the interview process are presented into thematic groupings with definitions based upon the researcher’s observations, then descriptions are provided by actual statements made by participants in the interviews. Themes and concepts fall under three major headings; challenges in parenting, challenges or situations unique to LGBT parents, and needs or resources needed for parenting with barriers to needs or resources discussed when mentioned by participants. Each concept is presented in the results section in ranked order, with those described the most by participants listed first. Challenges in Parenting: This heading refers directly to question number two and three in the interview script; (1) What are some of the challenges you face as being a parent? (2) In your expereince, what is the hardest part about being a parent? Time: Time was discussed by six of the participants (46%) as a challenge to parenting. This concept is described by the participants in the form of a time-life balance, having enough time to take care of all the duties and responsibilities one has of being a parent in addition to their other competing responsibilities, including work, household duties and having time for other relationships in their lives. Many of the participants describe sacrifices that need to be made in their lives in order to accommodate the competing demands for their time. Ben3, a gay adoptive father of a young daughter, describes his challenge; “As a single parent, it is the time element trying to fit everything in, its just really hard. And as I tell people all the time , ‘I love to cook, I just don’t have time to cook’.”
Note, all participants names have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants. Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


Similarly Cait, a lesbian adoptive mother with a young son, states; “I would say that he is there everyday (laughing, you know, just time to be alone, just be me and my partner. It isn’t necessarily a strain on our relationship, but it does make our relationship a lot different because our primary focus is not on each other, but dealing and addressing his issues first, and with each other, we come a close second, but still its second.”

Letting Go: Letting go was stated by five participants (38%) as being a challenge. Letting go is described as the process of allowing their children the independence to grow into their own person while relinquishing the parental control they formally had, in their children’s lives. Child age does not seem to be a direct factor into this parenting challenge, as the children of the participants who stated this as a challenge ranges from five years to 33 years. Brittany, who coadopted her daughter with her partner, describes this during her interview; “Since I now have a 13 year old daughter, its very had to see them, you know, push away from you, as they try to figure out who they are, which is what happens. They push away from you so they can see who they are, not in your shadow, not in your image. That’s a huge challenge.” George, a gay father of five older children from a heterosexual marriage, reiterates this sentiment; “So the hardest part is really letting go, and Carole [George’s wife] said the same thing. She said the hardest part for her was learning that the kids were individuals too, they have their own lives, and letting them go and do their, do their living, and learning their lesson and so forth, and being there as a support rather than try to lay everything out”. Being a Single Parent: Being a single parent was stated by 5 participants (38%) as being a challenge. Three of the participants in their demographic questionnaire stated they were single, without a partner. One participant describing being single as a challenge, his wife has been in assisted living for numerous years leaving him to the day to day care of their children. Finally, Sam, although currently in a relationship, still stated being single as being a challenge. Thus,

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


single parenthood was defined using the participants self-descriptors of their parenting status, and not on the describe relationship status presented in the demographic survey. The specific challenges of single parenthood vary for the participants. Two stated the challenges of being a single parent in terms of the time it takes, day to day, to take care of their children, without having the support of another person in this area. Two participants related this challenge as not having other parents who understand what its like to be a single parent, thus they felt somewhat marginalized within the parent community. Tara, a transgendered parent of two children, one adult and one 10 years old, described her challenge with single parenthood; “So when you talk about odd parent-child schedules and stuff, they don’t quite get it because when their child is sick, they have another parent to share the duties.” This same idea is even further delineated by Ben, who adopted his daughter without a partner, feels that there is a difference between single parents who share custody versus those that are ‘intentional single-parents’, those parents who enter into parenthood without ever having another parental figure. “And the other important thing about the other single parents that I know who have, or who have former relationship that have now broken up, they are not full time parents. They are parents for one week, or every other weekend and Wednesday nights. So they are part time parents, and they get to have both parts of their lives. They get to be, and I’m talking about men, they get to be gay dads occasionally, and they get to have the rest of their lives which are fairly footloose and fancy free”. Finally, two other challenges the participants felt were unique to their single parent status was respite from parenting and taking care of yourself so that your children won’t be without a parent. There was no single theme definition of what constitutes a single-parent

challenge, but the myriad of responses is telling to the dynamics of individual experiences.

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


Unsure of Parenting Skills: Unsure of parenting skills is discussed by four participants (31%) as a challenge to parenting. Unsure of parenting skills is described by the participants as an uncertainty of knowing whether or not they are parenting in a way that is most beneficial to their children. Brittany describes this challenge as; “Oh God, you worry about everything. I mean there’s no manual. You don’t know if you’re doing the right thing or the wrong thing.” Stacy, a lesbian mother of two young children, stated; “Making sure that you are a good example, I don’t know, trying not to spoil them, but you want them to be happy. I would say the hardest part is making sure that you are doing it right, because you never know if you are or you’re not.” These statements, and others made by participants is indicative of a need for assurances and information about parenting, which many parents in this study actively sought through relationships with other parents, LGBT parents and information services. This idea is further supported in later discussions of needs and resources. Challenges or Unique Issues for LGBT Parents: This heading refers directly to question number four and five in the interview script; (4) What does it mean to you to be a (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgendered) parent? (5) What do you see as challenges to being a (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgendered) parent? These issues presented themselves thoughout the interview process and are synthesized into sub-categories below; legal issues, social issues, assumptions of heterosexuality or mother-father realtionships, always coming out (schooldisclosure), and coming out later in life. Legal Issues: Seven participants (54%) described situations of experiences with the judicial system or existing laws as a challenge or issues related to being an LGBT parent. Three participants described personal experience of with the judicial system where their sexual
Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents 28

orientation played a role. Adam, a divorced bisexual father of two described the circumstances he was faced with when negotiating his divorce from his wife; “But they said, well, I literally had to sit down with the mediator who told me that the court would see me as a deviant and that my children would only be allowed to see me two-hours a week and under supervision. And that was a mediator that I was paying a $150.00 an hour.” In this situation Adam’s sexuality was used as a negotiating tool by his wife with the knowledge that if the divorce negotiations took place in open court, he would not have any rights to his children. Sam, a recently divorced mother of two who also identified as a transgender

lesbian, was advised by her lawyer not to mention her sexuality or gender issues in her divorce proceedings. In the end Sam ignored this advice and maintains full custody of her children. Tara, on the other hand, felt that she was not prejudiced against during her divorce proceedings because of her trans-gender parent status, although it was used as an argument for the child’s welfare, which the judges ultimately felt was not a factor in the child’s well-being. Issues surrounding LGBT adoption, co-adoptions and second-parent adoptions by partners were discussed by four mothers. Cait relates a story of her son’s adoption where she felt that she could not openly present herself as a lesbian who wanted to adopt. “Because I did it essentially, because I really couldn’t tell the truth to them. I didn’t outright lie to them and say I’m not a lesbian, or I’m not dating anyone, anything like that, I didn’t say anything. The omission to me was kind of what it is, you know, but I knew it would be the only way that I was approved.” Still other adoption and legal issues regarding securing parental rights were present for this group. Three participants described situations where their partners that had no legal

recognition or protection of their parental roles. This was described as one parent having the sole responsibility for medical and other official decisions, and as issues of protecting of the family unit, if something were to happen to the legal parent or the parents split, there would be

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


nothing legally to protect them. The challenge of sole-parental rights for partnered parents was of varying degree of importance. Cait felt it was very important to her to find a way to secure parental rights for her partner, while Stacy felt it was a ‘little bit’ of a challenge. Stacy and her partner had created legal documents to help secure, to an extent, their families wishes, while Cait and her partner were looking to find information on creating legal security in their new state of residence. Societal Issues: A total of seven participants (54%) described heterosexist societal issues they felt were challenging as a LGBT parent. Social issues under this theme included those situations or statements made by the participant that represented institutionalized or cultural situations of heterosexism or homophobia on a scale larger than individual encounters. The most prevalent societal issue described by seven participants were situations or sentiments that their family and/or their children may not be wholly accepted by society because of their sexuality or family configuration. Ben eloquently stated the need to prepare his daughter to meet this issue. “I think, you know, again as I look at my role as a parent, and the things that I want to provide my daughter with, umm ….you know, I am a gay man who is raising an African American daughter in contemporary American society. So, my goal is to provide her with the skills to deal with a society that may not always completely always embrace her.” Beth, a lesbian mother who adopted her partner’s biological child, describes a similar felling; “We are members of a particular community, and we feel an identity with that community, and we’re are raising our daughter to feel an identity with that community, and trying not to force her to be as out all the time, or always with us on every issue, but making her aware of the fact that there are issues to deal with, and there are prejudices, even toward the children of such families, and that she may encounter this more as she gets older, especially in middle school.” Finally, Sam stated; “For me steering my life in the healthiest way possible and that they [her children] can kind of feed off of that wake, and as long as its authentic and healthy then that’s they way its going to be. So sometimes its hard, so there’s a
Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents 30

challenge in making decisions that go against social norms, and having to remind yourself that it may be hard for them, but it’s not bad for them. Even though people say it is bad for them.”

