Children of gay parents ‘experience homophobia’

CHILDREN of gay and bisexual parents experience homophobia in schools and in the health services, according to a new report.

The report, Voices of Children, details the experiences of children brought up by gay, lesbian and bisexual parents and was commissioned by the Marriage Equality group, which has campaigned for civil marriage for gay and lesbian people.

It also reveals how some of those raised by gay or lesbian parents suffered homophobia in the community and in schools, including “explicit homophobia and inaction by staff to tackle this”.

It also states that in one case school policy meant sick children could not go home with their non-biological parent and another child was excluded from playing with another child after their parents complained to the headmaster.

The report is based primarily on interviews with 11 participants aged between 18 and 24 years who were reared by gay or lesbian parents.

Five were born in England but moved here at a young age, while some were born into heterosexual families but after their parents separated lived in a gay or lesbian household. Four were born by donor.

The report found that:

* Some of the male participants and two female interviewees spoke of a sense of seeking out male influences during their childhood.

* There was a strong sense of how “wanted” the children of LGBT parents felt, “making it harder for the group to accept societal attitudes that continue to reject such committed families”.

* “As well as experiencing homophobia within their immediate family and friendship networks, the group described encountering homophobia in public spaces, including churches, media, schools and in the health services”.

* “One young woman spoke of deliberately not talking about her home life because of the persistent homophobia in her class, which was not challenged by the teacher.”

In the report, Marriage Equality chairwoman Grainne Healy writes that LGBT parents are experiencing a “conservative backlash against equality” after the Government did not grant those couples legal recognition.

“This year the Government has chosen to deny them legal recognition despite their international assertions of commitments to children’s human rights, so promised and acknowledged as necessary following the shocking revelations of the Ryan Report last year,” Ms Healy said.

“Marriage Equality calls on the Irish Government to establish legal recognition of children in LGBT families, through appropriate amendment of adoption and guardianship laws, and by the introduction of civil marriage rights for gay and lesbian parents.”

She said other steps that needed to be taken included census data that would count the number of households headed by same-sex parents so as to influence policy priorities and legislative change.


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