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Queer Families: the Joys, the Difficulties, the Alternatives

Families are a complicated issue for LGBT+ people. Only in the last decade or so has it even become something possible for us, although in some parts of the world (and even the US, as I’ll get into later) it’s still not possible. But with increasing social acceptance and legislative changes it’s something more and more LGBT+ people are deciding to explore.

63% of LGBT+ millennials are considering expanding their families either by becoming parents for the first time or by having more children and the gap between LGBT+ people and non-LGBT+ people is narrower then ever before: 48% of LGBT+ millennials are actively planning to grow their families, compared to 55% of non-LGBT+ millennials.

Looking forwards, a quite-staggering 33% of Gen Z identify as LGBT+. There are about to be a whole lot more queer parents.

So it’s clear that this is something on a lot of people’s minds, but there are a lot of challenges still to go. For one thing it’s often not as simple as it is for non-LGBT+ people to start a family. Common routes used by LGBT+ people include adoption, surrogacy, and IVF but these are all expensive, time consuming and emotionally draining activities that not everyone has the strength and resources to go through.

Building a family

We’ve talked previously about surrogacy and the different ways to fund it, and we’re going to explore the practicalities of the other methods of building a family in the second part of this article series.

Something that’s always worth highlighting is that there are a tonne of benefits to having LGBT+ parents. Researchers found that children raised by same-sex couples had higher test scores in elementary and secondary school and were about 7 percent more likely to graduate from high school than children raised by different-sex couples. Now, take this with a grain of salt; “Same-sex couples often have to use expensive fertility treatments to have a child, meaning they are very motivated to become parents and tend to have a high level of wealth. This is likely to be a key reason their children perform well in school, the economists found.”

But even beyond this, it would probably be fair to say that having parents that have jumped through multiple hoops to have a child is going to appreciate and love that child a lot. Even being a victim of discrimination and misunderstanding by the world at large can arm you with the tools to teach others love and acceptance.

Beyond tradition

When I look to my own future, I don’t know what I see. I’m lucky to have my parents and family still very much in my life, and a wonderful chosen family as an extension of that, but I’ve never been sure about children. It’s so hard to imagine raising a child in a world that seems to get harder and harder to thrive in each day. As a trans woman who didn’t have access to fertility treatments, I’m pretty much left with the option to adopt, which is fine by me and probably what I’d do anyway. Maybe one day I’ll adopt an LGBT+ teenager in need of some love and support.

Traditional families and children are not something that everyone wants, or should feel pressured to have. The idea of the chosen family is a beautiful concept that has existed in LGBT+ culture for decades and still very much exists to this day. Ultimately, we all deserve to feel loved and cared for and chosen families are just as important in building a life that is rewarding.

 

Billie Simmons

By Billie Simmons

Co-Founder, Chief of Staff at Daylight

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