In each of these situations, the parents recognize that their sexuality will not be accepted by all persons in the society, and that non-acceptance may be passed onto their children. Two participants discussed situations regarding obtaining insurance for themselves or their children that would not be present in a mixed sex family, because either they were not allowed on their partners insurance or their children would not be able to get on their partners insurance because no legal recognition of their parental status. The issue of insurance could be viewed under the heading of legal issues as well since federal laws mandated insurance practices for families. However, it is placed under the category of social issues since insurance companies or organizations offering insurance can adjust their own organizational policies to provide for different family configurations if they chose to do so. Brittany and Adam both felt that negative images in the mass media or those messages that pervaded society ultimately were unfairly hurtful to children of LGBT parents Adam stated; “I don’t think that there is a lot of information out there, and in fact, there is a lot of negative press about GLBT parents. And it shouldn’t be, it shouldn’t exist. The kids are going to be warped, and things going to be bad, and that’s just not the case.”…. “Because all of the images, they are tough for children, they hurt my children. Because they love their dad, and they think their dad is good and their dad works, and does all this good stuff, but they hear in the press that gay parents are bad.” Disclosure: Disclosure for the parents and the children, is described by seven participants (54%) as a challenge or issue specific for LGBT parents. Under this theme is a sub-category of schoolsituations, which deals specifically with disclosure in school. Disclosure is described as ‘always coming out’ where the participants feel they must disclose their sexual orientation or family
Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents 31

structure, often in the context of their children. This is often juxtaposed to situations where either another person is asking a direct question about their relationships or their family structures, or the perceived need to make others aware of their family structures in order to mitigate possible future repercussions. In the former description of this construct, Brittany explains: “In the beginning we would go to these school cocktail parities, and it was ‘who are you?’, ‘whose your child?’, ‘where’s your husband?’, “I don’t have a husband’. You know, you just have to always explain yourself, it never ends.”

This situation based on the interview context is a forced revelation of personal relationships that they feel they do not, or should not have to explain. Cait states this in her interview; “It is of course different but it doesn’t feel ….I don’t feel like I have anything to explain to anybody necessarily, but like I know that have to. Like at school he seems to be the only one in his class with two moms, or two dads, anything like that. So his teacher, I feel that we need to make sure that people that he is around are not, that they are okay with this.” Cait’s statement is parallel to those made by both Stacy and Beth. There existed a need for them understand what other peoples feelings and reactions might be towards them and their children about their sexuality and family configuration. Included in this idea was the participants preparing their children for possible encounters with people or in general with a society that may not be accepting of them. This is facilitated by open discussions about their family

configuration and reaching out to LGBT or other diverse kinds of families. The participants were very inclusive and aware of the importance of showing their children all the different kinds of families that exist. First to show them that they aren’t alone, but wanting also too, to raise children who were accepting of diversity as well. School Disclosure: Five participants (38%) described situations specific to their children’s The participants that discussed school

school as being an issue unique to LGBT parents.

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents

disclosure were all mothers who have always raised their children openly as LGBT parents. The situations with the school tie in closely with the preceding theme of ‘always being out’. There was a necessity among these participants to discuss with teachers and schools their child’s family configuration at school for two main reasons; the first is to understand whether the teachers or administrators are accepting of their family configuration, and to prepare teachers to deal with possible situations with the children relating to their families. Brittany discusses this latter situation in her interview; “I think there certainly are challenges to being a gay family because you have to educate. I think our school had to be educated a little bit about the unique challenges. I mean Sarah was taunted in the first grade, and the fact is, and she was taunted by a little boy in her class, and the fact is he didn’t have a clue what he was saying. He called Sarah,, and for some reason he said to Sarah, ‘Your parents are faggots’. So he said something, and when Sarah got home she was upset, she had no idea what it meant, except that is was bad. So we called the school and the school was all over it, they called the parents in, and there was this whole thing about hate language.”

Amanda, a lesbian mother with one child, and Cait both stated that it was important to talk with schools before their child attends in order to figure out whether the teacher or the administration had problems with LGBT families. Amanda’s statement on this; “But I think its helpful for her teachers to know because…well when we first went to look at the school I wanted to know if there were any other kids with same-sex parents, because that right there automatically if they do have other parents there, then they at least have experience with same-sex parents and them.” Assumptions of Heterosexuality or Mother-Father Relationships: Four participants

discussed assumptions of heterosexuality or mother-father relationships as a challenge in LGBT parenting (31%). Under this sub-category, these participants who are all lesbians living opening as a lesbian parent, represented a feeling of either being in a situation where they would have to disclose their sexuality or in two cases, made them feel that their parenting position was

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


challenged. To further illustrate the latter position, Amanda describes her feelings when dealing with heterosexual assumption; “It’s the automatic assumption because of the way that the world works right now. Its less of an assumption than it was twenty years ago. But its still, sometimes like, like, wow, I just wasn’t there, like I wasn’t a parent for a second because she just assumed there was some guy, you know, that was there.”

Cait reiterates this sentiment when she relays an encounter with a physician when she and her partner were present for their sons surgery; “He was kind of looking at me like, why are you here if your not the mommy, and he was kind of questioning me like, ‘who are you?’, ‘what do you do?’, and trying to find out, and it was kind of irritating to me that he was assuming that some parent would send their child with someone that wasn’t related to him to something as important as an ear surgery. So that wasn’t the first time something like that happened, so I just had to kind of get over myself and really its fine. Whatever.” In Cait’s situation, the assumption present is that the son would only have one mother, or the assumed position that children have one mother and one father, not two mothers or another family configuration. .

Assumptions of mother-father relationships was also encountered by other mothers in various ways. For instance, Brittany describes her frustration when having to fill out forms or paper work that list mother and father, while Beth relayed a story of how her daughter is only allowed to write one mother’s day card at school, despite her teachers knowing she has two moms. Coming out Later in Life: Four of the participants (31%) came out about their sexuality, and two their transgender status later in life to their families and children. When participants came out was not an item on the demographic survey-inventory, thus those who fall into this thematic concept are those who detailed this information during the interview process.

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


The situations described by participants involved the challenges they dealt with in mitigating this situation with their children and spouses, and their own personal struggles with their sexual identity. Beginning with the personal struggle of coming out, Sam describes her situation with the researcher as; “Laurie was like holding my hand through all of this. Two weeks later I came out to the kids about her, came out to them as gay, came out to my parents. I got an attorney who was telling me not to come out as gay or trans in the middle of all this divorce stuff, and I just said I can’t, I can’t. As much as I didn’t want everything to be another crises, it was like a volcano blowing. It was like I had to throw off all this crap and get down to bedrock.”

