For as long as people have understood themselves as gay, gay people have parented their children. In the past, however, homosexual parents often shielded themselves and their children from scrutiny by publicly concealing their sexual orientation.
By the end of the twentieth century, an estimated six to ten million gay and lesbian parents in the United States were raising six to fourteen million children, often in openly recognized gay families.
Most of these children were born to heterosexually married parents, one or both of whom later came out as gay or lesbian. Some were born to single gay men or lesbians.
An increasing number, however, were born to same-sex couples living together in long-term partnerships. The sharp rise in same-sex couples having children in the late twentieth century was celebrated as a "gayby boom," yet these couples faced many challenges to creating and protecting their families.
Bystudies of children raised in same-sex families were fueled by growing interest in parenting by gays and lesbians, increasing attention to the phenomenon of same-sex parenting in the culture at large, and a College hookup gay parents statistics definitions dictionary of custody cases involving gay and lesbian parents. Until the late s, most psychological and sociological research of these children aimed to counteract assumptions made by courts about the unfitness of gay parents.
The studies concluded that children raised by gays or lesbians do just as well in school and are as psychologically well-adjusted as children raised in comparable heterosexual families. One study by Charlotte Pattersonhowever, departed from this trend by identifying two major differences: Patterson concludes, then, that although children raised from birth by lesbians showed signs of anxiety about their difference from their peers, the substantial support that they received at home buttressed them from outside criticism and shored up their self-esteem more generally.
Researchers have noted that data on children raised by gay fathers is especially sparse. Scholars have encouraged, but rarely completed, studies that do more than dispel myths about risks to children and that explore the diversity of gay families themselves. For many years, social and legal stigma bred shame and fear among same-sex parents and their sons and daughters.
Before the rise of the American Gay Liberation Movement inonly six child custody cases involving a gay or lesbian parent dared to challenge the universal assumption that only heterosexuals were fit to raise children. As sociologist Judith Stacey points out, however, the courts' denial of parental rights to these pioneers made their cause visible. In the midst of the vigorously anti-family ideology of the early gay liberation, feminist, and lesbian-feminist movements in the United Statesgay and lesbian parents initiated over fifty custody suits in the s.
Joined by a growing number of "out" lesbians College hookup gay parents statistics definitions dictionary outside of marriage, previously married gay and lesbian parents, in the words of Judith Stacey, "level[ed] a public challenge against the reigning cultural presumption that the two terms — gay and parent — are antithetical" p.
Unfortunately, parents seeking custody of their children were often unsuccessful. Infor example, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that Sharon Bottoms was an unfit parent because she came out as a lesbian after having a child; as a result, she lost custody of her five-year-old son, Tyler. Inthe state appeals court of Florida ruled that John Ward, a convicted murderer, was a more fit parent than his lesbian ex-wife, Mary.
By the early twenty-first century, U. Nevertheless, child custody and visitation cases involve a great deal of judicial discretion and vary considerably from state to state.
Despite the obstacles, increasing numbers of same-sex couples began bringing children into their lives. Thousands of lesbian women, including several celebrities, around the country, especially in tolerant regions such as the San Francisco Bay Area, have conceived children through donor insemination DI.
Performed at home or by medical professionals, DI is the most common way that lesbian women choose to become mothers. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, rising numbers of lesbians and especially gay men began pursuing other avenues through which to have children, including surrogacy, foster parenting, and adoption. Traditional surrogacy, when a woman agrees to bear a child for another person using the father's sperm and her own or a donated egg, allows one member of a gay male couple to form a biological relationship with the resulting child.
Similarly, gestational surrogacy, when one woman carries a child conceived using her female partner's egg and donor sperm, links both partners of a female couple to the biology of their son or daughter.
In tolerant areas, alternatively, many gays and lesbians create families through foster parenting. Though Florida and New Hampshire prohibited gays and lesbians from adopting children including their foster childreninternational adoption became especially common in the s. In addition to "stranger adoption," same-sex parents rely heavily on "second-parent" or "step-parent" adoption, when one member of a couple shares the legal parentage of his or her partner's biological child with the existing legal parent.
According to Lambda Legal Defense, as ofcourts in twenty-one states College hookup gay parents statistics definitions dictionary approved second-parent adoptions by same-sex couples. Without access to this process, nonbiological parents have no legal to custody of their children.
Gay and College hookup gay parents statistics definitions dictionary parental rights in Europe by country but usually by fell short of those afforded in the United States.
Only the Netherlands provided same-sex couples all of the protections afforded by civil marriage, including adoption and custody rights. Although DenmarkNorwayGreenland, Swedenand Iceland created a new marital status for gay and lesbian people in the s and s, Lambda Legal Defense explains that these "registered partnerships" generally do not allow their beneficiaries to adopt either nonrelated or even each other's children.
In the early s, other European countries afforded neither marital nor parental rights to their gay and lesbian citizens. Since the s, gay, lesbian, and bisexual people have created dozens of local and national organizations to support and advocate for same-sex parents and their children. For example, The Sperm Bank of Californiafounded in as the nation's only nonprofit sperm bank in order to serve lesbian and bisexual women, reported in that over one thousand children had been born through their services.
California is also home to Maia Midwifery, established in to facilitate the creation of lesbian families. The National Center for Lesbian Rights has defended lesbian parental rights in court and has educated women about protecting their families from legal assault.
Reflecting the emphasis on gay families within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights movement, national organizations such as the Equal Rights Campaign added gay-parenting rights to their agendas.
In addition to resources available through organizations, popular books about conception, pregnancy, and child rearing for gay male and especially lesbian parents multiplied in the s and early s.
On top of practical and legal advice, this literature offers humor, personal reflection, and opinions about topics such as gender-conscious parenting, the role of nonbiological parents, and family formation by transgender people. Behavioral Adjustment, Self-concepts, and Sex-role Identity.
Theory, Research, and Applications, ed. In the Name of the Family: Rethinking Family Values in the Postmodern Age. National Center for Lesbian Rights. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. Retrieved November 16, from Encyclopedia.
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