Teens raised by lesbian parents face unique stigma

lesbian parents time

Teenagers will often experience some sort of drama during their teen years. And of course, at some point, they will not like their parents. But do teenagers raised in gay and lesbian families experience different problems compared to their counterparts raised by heterosexual parents?

One study published by the Children and Youth Services Review suggests teens raised by lesbian parents suggest that some teens will report negative experiences while others will avoid the topic all together.

Teens in the study were asked how growing up in a family with ‘two mom’s or lesbian parents impacted them in school, socially with their peers, and in regular everyday situations. Mixed reactions were expressed by both the girls and boys in the study.

Results from the research indicated that approximately 78% of the 17 year olds participating in the study had experienced some sort of stigma from others when they learned they had lesbian parents.

Lesbian couples in the study were seen as ‘less than’ in terms of their status as ‘official parents’ by others. Some even went as far as to bring in religious views against the children to make them feel out of place. Here are some reactions shared by the participants:

“By sixth grade, I had moved to a different school district. I made friends with this guy and one time he came over, discovered that I had gay moms, and acted really funny about it. Then he went back to school and told all of our other friends, and then later most of our class.” (Respondent #68, boy)

“My only real encounter with homophobia was when I was researching gay and lesbian parenting in my local library. I was telling a friend of mine some stories about my family, and I guess a woman sitting next to us overheard me. At one point she got up from her table to leave, and as she walked by us she turned to me and said with a straight face ‘You are the spawn of Satan’.” (Respondent #44, girl)

“A co-worker recently said that something was ‘gay’ and I told him that he couldn’t say that around me, or I would stop talking to him. I said that it was immature and I didn’t like it. He is aware that I have two moms and I’m still not sure why he feels he has to use gay as a derogatory term.”(Respondent #53, girl)

Interestingly the article starts out by stating that over 2 million children currently live in ‘alternative’ families, meaning they do not live with the traditional ‘mom and dad’ model. Instead they are being raised by single parents, or parents who fit into the gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (GLBT) community.

What does this stay about how the idea of family is changing in the United States? Why does stigma continue to take place against children if family is such a fluid concept? How can things change to improve how children raised by lesbian parents are treated by society?

Sources: UCLA (William Institute)

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