George describes his coming out in similar climatic circumstances; “Well I had suffered from depression for years, and years, and years. I’d been for about five or six years in therapy and on medication. And during the course of that time, I finally dug through to the bottom and faced my sexuality and if I hadn’t come out of the closet I would have committed suicide, that’s all. So it was either come out or die. So that’s how serious it was. I guess I didn’t want to die, but it was a scary time.” While not all the participants described their coming out process is such powerful situations, coming-out represented significant life changes for each of the participants. Challenges in disclosing sexuality to their children occurred in the context of children who, prior to disclosure, had only known their parents to be heterosexual or in one gender role. In 3 situations, disclosure of sexuality was followed by a divorce. Adam, in previous sections

describes his difficulty with the legal system in his divorce, also relayed how his daughter reacted to learning of his bi-sexuality after her mother told her; “She was devastated by the news, and she will tell you it was the hardest thing, next to the divorce, that she has ever gone through.” George’s disclosure was preceding by uncertainty and fear of how his children were going to react;

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


“Well the big worry is, what kind of, how will that reality in your life affect your relationship with your children. ….. It’s a very different thing if you are a member of a heterosexual marriage and you come out of the closet and your children are older and all the fears, like will they like me, will they throw me out of their lives, that kind of stuff.” Finally, Jon, a father of four who came out to his family in his forties, discussed the importance of having his wife’s support through his coming-out process; “I came out to my wife before I ever had sexual contact with a man, and I said to her ‘I’m going to be struggling through this, I need your support as I deal with this’ and ‘did you want me to leave?’. And she said ‘have you ever given me reason why I should ask you to leave’, and I said, ‘No, I’ve never been unfaithful’, and then she said ‘then I don’t’ want you to leave, we’ll work through this together.’” Needs of Resources Needed for Parenting: Themes within this heading include participant generated responses to the interview question: What are some needs and/or resources that you think are necessary in life to raise children? The leading resources and needs cited by parents as being important to raise their children were social support from other parents, and other LGBT parents and families, information about parenting, social-legal changes, and lesser mentioned items, spiritual and mental health resources. Stated barriers to these needs (questions seven and eight), are included in the thematic discussions, although many participants reported no barriers to finding or obtaining the resources they needed. Social Support: Social support is discussed by almost all (n=12, 92%) of the participants as a need/resource for themselves and their children. Social support varies for the participants from other LGBT families for parents and children, social support from other parents for themselves and their children, general support from their communities and in the form of respite. Beginning with social support from other parents, six participants detailed this as an important need for them. Ben describes this as other parents who have similar situations as himself;

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


“…and certainly one of the things that many times speaks to me, is that once you become a parent your social network will end up being other parents, not necessarily other gay parents. So for me, one of my greatest support groups mechanisms here in [location deleted for confidentiality] is another pediatrician couple that have a daughter who is six-months older than my daughter.” Six participants discuss the need to have other LGBT parenting groups as a resource for themselves. Another six, five of whom are in the former group, would like to have access to LGBT parenting groups so that their children are exposed to similar family configurations. Cait talks about her need to have other LGBT friends; “Needs, one thing that we definitely need more of are friends with family structure like ours. Right now we have none. There was another couple when we were in [location deleted for confidentiality] that had a set of twins that we were really, really close with and when we left I was just devastated, because it was like that was it, it was all we had. So we need friends, and support, and just to have somebody in general.” Adam discusses this same need; “And I really think that a lot of GLBT parents might experience this, that your really cut adrift out there. I don’t really see the supportive network, because you are isolated. Its not like you live on a street of gay parents. You are the only gay parent on the street, most likely, and you don’t just have anybody else you can site down and talk to and share your personal concerns with.” This idea of sharing personal concerns is similar to what the parents described as needed for their children. Tiffany, a single mother of five children, four of whom are adopted, describes sending her oldest children to a camp for children of LGBT parents; “So it was a regular camp but then they also had time to talk about ‘hey what’s it feel like at school when somebody uses the word fag’ or that gives them a chance to talk about it from their point of view too.” When asked why having her children be around other different kinds of families was important to her, Stacy describes it; “Well I just want them to feel normal, and I don’t want them to ever be treated differently.”

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


Finally, for Sam her hope is to provide her children with a setting where they can meet other children of LGBT families while faced teenagers resistant to the idea; “Well we almost went to the Rainbow Families workshop a couple of weeks ago, but it was all day Saturday. You just cannot get a teenager to commit to all-day Saturday, even though they were going to have COLAGE there working with the teenagers, my kids have never done anything. I mean they certainly meet other gay people, and even meet other trans people but not in any kind of structured setting. ….I mean there can be no book hip enough, and you can’t just give them a book.” Participants, in addition to other families to meet with, suggested items such as books, television shows, and other media that represented diverse families was important for their children to have. Three participants stated that general community support and support in terms of respite from child care were necessary resources. Barriers to social support included three participants didn’t have access to an LGBT social support group in their area, even despite one participants attempt to create a LGBT parent group. Encompassing access barriers included

geographic location, whereas several participants felt that if they lived in a non-metro or city area, they would have less access to other LGBT resources or families. Information Resources: Information resources was cited by five (38%) participants as an important need. Three felt that other forms of parenting information resources was important, Brittany felt that she would have liked more information about her options to become a parent when her an her partner were looking to have a child 13 years ago. She feels that this is has changed, but details her own story of her adoption to illustrate the complexity of their process and the need they had for information; “Adoption, domestic adoption, international adoption, and which countries, and which countries you have to pretend that your single, all those kinds. ….I mean we had a flow-chart! You know, all the different countries and not just, if we had a baby, who would have the baby, what sperm bank we would go to, what would be our, what kind of sperm we would want, what kind of characteristics of a man would we want. And if we went international what country, what kind of issues
Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents 38

with each country, what needs to be considered for each country. There’s so much to consider!” Finally Adam felt that had he had more information at the time of his divorce, things may have worked out differently for him; “Oh, oh! Oh, if I had more information, if I had thought that there, at the time I didn’t have really any connection to the [LGBT] community and I was afraid to try and get any support from the community. Because I was afraid it would become public in someway, and it would just make it worse for my kids. So I just had that fine line that I had to walk… pointers, that would have been a huge help, had I talked with men or women who had gone through similar things. Or, knew, I mean I know now that there is the Lambda League Defense Fund and other things out there, but I had no connection with them at that time.” Many of the participant that felt information was a necessary resource for them to have in raising their children felt very adept at finding the information on their own, through formal sources such as classes or books, or informal through peer-parenting relationships. Social Legal Changes: Four participants (31%) noted social and legal changes they felt were important needs to raising their children. Brittany states; “Legalizing gay marriage, and legalizing in all 50 states, gay adoption. Just saying it. Just, enough with it The fact that its illegal for gay people to adopt anywhere is unthinkable, its unreal to me. Its unreal.” Stacy too felt that legal changes were important; “If we could legally marry, and she could adopt the kids, I think it would help a lot, and then she can legally marry and adopt the kids that would make a huge difference. Just for peace of mind, especially, we travel all over, and worry if something happened, and plus financially it would be lift a burden, financially for us in many ways. Like for us, we would like to have more kids, but when people have three or four kids, somebody usually stays home and is a stay at home mom, but that is not an option for us.” Both Tiffany and Adam discussed more open social attitudes towards LGBT parents and persons as being important.

