Challenges for LGBT Headed Families

Yesterday, the Center for American Progress held a briefing regarding a new report, “All Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequalities Hurt LGBT Families.” The report provides an overview of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) headed households, including who they are and where they live, and highlights the challenges facing these families. It reveals that discriminatory laws and social stigma are compromising the natural ability of these families to maintain stable, loving homes; economic security; and health and well-being. The report was released by the Center for American Progress, the Family Equality Council, and the Movement Advancement Project, in partnership with COLAGE, The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, and the National Association of Social Workers. It includes a forward by Linda Spears, CWLA’s Vice President of Policy and Public Affairs highlighting how the best interest of children is harmed by the policy gaps presented in the report.

Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler opened the briefing and described relevant policies and the shifting social context of barriers to and acceptance of those policies. Report contributors Ineke Mushovic, Executive Director of the Movement Advancement Project, and Jeff Krehely, Director of LGBT Research and Communications for the Center for American Progress  provided detail about specific laws and prevalent stigma that compromise the health and stability of LGBT headed households. Moderator, Winnie Stachelberg, Senior Vice President for External Affairs at the Center for American progress remarked on the challenge of raising children in any context, let alone the one represented in the report that LGBT families face.

Jonathan Capeheart of the Washington Post moderated a panel discussion featuring  Bryan Samuels, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Children, Youth and Families Commissioner; Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director of the Family Equality Council; and Reverend Dr. Dennis W. Wiley of Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ. Commissioner Samuels talked about the report as a great resource for child welfare directors to identify adoptive parent and support systems for adoptive parents. Chrisler pointed to the great diversity of family forms and how improved legislation could better target all untraditional families. Rev. Wiley emphasized the importance of relationships, in getting to know the families in focus and expanding our general understanding that the movement for LGBT rights is far from endangering the family, rather it is about better supporting families. The panel concluded with a call for enhanced discussion and recognition of the overall normality of LGBT families, as presented in the report, in addition to sharing the report and communicating its message with decision makers.

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