Is the number of LGBT families in the UK growing? Your thoughts, please.

(30 Posts)
MylinhMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 15-Aug-13 17:15:18

Hello,

We've been asked by a national broadsheet about the rise in LGBT parenting, and the changing make-up of families in the UK.

The first independent LGBT family magazine, We Are Family has arrived, and there are a number of social media sites (not to mention Mumsnet's own Lesbian/Gay Parents topic!) dedicated to LGBT parents.

Here's what we've been asked:

Do you think LGBT families are on the rise? If so, why do you think this is? Are there more families headed up by LGBT parents now than there were a few years ago? Or do you think the situation hasn't actually changed very much in the last decade or so?
Do you think mainstream parenting advice is supportive enough, or are LGBT parents and parents-to-be seeking help from their own communities? And how do you use Mumsnet (and other forums) for support?

As always, we'd value your thoughts.

Many thanks,
MNHQ

EmpressOfTheSevenOceans Thu 15-Aug-13 17:27:30

On the rise? Or just more visible? There are still plenty of LGBT families who don't always advertise the fact, whether because they haven't told their own parents, they're in a vulnerable position for whatever reason & don't want to risk homophobia from relevant authorities or they just don't want their DCs to have to deal with their friends' reactions?

We tend to wait a LONG time before coming out to DD's friends / their parents - and it's not even about saying "Hey, we're gay!" or shoving our sexuality in people's faces or all the other shit. It's about me being able to touch DW's hand while we're walking or DW (birth mum) being able to say "This is my wife."

And since I have to leave work now to meet DW, I'll post more later.

nataliejc77 Fri 16-Aug-13 08:28:30

personally i do think there are more gay parents. i know it is far easier now to be more visible in the wider community than in previous generations but i do think there are more. with the rise of fertility clinics targeting LBGT people and the internet with sperm donation sites. it is now easier and cheaper than ever. i also think that with the stigma of being gay rapidly decreasing it has given more people the confidence to try for a child.
although i do wish there was more support for us doing it alone it can be lonely being gay and a single parent. all groups i know of cater for single parents (always all straight) or LGBT (couples kingdom)!!

EmpressOfTheSevenOceans Fri 16-Aug-13 17:42:36

True - it probably is a lot simpler now. And we have more tools to make it official.

As far as mainstream parenting advice goes, I think it depends what the issue is. Some issues - messy bedrooms, fussy eating, not putting dirty washing in the basket etc - pretty much transcend what kind of parents a family has, I think. I usually post on Preteens if I want advice or to rant. I'd post in LGBT if it was something more specific, like "DD's best friend has just told her gay marriage is evil."

Incidentally, I had a look at the This is Family website & was pleased to see that it looks like it's being run by people from within the community. My first instinct was that the aforementioned broadsheet might be running the magazine and using MN for publicity, but no, it looks like it's really independent. Which is great.

HotheadPaisan Sun 18-Aug-13 08:45:29

I think once a few start having kids in your LGBT community it gives confidence for others to follow. There are definitely more lesbians in my community with kids now than there were years ago but then we are all older now.

Increased legal rights are another are that helps. It wouldn't have stopped me having kids without CPs and DP having parental responsibility but it is all a lot easier now which helps.

Susan Golombok and her team might have the latest statistics. Not sure if Stonewall survey this too. Those of us with kids in the LGBT community are probably still in a very small minority but I bet the overall numbers have increased over the decades.

HotheadPaisan Sun 18-Aug-13 08:46:09

Also, prob need to make this a DoD for more responses.

HotheadPaisan Sun 18-Aug-13 08:52:35

Meant to add that I have used Mumsnet in the same way everyone else does, for advice and support and so on. There have been a couple of issues over the years with language and rubbing up against the 'LGBT people shouldn't have kids' brigade - I'd rather that wasn't up for debate on a support and advice forum - but the site and users are overwhelmingly supportive.

EmpressOfTheSevenOceans Mon 19-Aug-13 11:46:48

Yes - I've noticed that often by the time I see an anti-gay post / thread, the poster's already been dealt with by other MNers.

Have you looked at the magazine preview? There seems to be more of a focus on how to become a parent than on how to parent at the moment, which I hope they'll balance out in future editions - I'd like to see more on how we support our children to deal with having "different" parents from their friends, for instance. And I thought Natalie had a definite point about the invisibility of single LGBT parents - maybe that's something they could cover too.

kim147 Mon 19-Aug-13 21:13:46

LGBT - well it looks like LGB to be honest.

I hope they look at issues to do with bullying, telling children etc And remember that Trans people exist and are not merely an add-on to the LGB community.

EmpressOfTheSevenOceans Tue 20-Aug-13 01:58:19

Absolutely Kim.

I hope they're reading this thread. So much of the stuff out there is about conception - having a magazine that dealt with the issues once you're a parent would be massively useful.

SunnyIntervals Tue 20-Aug-13 10:21:52

Yes! My gay friends have just adopted - so by at least one smile

Blu Tue 20-Aug-13 11:23:25

Within my circle of friends there is one 2-Dad family who have adopted two children, 2 x 2-Mum familes who have one child, and another 2-Mum family now following adoption procedures having tried IVF. There was a 2-Mum family in our NCT tea group. It all seems very 'ordinary'.

When I was in my 20s and early 30s I knew several lesbian couples who had children, but no gay men - despite knowing loads and loads of gay men. They just seemed to accept that it was part of being a gay couple that you didn't raise a family together. Though many had sort of special uncle relationships with the children of close friends, or were active godparents.