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


DISCUSSION These findings are representative of the experiences and opinions of a small group of LGBT parents, thus cannot be generalized for the larger LGBT parenting population. However, there was notable concordance among the participants in their experiences with legal issues (54%), social issues (54%), need for social support for themselves and their children (92%), issues surrounding sexuality disclosure (85%), and the time-life balance (46%). The results

show that for LGBT parents there are challenges and needs associated with being parents, then layered upon that there are challenges, issues and needs specific to LGBT parents and families that are related to their sexuality. The diversity within this group of LGBT parents is relevant to the issues and

challenges raised by the participants. Mothers raising their children openly as lesbians were concerned about assumptions of heterosexuality, mother-father relationships, challenges surrounding disclosure, and issues pertaining to schools, whereas this was not mentioned by parents who came out later in life. This finding is supported work by Land & Kitzinger in 2005. They too found that “lesbians encounter considerable interactional difficulty in managing their lesbian identities with strangers” and furthermore that circumstantial disclosure often happened in response to heterosexist presumptions (Land, 2005). While no formal theories can be deduced by this body of work, it would be interesting to understand why disclosure was not an issue for parents who come out later in life to their families and children. Perhaps they are somewhat protected from this experience by having an opposite-sex parent, and or their children have reached an age where their friends and peers only know them to be in a heterosexual family, and therefore there isn’t a pressing need to explain parent’s sexuality or changing family structures. This idea is somewhat supported by two of the
Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents 40

parents in this thematic group who are single and openly gay or lesbian. They stated that they are somewhat protected by their single-status from questions pertaining to their relationships. As Ben explains; “Well, that I will always have to explain, or that people will talk, not necessarily behind my back, but will explain my situation before I do. And I think in some ways being a single parent makes it easier, because nobody needs to know my sexual orientation, unless I make a point of it.” Among those parents who came out later in life, there existed challenges and situations that were unique to this group that did not pertain to the participants who had always raised their children openly as gay or lesbian. Dealing with the judicial system, not knowing how their children or their families were going to react, finding information and support to help them mediate the coming out-process while maintaining parent-child and relationships with spouses are unique to parents who come out later in life. Parents who came out later in life were also those that had their children in context of a mixed-sex relationship, three of which ended in a divorce. Divorce itself is a significant life experience for parents and children, where children of divorced parents have been found to score lower on measures of well-being, school achievement and adjustment (Amato, 2001). Divorce and family transitioning within the

context of sexuality disclosure is unique to LGBT parents and therefore should be accorded exploration on it own to learn if there exists a synergistic effect of divorce and disclosure and how that affects children of LGBT parents. Single parents and partnered LGBT parents have different challenges of their own. Single parents needs and challenges revolved around time, family-work balance and support needed to parent their children. Partnered parents issues also involved time, but included timespent with their partner, an issue also found in the National Lesbian Study 2 (Gartrell, 1999).

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


Furthermore, single parents such as Ben and Tara felt the need to connect with other single parents, to find support within this specific community. The need for social support by other parents is consistent with other research. Lassiter et al describes , “being proactive in receiving social support was a consistent theme that emerged as an external factor contributing to empowerment” (Lassiter, 2006). This author finds that the participants in this study of lesbian and gay parents used social support to experience respect as a parent within the gay and lesbian community. The participants in this study did not describe but did find the

the need of social support specifically in the way of garnering respect,

experience empowering. As Ben stated in his interview describing meeting with other gayfathers; “I really, you know, I was so absolutely empowered when I was in the house in Provincetown two summers ago. It was chock full of gay dads and their kids. You know, I wish I had my camcorder with me just to, you know, to record that image, you know all of these men who had really defined, I think in a really significant way, alter the usual paradigm of gay male life. And say, this is about something that is bigger than me, you know.” In a study of mothers with young children and social needs, Rullo & Musatti found that “What mothers look for does not seem to be support in coping with child care, which can be ensured by their family, but a social exchange with persons that are having the same life experience.” (Rullo, 2005). This statement in many ways mirrors the statements made by the participants in this study, whereas social support groups were largely defined by parent groups similar to their own experience (i.e. parents of children the same age, other LGBT parents, parents who are single). Stacy in her interview states; “I think the other thing that is really important, like a peer group that knows what you your going through. Researcher: And what would you describe as a peer group? Well like the Rainbow Families group. You know other parents in the same situation. We actually probably, hang out with a lot more straight people than we do with gay people, just because we know a lot more straight people with kids,
Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents 42

especially kids their own age. Once you have kids you tend to hang out with people who have kids of the same age group. And we don’t hang out with people from Rainbow Families outside of the group, but I think you learn a lot from other parents, who are going through the same stages you’re going through, so even if they not gay parents, you still, it still helps.” In other research on parenting and social support Mistry et al, found a negative relationship with risk of poor mental health and emotional support (P<.05 OR 3.44 (CI 2.02, 5.65) and functional support (P<.05 OR 2.17 (CI 1.27m 3.73)). This study was also among mothers with young children and neither of these studies included any LGBT parents specifically. It would be of interest for public health to learn more about access to social support groups specific to the needs of these participants (i.e. other parents, other LGBT parents and families) and if it plays a role in the emotional health of parents. This should especially be considered for those LGBT families that live in rural areas or where there isn’t a large LGBT parent population as geography was viewed as a barrier by participants in this research to finding social support. In looking at the overall experience of the participants in this study, it would be remiss to not discuss the issue of cultural heterosexism and the influence it has on the LGBT parenting experience. Heterosexism is the assumption that heterosexuality is the norm for all people, and to another degree, that heterosexuality, as the sexuality for the majority of people, is then the preferred or inherently superior sexual orientation. Homophobia, in turn, is a negative outward expression of heterosexism, which can take the form of emotions, verbal, or physical responses (Land, 2005, Litovich 2004, Casper 1992) The participants in this study describe outward,

direct expressions of heterosexism (i.e. Adam experience with his divorce, and Stacy’s being unable to pursue a second-parent adoption), systematic heterosexism that may not always have

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


an obvious expression (i.e. participants feelings of their families or children not being accepted by society), and instances where the fear or expectation of heterosexism permeates their lives as individuals and as parents (i.e. George’s fears about his children possibly rejecting him before he disclosed his sexuality, school experiences). Among the themes where there was a good deal of concordance, heterosexism relates to legal and social issues, disclosure, and somewhat to the need for social support. Furthermore, the influence of heterosexist America crossed all sub-groups within the parents in this study and represents a significant issue in the lives of LGBT persons, parents and their children. The parents in this group were far from being naïve to this influence and in such had developed proactive stances that aimed to help mediate this influence for themselves and their children. In this study parents reported talking to their children about the importance of acceptance and tolerance towards other people and had open dialogues with their children to prepare them for negative or questioning responses to their family configuration. These same responses are detailed as coping mechanisms used by lesbian mothers to mitigate the effects of homophobia or heterosexism their children may encounter (Litovich, 2004). For the public health community it is important to learn more about these coping mechanisms to share with other LGBT parents and their children, while above all, being social and policy advocates to address the legal and institutional forms of heterosexism LGBT families encounter. This is especially true given that social change is highlighted as a need for LGBT parents in this research. Critique and Limitations of the Research A limitation to this project is the sampling was a convenience sample of people responding to email invitations from selected listservs. Although a number of listservs were

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


requested to send out the material, a small response of 13 persons makes generalizations to the greater LGBT community limited. Furthermore this sample did not include any LGBT parents whose sexuality was non-disclosed. Parents whose are non-disclosed likely have their own issues and challenges that are significant to their health and well-being, and understanding how that relates to their children’s experiences is important area to understand, but not found in the scope of this work. Another limitation, however arguable, is that no comparison group of heterosexual parents was used to compare the LGBT sample to find whether the challenges or needs are specific to LGBT parents and families or to all parents and families. As an exploratory project of LGBT parenting experience, challenges and needs, a comparison group of heterosexual parents would not have been appropriate. A more fitting design for future research in this area may be intra-group comparisons with the LGBT parenting community along the areas of single versus two-parent households, parents who come out later in life to their children versus those who are openly raising their children, or another sub-group division. The interview script overall was able to divulge the important areas of challenges, issues and needs for this group, however in use, the three questions revolving around barriers in particular were problematic. The wording of the questions was somewhat unclear, and overall they were not very successful in identifying barriers to resources. Furthermore facia-review by two advisors to this study was the only pre-testing on the interview script conducted prior to the interviews. The parents in this group could very well likely have not encountered barriers to the resources or needs they felt were important in raising their children. However, the overall negative responses to these questions and the clarity of these questions are problematic. Should

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


this study be replicated in some manner in the future, it is advisable to pre-test interview scripts further to identify problematic or unclear questions. CONCLUSION The sum of the experiences of the parents interviewed has important implications for public health. The redefining of how we see parents and families is foremost fundamental in how the public health community conducts research, program planning and policy work in relation to families. Within this, is the understanding that LGBT parents is a broad description of a very diverse group of individuals and family formations. LGBT families are formed in a variety of manners; represented in this study are families formed through marriages, partnerships with or without legal recognition, with children from previous heterosexual relationships, children adopted by one parent, raised in a single parent household, or raised in two-parent households, and children born by one parent and co-parented by a partner. With this diversity brings different challenges, issues and needs to each group. In order to best meet the needs within each of these groups through public health programs, further research should be conducted that is both inclusive of lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender parents, and the different sub-groups within the LGBT population. Inclusivity of gay, bisexual and transgender parents is especially important given the overall paucity of research that has been conducted with these groups in years past. Further research in the areas of access to social support for different sub-groups of LGBT parents and families with a geographic element should be conducted. Research dealing with social support and how it related to emotional health of parents would be of particular interest to public health.

