A groundbreaking new report released Tuesday reveals that nearly two million children have become collateral damage of decades of ideology, laws and policies designed to marginalize lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans.
The report — All Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequalities Hurt LGBT Families — offers the most complete portrait to date of LGBT families in the U.S.—and paints a vivid picture of how antiquated and discriminatory laws fail and hurt children with LGBT parents.
“All children matter, and we need our laws to affirm this,” said Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Council, one of the three groups authoring the report.
The other groups are the liberal Center for American Progress and the Movement Advancement Project, a gay-rights think tank. Among other participants in the project were the National Association of Social Workers and the Child Welfare League of America. The groups have prepared this video overview of their findings:
The report takes a detailed look at how children with LGBT parents are failed by society, government, and the law.
“Many Americans don’t realize how anti-gay laws and policies hurt children,” said Jeff Krehely, director of the LGBT Communications and Research Program at the Center for American Progress.
“For example, the Supreme Court of North Carolina just invalidated all second- parent adoptions, undermining family security and leaving children as legal strangers to the LGBT parents who have raised them since birth. Similarly, when states like Minnesota and North Carolina advance ballot initiatives to deny marriage to same-sex couples, it can have serious consequences, such as denying children access to a parent’s health insurance.”
For example, current laws can:
- Deny children legal ties to both of their parents—which affects everything from custody to a parent being able to make emergency medical decisions for his or her child.
- Wrongly separate children from their parents in cases of divorce or death of a parent.
- Tie children’s access to critical federal and state safety net programs to family structure, rather than need.
- Deny children access to quality child care and early childhood education.
- Deny children Social Security survivor benefits or inheritance when a parent dies.
- Put a child’s legal ties to his or her parents in jeopardy if the family crosses state lines.
- Deny forever homes to 115,000 children awaiting adoption.
The report estimates that about two million children are being raised by LGBT parents, and that children of same-sex couples live in 96 percent of U.S. counties.
Other findings include:
- Same-sex couples living in the South are most likely to be raising children (Mississippi has the largest percentage of same-sex couples raising children).
- LGBT families are twice as likely to be living in poverty as married, opposite-sex parents with children.
- LGBT families are more racially and ethnically diverse than the population as a whole.
- Decades of social science research show that children of gay and lesbian parents grow up to be as healthy, happy and well-adjusted as their peers. All major child health and welfare organizations support parenting and adoption by gay and lesbian parents.
“Fewer than a quarter of all US households are made up of married heterosexual couples raising their biological children, yet public policy is consistently failing those children whose families do not fit into this certain mold,” Chrisler said, in a statement.