glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
home
arts
literature
social sciences
special features
discussion
about glbtq
   search

 
   Encyclopedia
   Discussion
 
 

   member name
  
   password
  
 
   
   Forgot Your Password?  
   
Not a Member Yet?  
   
JOIN TODAY. IT'S FREE!

 
  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy
  Copyright

 

 

 

 

 
social sciences

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-E  F-L  M-Z

     
Parenting  
 
page: 1  2  3  

Legal Issues for Planned glbtq Families

Although a pressing issue for those gay men and lesbians who decide to adopt or have children, legal rights for parents in alternative glbtq families have yet to be resolved adequately. They continue to be unpredictable and are especially elusive for non-biological parents.

Most disputes in planned glbtq families result after a break-up in which the non-biological parent wishes to retain contact with a child or when the biological father, often a gay man who has served as a sperm donor, wishes to claim his parental rights.

Sponsor Message.

In most cases, courts have consistently affirmed the biological parent's right to custody over the interests of the non-biological parent, even in cases in which the non-biological parent served as the primary caregiver. Even in a gay-friendly state such as Vermont, the State Supreme Court could find no reason that would compel a biological parent to maintain contact between her child and a non-biological, legally unrecognized parent.

Both types of claim have proven difficult for legal activists working on issues related to gay parenting. The same legal doctrine that privileges close biological ties and protects gay and lesbian biological parents from an ex-husband or ex-wife's extended family is the very same doctrine that prevents non-biological gay and lesbian parents from attaining full privileges in the event of a break-up.

Adoption and foster care have been options open to gay men and lesbians for some time in many states, even as other states have moved to restrict them. In Florida, for example, gay men and lesbians are permitted to be foster parents, but not adoptive parents. In New Hampshire, Mississippi, and Alabama, gay men and lesbians are prohibited from either foster care or adoption, while only heterosexual married couples are permitted to adopt in Utah.

In many states, however, state and adoption agencies permit adoptions by individual gay men or lesbians, but do not allow joint adoptions by gay or lesbian couples. In such states, one person of a couple frequently applies to adopt a child as an individual, leaving the other without parental rights.

In states such as California, where second-parent adoption is permitted, the second parent can eventually apply to adopt the child.

Lesbian Mothers

Lesbian mothers were among the first activists who pushed for the inclusion of parenting issues in the gay liberation movement. They gained visibility in 1972, when Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin included a chapter on lesbian mothers in their book, Lesbian/Woman. In 1973, Ms., The New York Times, and Newsweek all ran articles on lesbian mothers.

In 1974, visibility for lesbian mothers transformed into focused political activity. During that year, activists formed the Lesbian Mothers National Defense Fund (LMNDF) in Seattle to support Sandy Schuster and Madeleine Isaacson. In Philadelphia, Rosalie Davies started Custody Action for Lesbian Mothers after losing custody of her children.

Judges who rule against lesbian mothers typically rely upon homophobic and stereotypical language to justify denying them custody of their children. They tend to view homosexuality as unnatural or sinful and the idea of a lesbian parenting a child as abnormal and damaging.

In cases where the individual lesbian mother has been shown to be a competent and caring parent, judges have still denied custody for fear that a lesbian household will harm the child's social development. In certain judges' eyes, lesbianism remains such a stigma that no child could grow up happily in such an environment.

Such sentiments have motivated psychologists to study the impact a lesbian mother has on her children. From these studies there is no evidence to suggest that a lesbian mother's sexual orientation in any way harms her child. As Julie Schwartz Gottman concludes, "children of lesbian mothers do not demonstrate greater social maladjustment than children of heterosexual mothers."

In the 1980s, lesbian mothers became increasingly more visible, so much so that their decision to have children was dubbed the "lesbian baby boom." Ironically, what appears to many as a contradictory identity—lesbian and mother—has normalized and mainstreamed parts of the lesbian community. Research by Ellen Lewin shows that as lesbian mothers restructure their lives around raising children and interact with other mothers, many of them come to identify more as mothers than as lesbians.

Gay Fathers

As much as lesbian mothering may strike some as contradictory, the idea of gay fathering has been regarded as even more of an anomaly. Up until the early 1990s, very little research had been done on gay fathers, and scholars such as Gottman and Frederick Bozett suggest the reasons for this may lie in how our culture sees fathers as less important parents and gay men as anti-child or anti-family.

  <previous page   page: 1  2  3   next page>  
    
 interact  
   
Contact Us
 
Join the Discussion
 
 find 
   
Related Entries
 
More Entries by this contributor
 
A Bibliography on this Topic

 
Citation Information
 
More Entries about Social Sciences
 
   
spacer
Popular Topics:

Literature

 
Williams, Tennessee
Williams, Tennessee


Literary Theory: Gay, Lesbian, and Queer


The Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance


Romantic Friendship: Female
Romantic Friendship: Female


Feminist Literary Theory


American Literature: Gay Male, 1900-1969
American Literature: Gay Male, 1900-1969


Erotica and Pornography
Erotica and Pornography


Mishima, Yukio
Mishima, Yukio


Sadomasochistic Literature


Beat Generation
Beat Generation

 
 


 

 

This Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.

www.glbtq.com is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.