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


In respect to parents who come out later in life, understanding the impact of divorce and disclosure should be investigated to understand the effects on the family and possible interventions that may help mediate and improve the overall transition. To conclude this research, the LGBT parents in this study offered other parents these words of advice: Sam on transitioning your family; “And I’ve said that thing that I’ve said to you, I’ve said to many people, remember its going to be hard for your kids but it doesn’t mean its going to be bad for your kids. And you have to be, I mean you’ve got to be 110 percent positive about every single change that your making and every single thing that your showing to them. Because it shows them confidence in your decisions, it shows them you’re not afraid, it shows them that your solid enough that they can depend on you.” Brittany on becoming a parent; “Nobody should make the choice to be a parent without thinking about the consequences, because its for life. Its not like the latest accessory. And I think all people should think about it carefully, and in particular for gay people, I would say, also, you are worthy! And if you want to be a parent, be a parent. Take this decision very seriously, but you are worthy and you shouldn’t think your not.” Kristin on confronting your fears; “I always wanted to do it, but I didn’t know how it could be out here, with all these messages about is it good to bring a child in that kind of things, he’s going to persecuted, he’s going to be made fun of at school. And actually considered how much in my life I would have to deal with that, and would I feel guilty about it, and I decided that instead of having the world change me, I would go out and try to change the world. And so I would just encourage everybody to go out and change their world”. Adam on being a parent; “I guess my advice would be just to trust your instincts as a parent, whether your gay or straight. Just, you got instincts that God gave you to be that parent, and you’ve got to listen to those, and not necessarily listen to those, that you’ve read in the media or the perceptions that society has put on you. Just really listen to your own instincts, and know you’re a good parent, and listen to that.”

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


CHART A Demographic characteristics of participants and child, relationship, and LGBT disclosure information.
Gender & Race female Black/African American male – white Sexuality # of Children & Ages Relationship with Child (Children) Residency of Child (Children) Parent in a Relationship, relationship duration Partner of 10 years or more, living and raising child together. Married, wife living separately in assisted living Partner of six months or less and living together Married to wife of ten or more years, not living together. Living with same-sex partner LGBT disclosure to children*

Cait Logan

lesbian bi-sexual







1, 3 years 2, 28 years, 22 years 4, 24 year, 23 years, 19 years, 17 years 5, deceased, 33 years, 26 years, 25 years, 24 years

Adopted Biological

Lives with her full-time Lives with him full-time Joint custody–less than half of the time

Raising child openly as a lesbian Unknown


Disclosed sexuality to family later in life




1, 9 years

Biological Adopted biological child of her partner

no longer live at home with either parent

Disclosed his sexuality to family later and life

Tara Brittany Adam

Transgender MTF – Asian Female-white Male-white

Bi-sexual Lesbian Bi-sexual

2, 32 years, 10 years 1, 13 years 2, 18 years, 11 years 5, 15 years, 11years, 6years, 4 years, 3 years

Biological Co-Adoption Biological 4 children adopted, 1 biological child

full-time Oldest child no longer lives at home, younger child she has joint custody –less than half of the time Lives with her full-time Joint custody–less than half of the time

Married to partner of ten yeas or more, raising child together

Raising child openly as a lesbian

Single Partner of 10 years or more, living and raising child together. Partner of 3 to 5 years, living separately.

Raising youngest son openly as a transgendered parent. Unknown about sexuality or disclosure for eldest child. Raising child openly as a lesbian Disclosed sexuality to family later in life


Ben Stacy

Female- white MaleBlack/African American Female –white Female – more than one race Transgender FTM – white


Lives with her full-time


Raising children openly as a lesbian

Gay Lesbian

1, 4 years 2, 3 years, 1 year

Adopted Biological

Lives with him full time Lives with her full-time

Single Partner of 10 years or more, living and raising child together. Partner of 1 to 3 years, living and raising the child together Partner of 1 to 3 years living separately

Raising child openly as gay Raising children openly as a lesbian

Amanda Sam

Lesbian Lesbian

1, 5 years 2, 15 years, 12 years

Biological Biological

Lives with her full-time Lives with her full-time

Raising child openly as a lesbian Disclosed sexuality/gender identity to family later and life

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


* Note this information was not gathered as part of the online demographic questionnaire, but through information gathered in the interview process. The two categories of disclosure reported were ‘Raising child (children) openly as LGBT’ or ‘disclosed sexuality later in life’. Raising child openly was categorized by participants who made statements about living openly with child, described themselves as being out to their children, and/or stated having discussions with child about family configuration. Those parents categorized as ‘disclosed sexuality later in life’ all described experiences of disclosing sexuality and/or transgender status with children who were before unaware of their parents sexuality as being anything but heterosexual and/or their gender being anything but their outward gender expression.

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


Chart B Variability of LGBT Parents and Families
Children from Mixed Sex Realtionship Children From Current Relationship Not from any Previous Relationship Tiffany four adoptive children and one biological child. ** Ben, gay adoptive father of one.**


Single-Parent Both Parents have Parenting Rights Only one Parent has Legal Parenting Rights

Beth, lesbian mother of one. Adopted biological child of her partner.** Brittany, co-adoption of one child with her partner.** Cait, lesbian adoptive mother of one. Partner was unable to adopt in the state where adoption occurred.**

Partnered Parent

Single Parent

Sam, FTM, divorced lesbian mother of two.* Tara, MTF divorced mother of two.** Adam, bisexual father of two, divorced.*

Logan, parent of two. Wife is in assisted living.***

Tiffany with one biological child and with four adoptive children.**

Both Parents have Parenting Rights

Partnered Parent

Jon, bisexual divorced father of four.* Amanda, lesbian mother of one from a mixed sex relationship. Father & Amanda have parental rights, Amanda's partner does not have rights.** Stacy, two children, partner unable to adopt in the state they live in.**


George, gay father of five, currently married to wife & has a partner.*

Only one Parent has Legal Parenting Rights

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


* Came out later in life to family and/or children **Raising child openly as LGBT ***Disclosure status unknown.

