News (USA)

Most lesbian & gay parents face negative comments about their families

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A new report by the U.K. youth charity Just Like Us has found that many schools still don’t talk openly about diverse families, resulting in what the group describes as social stigma, discrimination, and poor wellbeing for the children and parents of LGBTQ+ families.

The new research independently surveyed 1,012 LGBTQ+ parents across the U.K. and interviewed families about their experiences.

More than half (56%) of lesbian and gay parents face negative comments about their families, while forty-two percent of their kids have experienced remarks about having LGBTQ+ parents, according to the research.

“Every parent wants to send their child to school in the morning and feel reassured that they will be safe, happy, and ready to learn,” said Laura Mackay, Chief Executive of Just Like Us.

“But many LGBT+ parents are instead feeling worried, isolated and unsure whether they or their children will face hurtful and invasive comments, unfair treatment and outright discrimination simply because their family isn’t heterosexual or cisgender.”

Half of lesbian and gay parents are worried their child will be “bullied because they have LGBT+ parents” and “not be accepted” (48% and 52%, respectively), and almost a quarter (23%) say their children have felt “upset or hurt by negative comments at school about LGBT+ people.”

Nearly a quarter (24%) of those surveyed say their children have been “left out of social arrangements seemingly because they are from an LGBT+ family.”

The same number holds for lesbian moms and gay dads who “feel isolated as an LGBT+ parent” and “depressed or anxious about my LGBT+ family not fitting in or not being treated fairly.”

Those numbers are even higher for trans parents.

“As an LGBT+ parent, compiling this report has been far from reassuring,” said Amy Ashenden, Director of Communications and Engagement for the charity. “Some of the findings are harrowing.”

The report reveals that anti-trans rhetoric has seeped into some school communities. Nearly a third (30%) of transgender parents have heard negative comments about trans people at school.

Lesbian moms face invasive questions about their families, too, the report shows. Almost forty percent have been asked by “strangers” about their child’s sperm donor.

More than a third (35%) of all LGBTQ+ parents say their school refers to families as “moms and dads” as the default, while just one in five gay, lesbian, and trans parents say their school openly discusses LGBTQ+ families with pupils. 

“There is clearly so much work to be done to help schools and nurseries understand the huge impact that an inclusive – or unaccepting – school environment can have on LGBT+ families,” Ashenden added.

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