A new report has revealed how two million children have become collateral damage of decades of ideology, laws and policies designed to hurt lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans.
All Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequalities Hurt LGBT Families offers the most complete portrait to date of LGBT families in the US — and paints a vivid picture of how antiquated and discriminatory laws fail and hurt children with LGBT parents.
The report brings together a coalition of LGBT leaders, policy experts and child advocates — with a foreword by the Child Welfare League of America.
“All children matter, and we need our laws to affirm this,” said Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Council.
“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.”
According to the report, about two million children are being raised by LGBT parents in the US. The report also found:
â€¢ LGBT families are twice as likely to be living in poverty as married, opposite-sex parents with children.
â€¢ LGBT families are more racially and ethnically diverse than the population as a whole.
Despite these challenges, 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.
“Our nation’s laws and policies simply have not kept pace with the changing reality of America’s families,” said Ineke Mushovic, executive director of the Movement Advancement Project.
The study’s’ authors said that many people don’t realize how anti-gay laws and policies hurt children. Current laws can, for example:
â€¢ 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.
â€¢ Wrongly separate children from their parents in cases of divorce or death of a parent.
â€¢ Tie children’s access to critical federal and state safety net programs to family structure, rather than need.
â€¢ Deny children access to quality child care and early childhood education.
â€¢ Deny children Social Security survivor benefits or inheritance when a parent dies.
â€¢ Put a child’s legal ties to his or her parents in jeopardy if the family crosses state lines.
â€¢ Deny homes to 115,000 children awaiting adoption.
The report outlines more than 100 state and federal policy recommendations that its authors say would virtually eliminate the legal inequities that hurt children with LGBT parents.