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


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Bos,Henny M. W.;Van Balen,Frank;Van Den Boom,Dymphna C. (2007). Child Adjustment and Parenting in Planned Lesbian-Parent Families. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 77(1), 38-48. Bozett (1988). Social Control of identity by children of gay fathers. Western journal of Nursing research, 1988, , 550-566. Brodzinsky,David M.;Patterson,Charlotte J.;Vaziri,Mahnoush (2002). Adoption Agency Perspectives on Lesbian and Gay Prospective Parents: A National Study. Adoption Quarterly, 5, 5-23. Brooks,Devon;Goldberg,Sheryl (2001). Gay and Lesbian Adoptive and Foster Care Placements: Can They Meet the Needs of Waiting Children?. Social work, 46(4), 147-157. Chabot, J. & Ames, B. (2004). "It wasn't 'let's get pregnany and go do it':" Decision Making in Lesbian Couples Planning Motherhood via Donor Insemination. Family Relations, 53(4), 348-356. Chan, Patterson, Raboy (1998). Psychosocial adjustment among children conceived via donor insemination by lesbian and heterosexual mothers. Child Development, 69, 443-457-n=5 lesbian heade families n=25 heterosexual families (mixed couples and single in both groups). Chan, R. W., Brooks, R.C., Raboy, B., & Patterson, C.J. (1998). Division of labor among lesbian and heterosexual parents: Associations with children's adjustment. Journal of Family Psychology, 12, 402419. Chrisp,Jill (2001). That Four Letter Word-Sons: Lesbian Mothers and Adolescent Sons. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 5, 195-209. Ciano-Boyce,Claudia;Shelley-Sireci,Lynn (2002). Who is Mommy Tonight? Lesbian Parenting Issues. Journal of homosexuality, 43, 1-13. Clarke,Victoria (2002). Sameness and difference in research on lesbian parenting. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 12, 210-222. Clarke,Victoria;Kitzinger,Celia (2005). ';We're not Living on Planet Lesbian': Constructions of Male Role Models in Debates about Lesbian Families. Sexualities, 8, 137-152. Clarke,Victoria;Kitzinger,Celia;Potter,Jonathan (2004). 'Kids are just cruel anyway': Lesbian and gay parents' talk about homophobic bullying. British Journal of Social Psychology, 43(12), 531-550. Connolly,Catherine (2002). The Voice of the Petitioner: The Experiences of Gay and Lesbian Parents in Successful Second-Parent Adoption Proceedings. Law & Society Review, 36, 325-346. Crawford, I., McLeod, A., Zamboni, B.D. & Jordon, M.B. (1999). Psychologists' attitudes toward gay and lesbian parenting. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 30, 394-401. Crawford,Isiaah;Solliday,Elizabeth (1996). The attitudes of undergraduate college students toward. Journal of homosexuality, 30, 63-77.
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Crespi,Lee (2001). And Baby Makes Three: A Dynamic Look at Development and Conflict in Lesbian Families. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Psychotherapy, 4, 7-29. Crosbie-Burnett,Margaret;Helmbrecht,Lawrence (1993). A Descriptive Empirical Study of Gay MaleStepfamilies. Family Relations, 42(7), 256-262. Dalton,Susan E.;Bielby,Denise D. (2000). That's our Kind of Constellation. Gender & Society, 14(2), 36-61. DeMino, K. A. (2007). Lesbian Mothers with Planned Families: A Comparative Study of Internalized Homophobia and Social Support. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 77(1), 165-173. Donaldson,Christa (2000). Midlife Lesbian Parenting. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 11, 119-138. Donaldson, Evan B. (2006). Adoption Institute Expanding Resources for Children: Is Adoption by Gays and Lesbians Part of the Answer for Boys and Girls who Need Homes? Policy Perspective. The Gill Foundation and the Human Rights Campaign.. Downs,A. Chris;James,Steven E. (2006). Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Foster Parents: Strengths and Challenges for the Child Welfare System. Child welfare, 85, 281-298. Dundas,Susan;Kaufman,Miriam (2000). The Toronto Lesbian Family Study. Journal of homosexuality, 40, 65-80. Erich,Stephen;Leung,Patrick;Kindle,Peter;Carter,Sharon (2005). Gay and Lesbian Adoptive Families: An Exploratory Study of Family Functioning, Adoptive Child' s Behavior, and Familial Support Networks. Journal of Family Social Work, 9, 17-32. Equality from State to State: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Americans and State Legislation. Human Rights Campaign Foundation, 2006 Feinauer,Leslie;Patterson,Terence (1992). Relationship quality in a sample of lesbian couples with children and child-free lesbian couples. American Journal of Family Therapy, 20, 374-374. Flaks,David K.;Ficher,Ilda (1995). Lesbians choosing motherhood: A comparative study of lesbian and heterosexual.. Developmental psychology, 31(1), 105-114. Floyd,Kory (2001). Human Affection Exchange: I. Reproductive Probability as a Predictor of Men's Affection with Their Sons. Journal of Men's Studies, 10(2001///Fall), 39-50. Fredriksen,Karen I. (1999). Family Caregiving Responsibilities among Lesbians and Gay Men. Social work, 44(3), 142-155.

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


Freedman,David;Tasker,Fiona;Di Ceglie,Domenico (2002). Children and Adolescents with Transsexual Parents Referred to a Specialist Gender Identity Development Service: A Brief Report of Key Developmental Features. Clinical Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 7, 423-432. Fulcher,Megan;Chan,Raymond W.;Raboy,Barbara;Patterson,Charlotte J. (2002). Contact With Grandparents Among Children Conceived Via Donor Insemination by Lesbian and Heterosexual Mothers. Parenting: Science & Practice, 2, 61-76. Gabb,Jacqui (2004). Sexuality education: how children of lesbian mothers 'learn' about sex/uality. Sex Education, 4(4), 19-34. Gabb,Jacqui (2004). Critical Differentials: Querying the Incongruities within Research on Lesbian parent Families. Sexualities, 7, 167-182. Gabb,Jacqui (2005). Lesbian M/Otherhood: Strategies of Familial- linguistic Management in Lesbian Parent Families. Sociology, 39, 585-603. Gartrell, N., Banks, A., Reed, N., Hamilton, J., Rodas, C., & Deck, A. (2000). The National Lesbian Family Study: 3. Interviews with mothers of five-year-olds. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 70(4), 542-548. Gartrell, N., Deck, A., Rodas, C., Peyser, H., & Banks, A. (2005). The National Lesbian Family Study: 4. Interviews with the 10-year-old children. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 75(4), 518-524. Gartrell, N., Hamilton, J., Banks, A., Mosbacher, D., Reed, N., Sparks, C.H., & Bishop, H. (1996). The National Lesbian Family Study: 1. Interviews with prospective mothers. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 66(2), 272-281. Gartrell,N. Banks,A., Hamilton, J., Reed, N., Bishop, H., & Rodas, C. (1999). The National Lesbian Family Study: 2. Interviews with mothers of toddlers. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 69, 362369. Gershon, T.D., Tschann, J.M., & Jemerin, J.M. (1999). Stigmatization, self-esteem, and coping among the adolescent children of lesbian mothers. Journal of Adolescent Health, 24, 437-445. Goldberg,Abbie E. (2007). Talking About Family: Disclosure Practices of Adults Raised by Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Parents. Journal of Family Issues, 28, 100-131. Goldberg,Aerie E.;Allen,Katherine R. (2007). Imagining Men: Lesbian Mothers Perceptions of Male Involvement During the Transition to Parenthood. Journal of Marriage & Family, 69(5), 352-365. Golding,A. Cassandra (2006). Redefining the Nuclear Family: An Exploration of Resiliency in Lesbian Parents. Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, 18, 35-65.

