Families come in all shapes and sizes, including single parents, gay parents and children living with grandparents. Children have been brought up by gay parents in the UK for decades and it’s now easier for gay people to raise children. Whether by adoption, donor sperm, a surrogate, or children from a previous relationship, lots of same-sex couples now have families, and there are now almost 19,000 children in the UK growing up in same-sex parent families.
Research into the experiences of children with same-sex parents for Stonewall found:
My sister said to me, 'I’ve got two parents who love me. It doesn’t matter if they’re a boy or a girl.’ And to be honest I think that’s the best answer anyone could ever give. Hannah 16 (West Midlands)
Many children of gay parents see their families as special and different because all families are special and different.
I don’t think there is a sort of general, you know, stereotypical family anywhere really. I think you get to know anyone’s family and there are all kinds of weird quirks and interesting things and things that are really great and things that are not so great. Megan 23 (North East)
Children with gay parents like having gay parents and wouldn’t want things to change but wish other people were more accepting.
Children with gay parents don’t like the way the word ‘gay’ is used as an insult in primary and secondary school. They say their teachers aren’t very good at stopping it.
When people say ‘gay’… I feel worse than other people. Mark 8 (London)
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.
I can still remember when I was younger we had to draw a medal that said No. 1 dad. I said I didn’t want to do it. And they just said … well my teacher, it was like a supply teacher, and if I’d have had my normal teacher I think she would have said well you could draw one for your mum, but she just sort of said … well just don’t do one, don’t moan. And I found that really hard. Katie 12 (East Anglia)
Sometimes this means they don’t tell people they have gay parents. 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.
From our work with schools and teachers we know that many teachers want to create an inclusive learning environment, but often lack the confidence and know how to do so.
Fathers' Day provides an ideal opportunity to celebrate the diversity of family life in modern Britain. Here you’ll be able to find access to Stonewall materials and resources to help you do that. From story books, to posters, to DVDs, celebrating different families doesn’t have to be hard.
To find out more about the support we offer schools to discuss different families click here.