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Children of GLBTQ Parents  
 
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As marriage equality activists in Canada assert, Hastings' report was suppressed because it did not support the Conservative government's political stance toward same-sex marriage and glbtq parenting.

Support for GLBTQ Parenting

Data from the 2000 Census suggests a steady growth in glbtq parenting. As Cahill and Tobias point out, 46 percent of heterosexual couples are parenting, while 34 percent of lesbian couples and 22 percent of gay male couples are. This means that lesbian couples are parenting at roughly three-quarters the rate of heterosexual couples and gay male couples at half the rate.

Sponsor Message.

Researchers have also found that glbtq African Americans are raising children at higher rates than white same-sex couples. Census data from the previous two decades, along with research from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, suggests that 40 percent of African-American lesbian and bisexual women are parents, 25 percent of whom are raising their children in their homes. Fifteen percent of African-American gay or bisexual men are fathers, with 4 percent of them living with their children.

Perhaps surprisingly, children of glbtq parents are more prevalent in rural and Southern states, which, as Cahill and Tobias note, are also the areas most hostile legally to glbtq individuals and families. Advocates for these children continue to publicize this basic message: "family structure is not a strong determinant of a child's well-being, and lesbian and gay parents can raise children as well as heterosexual parents can."

In contrast to those conservative organizations and individuals who continue to lobby against glbtq parenting, national organizations that advocate on behalf of children have highlighted the research on same-sex parenting in their attempts to defend the best interests of the children in these families. Since 2002, a number of prominent professional organizations have publicly stated their support for glbtq parenting, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association, National Association of Social Workers in conjunction with the APA, and the American Psychoanalytic Association.

For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that "children who grow up with 1 or 2 gay and/or lesbian parents fare as well in emotional, cognitive, social and sexual functioning as do children whose parents are heterosexual."

Networks of Support

One way that children of glbtq parents and their families have found support in the face of hostility has been through creating national and local networks.

In 1979, a group of gay fathers formed the Gay Fathers Coalition, which in 1986 expanded to include lesbian mothers, and in 2007 became the Family Equality Coalition, the name change representing its goal of securing equality for all families.

In 1988, the Family Pride Coalition organized a meeting at their annual conference for children of glbtq parents. A year later, similar workshops were offered, which prompted the youth to form their own steering committee with the intent to start their own organization devoted to their own needs and interests.

COLAGE

Initially called Just for Us, the group changed its name to COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere) in 1993. At that time it produced a newsletter that reached approximately 500 families as its primary means of supporting children of glbtq families across the nation.

In 1995, COLAGE opened a national office in San Francisco with an all-volunteer staff. As the organization grew and began to incorporate children of bisexual and transgender parents into its programs, it also began to foster and support a number of local chapters, all the while preserving its youth-centered focus. It became an official non-profit in 1999 and now supports a full-time, professional staff, but COLAGE continues to address the needs of children of glbtq parents from their own perspectives. It is now the primary organization in the country that does so.

As of 2004, there were over 50 chapters in the United States, with two chapters in Canada and a chapter devoted to COLAGE members in Sweden and England. Among the services COLAGE offers are a pen pal program, leadership training for COLAGE members, advocate training for glbtq family issues, scholarships, and Second Generation, a support group/network for children of glbtq parents who are either questioning their own sexual orientation or who identify as glbtq.

One of the more important programs that COLAGE sponsors is its Speak OUT Program, which trains young people to respond to media and community requests for children of glbtq parents to share their stories with the larger public.

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