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


Golombok, S., Tasker, F.L., & Murray, C. (1997). Children raised in fatherless families from infancy: Family realtionships and the socioemotional development of children of lesbian and single heterosexual mothers. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 38, 783-791. Golombok,Susan;Perry,Beth;Burston,Amanda;Murray,Clare;MooneySomers,Julie;Stevens,Madeleine;Golding,Jean (2003). Children With Lesbian Parents: A Community Study. Developmental psychology, 39(1), 20-33. Golombok,Susan;Spencer,Ann;Rutter,Michael (1983). Children in Lesbian and Single-Parent Households: Psychosexual and Psychiatric Appraisal. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry & Allied Disciplines, 24, 551-572. Golombok,Susan;Tasker,Fiona (1996). Do parents influence the sexual orientation of their children? Findings from a longitudinal study of lesbian families. Developmental psychology, 32(1), 3-11. Green, R. (1978). Sexual Identity of 37 Chlildren Raised by Homosexual or Transsexual Parents. American Journal of Psychiatry, 135(6), 692-697. Green, R., Mandel, J.B., Hotvedt, M., Gray, J., & Smith, L. (1986). Lesbian mothers and their children: A comparison with solo parent heterosexual mothers and their children. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 7, 175-181. Greenfeld, D.A. (2005). Reproduction in same sex couples: quality of parenting and child development. Current opinion in obstetrics & gynecology, 17, 309-312. Haack-Møller, A. & Møhl, H. (1984). Children of lesbian mothers. Dansk Psykolog Nyt, 38, 316-318. Hall, M (1978). Lesbian Families: Cultural and Clinical Issues. Social Work, , 380-385. Hare,Jan;Richards,Leslie (1993). Children Raised by Lesbian Couples. does Context of Birth Affect Father and Partner Involvement?. Family Relations, 42(7), 249-255. Harris,Mary B.;Turner,Pauline H. (1985). Gay and Lesbian Parents. Journal of Homosexuality, 12, 101-113. Hee-sook Choi;Thul,Candrice A.;Berenhaut,Kenneth S.;Suerken,Cynthia K.;Norris,James L. (2005). Survey of School Psychologists' Attitudes, Feelings, and Exposure to Gay and Lesbian Parents and Their Children. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 22, 87-107. Hequembourg,Amy (2004). Unscripted motherhood: Lesbian mothers negotiating incompletely institutionalized family relationships. Journal of Social & Personal Relationships, 21, 739-740. Hicks,Stephen (2005). Queer Genealogies: Tales of Conformity and Rebellion amongst Lesbian and Gay Foster Carers and Adopters. Qualitative Social Work, 4, 293-308.

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


Hines,Sally (2006). Intimate Transitions: Transgender Practices of Partnering and Parenting. Sociology, 40(4), 353-371. Hoeffer, B. (1981). Children's Acquisition of sex-role behavior in lesbian-mother families. American Journall of Orthopsychiatry, 5, 536-544. Huggins,Sharon L. (1989). A Comparative Study of Self-Esteem of Adolescent Children of Divorced Lesbian Mothers and Divorced Heterosexual Mothers. Journal of homosexuality, 18, 123-135. Javaid, G.A. (1993). Children of homosexual and heterosexual single mothers. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 23, 235-248. Kenagy,Gretchen P.;Hsieh,Chang-Ming (2005). Gender Differences in Social Service Needs of Transgender People. Journal of Social Service Research, 31, 1-22. Kenyon,GailL.;Chong,Kerry-Ann;Enkoff-Sage,Melanie; Hill,Clifton; Mays,Carrie; Rochelle, Lauren (2003). Public Adoption by Gay and Lesbian Parents in North Carolina: Policy and Practice. Families in Society, 84, 571-575. Kindle,Peter A.;Erich,Stephen (2005). Perceptions of Social Support Among Heterosexual and Homosexual Adopters. Families in Society, 86, 541-546. King, B.R. & Black, K.N. (1999). College students' perceptual stigmatization of the children of lesbian mothers. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 69, 220-227. Kirkpatrick, M, Smith, C, & Roy, R. (1981). Lesbian mothers and their children: A comparative survey. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 51, 545-551. Kranz,Karen C.;Daniluk,Judith C. (2006). Living Outside of the Box: Lesbian Couples with Children Conceived Through the Use of Anonymous Donor Insemination. Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, 18, 1-33. Kweskin, S.L. & Cook, A.S. (1982). Heterosexual and homosexual mothers' self-described sex-role behavior and ideal sex-role behavior in chlildren. Sex Roles, 8, 967-975. Larsen,Knud S.;Serra,Matt;Long,Ed (1990). AIDS Victims and Heterosexual Attitudes. Journal of homosexuality, 19, 103-116. Lassiter, P.S.; Dew, B.J.; Newton, K.; Hays, D.G.; Yarbrough, B. (2006) Self-defined empowerment for Gay and Lesbian Parents: A Qualitative Examination. The Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families 14(3), 245-252. Leung,Patrick;Erich,Stephen;Kanenberg,Heather (2005). A comparison of family functioning in gay/lesbian, heterosexual and special needs adoptions. Children & Youth Services Review, 27, 10311044.

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


Lewis, K.G. (1980). Children of lesbians: Their point of view. Social Work, 25, 198-203. Litovich,Marianna L.;Langhout,Regina Day (2004). Framing heterosexism in lesbian families: a preliminary examination of resilient coping1Parts of this paper were presented as a poster for the New England Psychological Association annual conference (October, 2002), Nashua, New.. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 14(11), 411-435. Lott-Whitehead, L., & Tully, C.T. (1993). The family livs of lesbian mohters. Smith College Studies in Social Work, 63, 265-280. Lynch, J.M. (2000). Considerations of Family Structure and Gender Composition: The Lesbian and Gay Stepfamilly. Journal of Homosexuality, 40(2), 81-95. Lyons, T.A. (1983). Lesbian mothers' custody fears. Women and Therapy, 2, 231-240. M.-Mar Gonzlez; Ester Morcillo;M.-ngeles Snchez;Fernando Chacn (2004). Psychological adjustment and social integration of children from gay-lesbian families. Infancia y Aprendizaje, 27(9), 327-343. MacCallum,Fiona;Golombok,Susan (2004). Children raised in fatherless families from infancy: a follow-up of children of lesbian and single heterosexual mothers at early adolescence. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 45(11), 1407-1419. Marchesani,C.;McLaren,S.;McLachlan,A. J. (2003). Parents? You are kidding!. Australian Journal of Psychology, 55, 194-194. Mason Bergen,Karla;Suter,Elizabeth A.;Daas,Karen L. (2006). About as Solid as a Fish Net: Symbolic Construction of a Legitimate Parental Identity for Nonbiological Lesbian Mothers. Journal of Family Communication, 6(7), 201-220. McCandlish, B.M. (1987). Against all odds: Lesbian mother family dynamics. In F.W. Bozett (Ed.) Gay and Lesbian parents., London(Praeger), 23-36. Mercier,Lucy R.;Harold,Rena D. (2003). At the Interface: Lesbian-Parent Families and Their Children's Schools. Children & Schools, 25(1), 35-47. McLeod, A.C., Crawford, I., & Zechmeisters, J. (1999). Heterosexual undergraduates attitides toward gay fathers and thie children. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 11, 43-62. McNair,Ruth;Dempsey,Deborah;Wise,Sarah;Perlesz,Amaryll (2002). Lesbian parenting. Family Matters,63, 40-49. Miall,Charlene E.;March,Karen (2005). Social Support for Changes in Adoption Practice: Gay Adoption, Open Adoption, Birth Reunions, and the Release of Confidential Identifying Information. Families in Society, 86, 83-92. Miller, B. (1979). Gay fathers and their children. Family Coordinator, October, 544-552.
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Millers, J.A., Jacobsen, R.B., & Bigner, J.J. (1981). The child's home environment for lesbian versus heterosexual mothers; A neglected area of research. Journal of Homosexuality, 7, 49-56. Mistry, R.M., Stevens, G.D., Sareen, H., De Vogil, R, Halfon, N. (2007). Parenting-related Stressors and Self-Repored Mental Health of Mohters with Young Children. American Journal of Public Health, 97(7), 1261-1286. Morris, J.F., Balsam, K.F., & Rothblum, E.D. (2002). Lesbian and bisexual mothers and non-mothers: Demographics and the coming out process. Journal of Family Psychology, 16, 144-156. Morton,Susan B. (1998). Lesbian divorce. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 68(7), 410-419. Mucklow, B.M., & Phelan, G.K. (1979). Lesbian and traditional mothers' responses to child behavior and self concept. Psychological Reports, 44, 880-882. Murray,Paul D.;McClintock,Karen (2005). Children of the Closet: A Measurement of the Anxiety and Self-Esteem of Children Raised by a Non-Disclosed Homosexual or Bisexual Parent. Journal of Hmosexuality, 49, 77-95. O'Connell, A. (1993). Voices from the heart: The development impact of a mother's lesbianism on her adolescent children. Smith College Studies in Social Work, 63, 281-299. Pagelow, M.D. (1980). Heterosexual and lesbian single mothers: A comparision of problems, coping, and solutions. Journal of Homosexuality, 5, 198-204. Patterson, C.J. (1994). Children of the lesbian baby boom. In Reene, B. & Herek, G.M. (Eds) Lesbian and gay psychology: Theory, research, and clinical applications., London(Sage Publichations), 156175. Patterson,Charlotte J. (1995). Families of the lesbian baby boom: Parents' division of labor and children's adjustment. Developmental psychology, 31(1), 115-123. Patterson,Charlotte J.;Glazer,Deborah F.;Drescher,Jack (2001). Families of the Lesbian Baby Boom: Maternal Mental Health and Child Adjustment. Gay & Lesbian Parenting, 91-107. Patterson,Charlotte J.;Hurt,Susan;Mason,Chandra D. (1998). Families of the lesbian baby boom: Children's contact with grandparents and other adults. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 68(7), 390-399. Patterson,Charlotte J.;Sutfin,Erin L.;Fulcher,Megan (2004). Division of Labor Among Lesbian and Heterosexual Parenting Couples: Correlates of Specialized Versus Shared Patterns. Journal of Adult Development, 11(7), 179-189.