Then about 15 - 10 years ago it just seemed so much more of an option that men could consider. It can't not have an impact, Guardian columns like the Coronation St actor describing his fatherhood and family, or Ottolenghi.

Blu Tue 20-Aug-13 11:26:13

Oh, and as for the 'T' - there is a local famaily where one parent underwent gender re-assignment and is resident parent (as far as I know). To be honest, there is some rather voyeuristic gossip about this, but mostly driven by curiosity, I have heard nothing judgemental or hostile.

Blu Tue 20-Aug-13 11:28:25

Sorry - not sure if the opinions sought are from within the LBGT community, or generally. Just to make clear - I am not an LBGT parent myself.

noisytoys Tue 20-Aug-13 12:06:51

My DM left my DF for a woman when I was 2. That was 24 years ago and she's now married to the same woman. I wouldn't say it is more common now, maybe more mainstream but I've never known any different.

Amiee Tue 20-Aug-13 12:44:50

I think there is less stigma than there used to be, which is leading to more visibility. As previous poster has said it seems like a lot more gay men feel like they have options now as well.
Personally, as a heterosexual parent, I wish more of my GLBT friends and members of the general public woud be more open. My ideal would be that my DD never even asks 'why does so and so have two mums' but instead that she just excepts it because she's always seen affectionate loving parents and couples of all genders and sexualities.

Amiee Tue 20-Aug-13 12:45:54

Oops LGBT

puddock Tue 20-Aug-13 14:08:34

I wanted to throw something in here - at the We Are Family people more than at the broadsheet questions - about the "B" in "LGBT families". We are "an LGBT family" but, to anyone who makes heteronormative assumptions about other people's sexuality, we don't look like one, because the two adults at the head of the family are opposite sex.
I agree with HotheadPaisan and others that much parenting discussion and advice transcends sexuality, but for those areas where one's queerness is relevant, bisexual parents aren't always given a lot of time or consideration by those trying to represent or support "LGBT families", and I'd be glad to see something that spoke to families like mine too.

HerrenaHarridan Tue 20-Aug-13 15:29:34

I think it's a bit of both less stigma = more openly gay families and better access to fertility treatment/ change in laws surrounding adoption means more gay couples have gone on to become families.

I agree with the pp who said there is not enough focus in this from the trans point of view and that it seems to focus more on becoming a parent than the being a parent.

Things like integrating into massively hetro/female parent and baby groups or how to handle you dcs friend realising you're a couple and asking questions.

I think most parenting advice is across the board and I use mn with out having to state in any op btw I'm gay in case that's relevant. That said there are parenting issues that are specific to rainbow families and these do tend to be over looked.

Earthymama Tue 20-Aug-13 15:59:53

I know there are more lesbian and gay parents now, well certainly more gay parents. I think lesbians have always found the ways and means to become mothers wink

It is now socially acceptable and I am delighted that is the case. Bank in the 80s and 90s the Lesbian Mother's Handbook was on the bookshelf of most lesbians with children as they fought for access to their own offspring. A close friend lost her children and didn't see them for several years when she identified as lesbian. I married early and was, in hindsight, hiding from my sexuality as I lived in a strongly Christian family.

I caused so much heartache and that is my only regret. My ex-husband hates me and has chosen not to be in my (adult) children's lives.

I love my life with a passion but I wish I been braver when I was younger. I can't undo the past and I would die rather than not be mother to my daughter and son but I wish it had been easier for them.

I love to see gay and lesbian families, it makes all the protesting and marching and fighting worthwhile!!

Now I need to get backing to campaigning to tell Cameron the being Pagan should not be equated with being interested in child abuse and pornography!!
Cameron is a . . .

motherinferior Tue 20-Aug-13 17:27:48

I think there must be more families now, because there is a widening acceptance/realisation that parenthood is an option.

I know a number of lesbian parents (including my sister). At both my kids' south east London state schools there are lesbian mums too - and when one woman died suddenly the entire school community rallied round to support her partner, it was in the school newsletter and so on.

exexpat Tue 20-Aug-13 17:32:46

Not LGBT myself, but if general perceptions are helpful: I'm in my mid 40s, and none of my gay (male) friends of my generation or older have (yet) decided to become parents, but around half the lesbians I know have. I would assume that gay couples now in their 30s or younger would be more likely to have children, as it has become legally and technically less difficult, and levels of social acceptance are much higher.

I will be interested to see how differently things turn out in my DCs' generation - they are growing up with the idea of gay couples and gay parents as being completely normal and ordinary (eg although none of the gay friends of mine that DD has met do have children, one of her favourite TV programmes is Modern Family, and she doesn't seem to find anything at all remarkable about the gay family in that). In terms of general acceptance, much as I hate the Daily Mail and glossy celeb magazines, they have probably done quite a lot to normalise the idea with their photoshoots of celebrity gay couples and their children.

noisytoys Tue 20-Aug-13 17:34:19

Eartymama you are right about the access issue. I didn't see DM at all from age 2-7 and I lived with my DF and remember being in and out of court my whole childhood to discuss access issues. It was only when I was in secondary school I got regular access to DM sad

PickleFish Tue 20-Aug-13 18:07:30

Seems a strange question to ask opinions of - surely it's a factual thing that can only be answered with proper statistical surveys?

As to why, whether it's becoming more acceptable, and what parenting advice is around, that's different. But why cloud an issue by asking for opinions on something that can be measured? All you are getting is perceptions on whether these families are more visible etc, which is a perfectly valid question in its own right, and not to be confused with questions about actual increases.

Trills Tue 20-Aug-13 21:19:53

Well, either it is or it isn't. There's no need for "opinion" about it, it's something that could be counted.

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