Different Families

The experiences of children with lesbian and gay parents (2010)

Key findings:

How I feel about my family

  • Many children of gay parents see their families as special and different because all families are special and different. Though some feel that their families are a lot closer than other people’s families. Some children feel that their family is a bit different if they have lesbian or gay parents but this is something to celebrate, not worry about.
  • Other children do recognise that children with gay parents are less common than other sorts of families, but don’t feel this means that their families are any different to other people’s families because of it. Very young children don’t think their families are different from other people’s families at all.

How other people feel about my family

  • Most people, including friends at school, are fine about children having gay parents. They think it is a good thing, or don’t really care. When children are younger though they can be a bit confused and don’t understand that someone can have two mums or two dads because their family isn’t like that. This means they sometimes have lots of questions for children who have gay parents.
  • Sometimes other children can be mean about gay people because they have never met any gay people and don’t know much about them. Some people make judgements about what it’s like to have gay parents. They think children will have a certain type of life and not as good an upbringing. Children with gay parents can find these judgements upsetting.
  • Children with gay parents like having gay parents and wouldn’t want things to change but wish other people were more accepting.

My experience at school

  • Children with gay parents don’t like the way the word ‘gay’ is used as an insult in primary and secondary school. Some children said they try and stop people using the word in this way, but find it difficult.
  • Children say that teachers think the word ‘gay’ is a bit likea swear word and they don’t respond to anti-gay language in the same way they respond to racist language.
  • Even when children with gay parents are very young they have to answer lots of questions from their friends about their family. This makes them feel unusual.
  • Once people understand, the questions stop but they start again when children move to different classes or schools.
  • Some children with gay parents find it easy to answer these questions, but others find it annoying and uncomfortable.
  • Some of the children are worried about bullying – especially when they first go to secondary school but many children with gay parents haven’t experienced any bullying because their parents are gay.
  • But when children in primary and secondary school do experience bullying to do with having gay parents, schools aren’t always very good at doing anything about it.
  • Children with gay parents said that lesbian, gay or bisexual people or families are never mentioned in schools and they find this difficult and it makes them feel invisible.
  • Sometimes this means they don’t tell people they have gay parents. They are worried about what may happen if other children know they have gay parents. This is stressful and they wish they could tell other people about their families. Children with gay parents want their schools to talk about different families and stop homophobic bullying. This would make them feel more able to be themselves in school.

diff families

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