LGBTQ+ parenting can come with a variety of challenges, especially when surrounded by people that are very close-minded. There is a plethora of obstacles, from lack of social acceptance in legal settings to stigmatization in society, that LGBTQ+ parents must face in addition to just raising their children. And while it’s obvious that LGBTQ+ parents face stigmas outside of the community, it is less obvious, but equally as true, that they face stigmas within the LGBTQ+ community itself. A stable support system is just as important to LGBTQ+ parents as it is to parents who do not identify as LGBTQ+, and the lack of such a system leads to increased difficulty in raising children. The way these issues are dealt with all begins with us because we must shift the mindset of traditional parenting views and understand that family life goes far beyond the traditional norm.
Despite the many false assumptions regarding the well-being of children raised by LGBTQ+ parents, children who are raised by LGBTQ+ parents are just as happy and healthy as children who are raised by non-LGBTQ+ parents. Scott Weber’s academic article A Stigma Identification Framework for Family Nurses Working with Parents Who Are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgendered and Their Families disproves many of those misconceptions. Weber states, “Perhaps precisely because the human experience has always been marked by wide variations in family structures, it should [be] no surprise that children raised with LGBT parents have been discovered to be “normal” in terms of health, well-being, and their own eventual sexual orientations or gender identities” (Weber, 2010, pp. 382). Weber also states, “A longitudinal study of adults reared as children in lesbian-mother families found that these young men and women continued to function well in adult life” (Weber, 2010, 382).
Angharad Titlestad and Julie Ann Pooley’s Resilience in Same-Sex Parented Families: The Lived Experience of Adults with Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Parents adds more research to debunking these myths: “Despite challenges faced by these [LGBT] parents and their families, research consistently shows children raised by same-sex parents to be as psychologically healthy, and as socially and academically well-adjusted, as their peers raised in traditional heterosexual-parented families. The ability of these children to flourish despite the challenges they face highlights the resilience of this minority group.” (Titlestad & Pooley, 2014, pp. 329). These studies discredit myths that children of queer parents may not be as well-developed or happy by making obvious that children of LGBTQ+ parents can still flourish and be healthy.
Sometimes, queer individuals that wish to be parents can get distracted by the stigmas that they encounter, causing them to truly believe the myth that an LGBTQ+ parent could harm the growth of a child. As stated earlier, social norms and legal conditions truly have an impact on how we live our lives. This becomes increasingly relevant for LGBTQ+ parents and couples that aspire to be parents. The obstacles that LGBTQ+ parents face can take a toll on their well-being and their motivation to start a family.
Again, the way to overcome these obstacles depends on us as a society and as individuals. It is important that LGBTQ+ individuals support and uplift one another while all members of society outside the queer community do the same. After all, the world relies on the next generation and it would be a shame for individuals to miss out on being phenomenal parents and raising wonderful children simply because of their LGBTQ+ identity.