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


Pawelski, J., Perrin E., Foy J., Allen C., Crawford, J., Del Monte, M., Kaufman J., Smith, K., Springer, S., Tanner, J., Vickers, D. (2006). The Effects of Marriage, Civil Union, and Domestic Partnership Laws on the Health and Well-Being of Children. Pediatrics, 118, 349-364. Peterson,Lee M.;Butts,Jeff;Deville,Douglas M. (2000). Parenting Experiences of Three Self-Identified Gay Fathers. Smith College Studies in Social Work, 70(6), 513-521. Perrin,Ellen C.;Kulkin,Heidi (1996). Pediatric care for children whose parents are gay or lesbian. Pediatrics, 97(5), 629-635. Perrin, E. and the Committee of Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health (2006). Technical Report: Coparent or Second-Parent Adoption by Same-Sex Parents. Pediatrics, 109, 341-344. Rand, C., Grahma, D.L.R., & Rawlings, E.I. (1982). Psychological health and factors the court seeks to control in lesbian mother custody trials. Journal of Homosexuality, 8, 27-39. Reimann,Renate (1997). Does Biology Matter?: Lesbian Couples' Transition to Parenthood and Their Division of Labor. Qualitative Sociology, 20(6), 153-185. Ridge,Stacy R.;Feeney,Judith A. (1998). Relationship history and relationship attitudes in gay males and lesbians: attachment style and.. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 32(12), 848859. Ross,Lori E.;Steele,Leah S.;Epstein,Rachel (2006). Lesbian and bisexual women’s recommendations for improving the provision of assisted reproductive technology services. Fertility & Sterility, 86(9), 735-738. Ross,Michael W.;Arrindell,Willem A. (1988). Perceived Parental Rearing Patterns of Homosexual and Heterosexual Men. Journal of sex research, 24(1), 275-281. Ryan,Scott D. (2000). Examining Social Workers' Placement Recommendations of Children with Gay and Lesbian Adoptive Parents. Families in Society, 81, 517-517. Ryan-Flood, R. (2005). Contested Heteronormativities: Discourses of Fatherhood among Lesbian Parents in Sweden and Ireland. Sexualities, 8(4), 189-204. Ryan, S., Pearlmutter, S.,Groza, V. (2004). Coming Out of the Closet: Opening Agencies to Gay and Lesbian Adoptive Parents. Social Work, 49, 85-95. Shelley-Sireci,Lynn M.;Ciano-Boyce,Claudia (2002). Becoming Lesbian Adoptive Parents: An Exploratory Study of Lesbian Adoptive, Lesbian Birth, and Heterosexual Adoptive Parents. Adoption Quarterly, 6, 33-43. Short,Liz (2007). Lesbian Mothers Living Well in the Context of Heterosexism and Discrimination: Resources, Strategies and Legislative Change. Feminism & Psychology, 17, 57-74.

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents


Siegenthaler, A.L. & Bigner, J.J. (2000). The value of children to lesbian and non-lesbian mothers. Journal of Homosexuality, 39, 73-91. Skeen,Patsy;Robinson,Bryan E. (1985). Gay Fathers' and Gay Nonfathers' Relationship with their Parents. Journal of sex research, 21(2), 86-91. Slater,S.;Mencher,J. (1991). The lesbian family life cycle: A contextual approach. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 61(7), 372-382. Small,Stephen A.;Eastman,Gay (1991). Rearing Adolescents in Contemporary Society: A Conceptual Framework for Understanding the Responsibilities and Needs of Parents. Family Relations, 40(10), 455-462. Smith, David M., Gates, Gary, J. (2001). Gay and Lesbian Families in the United States; Same-Sex Unmarried Partner Households: A Preliminary Analysis of 2000 United States Census Data. The Urban Institute, Human Rights Campaign, Washington, D.C. Steckel, A. (1987). Psychosocial devlopment of children of lesbian mothers. In F.W. Bozett (Ed.) Gay and Lesbian parents., New York(Praeger), 75-85. Stein, M., Perrin, E., Potter, J. (2004). A Difficult Adjustment to School: The Importance of Family Constellation. Pediatrics, 114, 1464-1467. Stevens,Madeleine;Golombok,Susan;Beveridge,Michael (2002). Does Father Absence Influence Children's Gender Development? Findings From a General Population Study of Preschool Children. Parenting: Science & Practice, 2, 47-60. Sullivan,Maureen (1996). ROZZIE AND HARRIET? Gender and Family Patterns of Lesbian Coparents. Gender & Society, 10(12), 747-767. Tasker, F. & Golombok, S. (1997). Growing up in a lesbian family. New York(Guilford Press). Tasker,F. & Golombok,S. (1997). Young people's attitudes toward living in a lesbian family: A longitudinal study of children.. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 28, 183-202. Tasker,F. & Golombok,S. (1998). The Role of Co-Mothers in Planned Lesbian-Led Families. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 2, 49-68. Tasker,F. & Golombok,S. (1995). Adults raised as children in lesbian families. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 65(4), 203-215. Touroni,E. & Coyle, A. (2002). Decision-making in planned lesbian parenting: an interpretative phenomenological analysis. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 12, 194-209. Tyebjee,Tyzoon (2003). Attitude, Interest, and Motivation for Adoption and Foster Care. Child Welfare, 82, 685-706.
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Vanfraussen,K.;Ponjaert-Kristoffersen,I.;Brewaeys,A. (2002). What does it mean for youngsters to grow up in a lesbian family created by means of donor insemination?. Journal of Reproductive & Infant Psychology, 20, 237-252. Vanfraussen,Katrien;Ponjaert-Kristoffersen,Ingrid;Brewaeys,Anne (2003). Family Functioning in Lesbian Families Created by Donor Insemination. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 73(1), 78-90. Vescio,Theresa K.;Biernat,Monica (2003). Family Values and Antipathy Toward Gay Men. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 33(4), 833-847. Wainright, J., Russell, S. Patterson, C. (2004). Psychosocial Adjustment, School Outcomes, and Romantic Relationships of Adolescents with Same-Sex Parents. Child Devlopment, 75(6), 1886-1898. Wainright,Jennifer L.;Patterson,Charlotte J. (2006). Delinquency, Victimization, and Substance Use Among Adolescents With Female Same-Sex Parents. Journal of Family Psychology, 20(9), 526-530. White,Tonya;Ettner,Randi (2004). Disclosure, Risks and Protective Factors for Children Whose Parents Are Undergoing a Gender Transition. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Psychotherapy, 8, 129-145. White,Tonya;Ettner,Randi (2007). Adaptation and adjustment in children of transsexual parents. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 215-221. Wyers,Norman L. . Homosexuality in the Family: Lesbian and Gay Spouses. Social Work, 32, 143148.

Melissa Noyes, Special Project, Maternal and Child Health Parents Speak Out: Qualitative interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents