Same-sex parents

The latest material added to the Australian Institute of Family Studies library database is displayed, up to a maximum of 30 items. Where available online, a link to the document is provided. Many items can be borrowed from the Institute's library via the Interlibrary loan system.

See more resources on Same-sex parents in the AIFS library catalogue

'Go forth and wrestle with the legal system' : some perceptions and experiences of lesbian parents in rural Australia.

Bacchus R
Australian Journal of Social Issues v. 53 no. 1 Mar 2018: 18-33
This article explores the views and experiences of lesbian parents living in rural Australia, regarding the decisions they made in creating their families, their expectations and understanding of their roles and relationships, their concepts of family and parenthood, and how they negotiate the complex legal frameworks under which they exist. It draws on interviews with a small sample of women.

The kids are OK : it is discrimination, not same-sex parents, that harms children.

Knight K, Stephenson S, West S, Delatycki M, Jones C, Little M, Patton G, Sawyer S, Skinner S, Telfer M, Wake M, North K and Oberklaid F
Medical Journal of Australia v. 207 no. 9 23 Oct 2017: Article 1
This article summarises the evidence on how children are faring in same-sex families and briefly discusses implications for the medical community. Misinformation is circulating in the current public debate about same-sex marriage in Australia, for example that children and adolescents with same-sex parents are at risk of poorer health and wellbeing than other children. Homophobic campaign messages pose a mental health risk for same-sex couples, their children, and young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+). The Australian and international research on same-sex parented families found that being raised by same-sex parents does not harm children, with children in such families doing as well emotionally, socially and educationally as their peers. Instead, it is family processes rather than family structures that make a more meaningful difference.

Is there still no room for two mothers? Revisiting lesbian mother litigation in post-reform Australian family law.

Kelly F, Robert H and Power J
Australian Journal of Family Law v. 31 no. 1 Jul 2017: 1-26
In 2008, new parentage provisions were introduced to Australia's Family Law Act (the 'FLA') that extended legal parentage to lesbian co-mothers - the mother who has not given birth to the child - where conception occurs via assisted reproduction. It was presumed by advocates and scholars that the new intention-based laws would overcome many of the challenges faced by lesbian co-mothers who had previously relied on notions of 'functional family' to assert recognition of their parentage. This article explores the impact of the 2008 parentage amendments on Australian intra-lesbian parenting disputes, asking whether the intention-based model adopted by the FLA has changed the way in which parentage decisions are resolved and, in particular, whether it has created the relatively level, predictable and lesbian-centred starting point that experts anticipated. It also considers what happens after parentage is determined, analysing how judges approach questions of parental responsibility and parenting time in cases where both women are declared legal parents. It is concluded that the 2008 reforms represent a progressive acknowledgement of non-biological lesbian parenting in Australian society. Australian law now gives legal authority to the notion that children can have two mothers. However, judges, experts and birth mothers often diminish the role of co-mothers as parents (and mothers) when it comes to questions of parental responsibility and time.

Parent perspectives on child health and wellbeing in same-sex families : heteronormative conflict and resilience building.

Crouch S, McNair R and Waters E
Journal of Child and Family Studies v. 26 no. 8 Aug 2017: 2202-2214
Though studies on same-sex parented families show that children develop well overall, it is recognised that stigma can have a negative impact on health for these families. This article explores how child health in same-sex parented families is constructed by their parents, and whether this highlights a role for stigma. Eleven parents taking part in a larger study of child health and wellbeing in Australia were interviewed. Themes raised include heteronormative conflict, family constructs, gender assumptions, discrimination, broader familial stress, resilience building, and the anticipation of stigma and heteronormative pressures.

Same-sex couple families in Australia

Qu L, Knight K and Higgins D
Melbourne : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2016.
This document presents some facts about same-sex families in Australia, including the number of same-sex couples and same-sex couples with children (from 2011 Census data) and the impact on child wellbeing. It also notes trends in community attitudes towards same-sex relationships over the last decade (using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey). The number of same-sex couple parented families is growing in Australia, and the research indicates that children raised in such families develop as well as their peers.

Psychological wellbeing among same-sex attracted and heterosexual parents : role of connectedness to family and friendship networks.

Power J, Schofield M, Farchione D, Perlesz A, McNair R, Brown R, Pitts M and Bickerdike A
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy v. 36 no. 3 Sep 2015: 380-394
Research suggests that same-sex parents receive little or no support from their families of origin due to negative attitudes toward homosexuality. This article explores this further, examining the extent to which lesbian, gay and bisexual parents report a lower sense of connectedness to family of origin and friendship networks than heterosexual parents, and whether this connectedness has an impact on psychological wellbeing for either group of parents. It draws on data from two studies: 'Work, Love, Play', a study involving 324 Australian and New Zealand lesbian, gay and bisexual parents, and the 'Longitudinal Study of Australian Children', a population-based study in Australia, currently with 6,460 families.

Lesbian women choosing motherhood : the journey to conception.

Hayman B, Wilkes L, Halcomb E and Jackson D
Journal of GLBT Family Studies v. 11 no. 4 2015: 395-409
This article explores lesbian women's decision to become a mother. Drawing on interviews with lesbian mothers in Australia, it investigates the decision-making involved in choosing which partner would be pregnant, selecting a donor, and choosing a method of conception.

'We are doing just fine' : the children of Australian gay and lesbian parents speak out.

Hosking G, Mulholland M and Baird B
Journal of GLBT Family Studies v. 11 no. 4 2015: 327-350
This article adds to the research on the children of gay and lesbian parents in Australia, and highlights how children's welfare is the main issue for both proponents and opponents of same-sex parented families.

Gay men pursuing parenthood through surrogacy : reconfiguring kinship

Murphy D
Sydney, NSW : UNSW Press, 2015.
Today we are seeing the first generation of gay couples using surrogacy to achieve parenthood. Like most people, gay men grow up with expectations of parenthood but now there are new opportunities and narratives that are making this possible outside of hetereosexual relationships. This book explores the experiences and practices of gay men in pursuing parenthood through surrogacy in Australia and California, USA, focusing on how gay men 'enact' parenthood and family life. It investigates concepts of kinship, why gay men are 'choosing' to become parents at this point in time, the role and importance of genetics in kinship, and how these men negotiate the commercial aspects of surrogacy.

The health perspectives of Australian adolescents from same-sex parent families : a mixed methods study.

Crouch S, Waters E, McNair R and Power J
Child : Care, Health and Development v. 41 no. 3 May 2015: 356-364
This article investigates the physical, mental, and social well-being of adolescents living in same-sex parented families. Previous research has indicated that stigma from peer and community perspectives of same-sex families can have a negative impact on young people's health and well-being. This new article draws on data from the Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families (ACHESS).

FactCheck : is having a mum and a dad the very best thing for a child?

Crouch S and Dempsey D
The Conversation 6 Jul 2015
An Australian Senator recently argued that that having both a mother and a father is best for a child's development, according to the evidence. However, is this actually the case? This article reviews the Senator's evidence and compares it to recent Australian research on same-sex parents and child outcomes.

Resilience in same-sex-parented families : the lived experience of adults with gay, lesbian, or bisexual parents.

Titlestad A and Pooley J
Journal of GLBT Family Studies v. 10 no. 4 2014: 329-353
Research shows that children raised by same-sex parents are as well-adjusted as children raised in traditional heterosexual-parented families. But what about later in adulthood? This article explores the lived experiences of the adult children of same-sex parents, drawing on interviews with 8 Australian adults who had at least one parent who identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. The participants discussed the benefits of their nontraditional family structure, the importance of secure and loving family relationships, the impact of biological parent divorce and new blended families, and the supports and factors that were important in coping with challenges.

Report on parentage and the Family Law Act

Family Law Council (Australia), Australia. Attorney-General's Dept.
Barton, ACT : Attorney-General's Department, 2014.
In June 2012, the then Attorney-General asked the Family Law Council to consider a range of issues in relation to who is considered to be a parent of a child under the Family Law Act 1975. The rapidly changing nature of reproductive technology and community attitudes to family formation have led to an increasing diversity of families in Australia and the Attorney-General wished to ensure that children are not disadvantaged by the nature of their family or the way in which it was formed. This report presents the findings and recommendations of this investigation. It examines the current provisions of the law and whether any amendments are necessary to improve the operation of the Act and related laws or the determination of parentage. One recommendation of the report is that the Australian Government should introduce a federal Status of Children Act which would provide a clear statement of parentage laws across the Commonwealth.

Same-sex marriage and children : a tale of history, social science, and law

Ball C
New York : Oxford University Press, 2014.
"[This] is the first book to bring together historical, social science, and legal considerations to comprehensively respond to the objections to same-sex marriage that are based on the need to promote so-called "responsible procreation" and child welfare. Carlos A. Ball places the current marriage debates within a broader historical context by exploring how the procreative and child welfare claims used to try to deny same-sex couples the opportunity to marry are similar to earlier arguments used to defend interracial marriage bans, laws prohibiting disabled individuals from marrying, and the differential treatment of children born out of wedlock. Ball also draws a link between welfare reform and same-sex marriage bans by explaining how conservative proponents have defended both based on the need for the government to promote responsible procreation among heterosexuals. In addition, Ball examines the social science studies relied on by opponents of same-sex marriage and explains ... why they do not support the contention that biological status and parental gender matter when it comes to parenting. He also explores the relevance of the social science studies on the children of lesbians and gay men to the question of whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. In doing so, the book looks closely at the gay marriage cases that recently reached the Supreme Court and explains why the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans cannot be defended on the basis that maintaining marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution helps to promote the best interests of children."

Stepfamilies : a global perspective on research, policy, and practice

Pryor J
New York : Routledge, 2014.
"This new book reviews the most current global research and highlights the challenges, possibilities, and dynamics of stepfamily households. It describes their formation, their experiences, and the factors that help them thrive. International and cultural differences are highlighted throughout along with issues of class, gender, and religion. Nontraditional stepfamilies such as those headed by same-sex families are also explored along with clinical and legal issues. Engagingly written with numerous vignettes and examples, each chapter features objectives, an introduction, boldfaced key terms, summary, list of key terms, discussion questions, exercises, and additional text and web resources."

'Raised eyebrows' : working with lesbian-parented families - experiences of childcare centre directors in Australia.

Cloughessy K and Waniganayake M
Children and Society d7 Dec 2013: Advanced online publication
Interviews were conducted with 64 childcare centre directors in Victoria, regarding their experiences with lesbian-parented families and attitudes towards inclusion and sexuality.

LGBT-parent families : innovations in research and implications for practice

Goldberg A and Allen K
New York : Springer, 2013.
"Paralleling their gains in legal rights and social acceptance is a rapidly growing knowledge base concerning sexually diverse families. Emphasizing what we know and what we still need to know about this maturing field, [this book] covers both major and less-studied areas of research, exploring clinical, methodological, policy, and advocacy issues alongside the contexts in which parents practice their craft and children experience their world. Inclusiveness beyond sexuality and gender is a crucial dimension of this volume: issues of race/ethnicity, social class, and geographic diversity are discussed by most of the contributors, including a chapter devoted to non-Western perspectives. Diverse, too, are the disciplines represented in the book, from psychology and psychiatry to human development and legal studies. Among the topics covered: Lesbian and gay adoptive parents; A call for research on bisexual parenting; Transgender-parent families; LGBTQ youth with LGBTQ parents; Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender grandparents; Clinical work with LGBTQ parents and prospective parents; Qualitative research on LGBT-parent families; Use of representative datasets to study LGBT-parent families; Use of multilevel modeling to study LGBT-parent families.

Same-sex parented families in Australia

Dempsey D
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2013.
This research paper reviews and synthesises Australian and international literature on same-sex parented families. It includes discussion of the different modes of conception or family formation, different family structures, and the small number of studies on bisexual and transgender parents. Particular attention is paid to research on the emotional, social and educational outcomes for children raised by lesbian and gay parents, and the methodological strengths and weaknesses of this body of work.

Same-sex couples.

Australian Bureau of Statistics
Australian social trends July 2013. Belconnen, ACT : Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013 ABS no. 4102.0 1321-1781
This chapter looks at some of the characteristics of same-sex couples in Australia. Using data from the 2011 Census of Population and Housing, it explores trends in the number of people describing themselves as having a same-sex partner, age group and gender differences, age differences between partners, same-sex couple families with children, religiosity, higher levels of educations, labour force participation and skilled professions, most common occupations, income, share of unpaid work in the home, distribution across urban and regional areas, and geographic mobility. Comparisons with opposite-sex couples are also included.

The desire for parenthood : gay men choosing to become parents through surrogacy.

Murphy D
Journal of Family Issues v. 34 no. 8 Aug 2013: 1104-1124
This study explores how gay men understand their desire to have children and what frames their parenthood experiences. Drawing on interviews with 30 gay men who have become parents though surrogacy in Australia and the United States, it discusses the desire for parenthood, parenthood and gay identity, reasons for pursuing surrogacy, legal and institutional arrangements, barriers to parenthood, decisions about biogenetic paternity, and selection of egg donors and gestational surrogates.

Marginalised mothers : lesbian women negotiating heteronormative healthcare services.

Hayman B, Wilkes L, Halcomb E and Jackson D
Contemporary Nurse v. 44 no. 1 Apr 2013 Special Issue, Advances in health care with marginalised populations Advances in Contemporary Nursing 23: 120-127
Lesbian mothers share mainstream existence with other mothers by virtue of their motherhood, but remain marginalised by their non-heterosexual identity. This paper will draw on the qualitative findings of a recent Australian study that examined the experiences of lesbian mothers. Using a story-sharing method, data were collected using three methods; a demographic data sheet, in-depth semi-structured interviews and journaling. The findings demonstrated that participants experienced various forms of homophobia when interfacing with healthcare services and providers and included exclusion, heterosexual assumption, inappropriate questioning and refusal of services. Strategies used to avoid homophobia included screening and crusading.

Marriage equality in Australia : the influence of attitudes toward same-sex parenting.

Webb S and Chonody J
Gay and Lesbian Issues and Psychology Review v. 8 no. 3 2012: 165-177
This article investigates to what extent people's attitudes toward same-sex parenting influences their attitudes toward same-sex marriage. A community survey was conducted with 790 adults in Australia to test two hypotheses: 1) people with lower levels of religiosty, higher levels of education, more contact with gay and bisexual people, are younger, and are female will exhibit more positive attitudes toward ame-sex marriage; 2) attitudes toward ame-sex parenting will uniquely contribute to explaining attitudes toward same-sex marriage, controlling for the following demographic variables: sex, sexual orientation, religiosity, social contact with gay and bisexual people, education, age, marital and parental status, and attitudes toward lesbians and gay men. Despite the growing acceptance for same-sex sexuality in Australia, the findings of this study indicate that some reservations regarding same-sex marriage still exist.

'A lesbian family in a straight world' : the impact of the transition to parenthood on couple relationships in planned lesbian families.

O'Neill K, Hamer H and Dixon R
Women's Studies Journal v. 26 no. 2 Dec 2012: 39-53
This article explores the transition to parenthood for lesbian women in New Zealand. Eight women were interviewed, highlighting similarities and differences to heterosexual women and the impacts on couple relationships. The article concludes with recommendations for further research and legislation.

Gay male couples' paternal involvement in lesbian-parented families.

Dempsey D
Journal of Family Studies v. 18 no. 2/3 Dec 2012: 155-164
Australian gay men often assist lesbian friends and acquaintances to have families through known donor insemination arrangements. This paper discusses how these men's paternal involvement is negotiated and enacted vis a vis that of their same-sex partner and the children's mothers. It is based on three detailed case studies taken from a 2007-8 study of 14 gay biological fathers and their partners. I argue that these unconventional family relationships can provide creative and successful solutions to wanting a family with children and being in a same sex couple, in addition to the paid work/care balance issues that affect many busy parents. At the same time, these relationships potentially become problematic due to incompatible parental expectations of the men and women involved, and different understandings of the obligations and entitlements of paternal involvement. Conflict may arise due to the perceived fixed status of preconception agreements as opposed to the lived reality of childrearing, the cultural and social conventions that position paternal involvement as a choice rather than an obligation, and the predominance of same-sex couple based nuclear family aspirations.

Gay and bisexual dads and diversity : fathers in the Work, Love, Play study.

Power J, Perlesz A, McNair R, Schofield M, Pitts M, Brown R and Bickerdike A
Journal of Family Studies v. 18 no. 2/3 Dec 2012: 143-154
This paper reports on findings from the Work, Love, Play (WLP) study, an Australian/New Zealand study of same-sex attracted parents. There were 88 fathers who responded to the WLP survey. There was a diversity of contexts in which these men had become parents and were currently parenting: 34 (39%) had become parents while in a previous heterosexual relationship, 20 (23%) were parenting children who had been conceived via surrogacy in the context of the respondent's current same-sex relationship, 17 (19%) had become parents through sperm donation and co-parenting arrangements with single women or lesbian couples, while ten (11%) were parents to foster children. The shift to parenthood generated largely positive outcomes for most men including bringing men closer to their families, although some men who had children from previous heterosexual relationships faced challenges confronting their families concerns about the impact of their 'coming out' on their children.

Through the lens of hetero-normative assumptions : re-thinking attitudes towards gay parenting.

Pennington J and Knight T
Culture, Health and Sexuality v. 13 no. 1 2011: 59-72
This article explores the attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions of nine heterosexual adults towards gay parents and the impact on child development.

LGBT families.

National Council on Family Relations
Minneapolis, Minn. : National Council on Family Relations, 2011.

One parent or five: a global look at today's new intentional families

Marquardt E
New York : Institute for American Values, 2011.
Today, anyone can deliberately become a parent - straight, gay, married, partnered, or single. This report compares child wellbeing in these new intentional families, with one-, two-, three-, and even four- and five-parent families. It examines: one-parent families, including single mother by choice, single father by choice, posthumous conception, and cloning; two-parent families including married mother and father, same-sex marriage and parenting, co-parenting pre-conception arrangements, and the possibilities in same-sex procreation; three-parent families, including polyamory, polygamy, and three-person reproduction; and conceiving children with four or five legal, social, biological, and/or gestational parents. The report focuses on the effects of family structure and biological identity on children, and argues that intentionally conceiving children - intentionally wanting a child - is not a key factor in child wellbeing, and that deliberately denying a child a biological parent is damaging to the child's wellbeing.

Pragmatic imbalances : Australian lesbian and gay foster carers negotiating the current legal context.

Riggs D
Law in Context v. 28 no. 1 2011 Special issue on current trends in the regulation of same-sex relationships 9781862878334: 65-77
This article explores how lesbian and gay foster carers negotiate their identity and visibility in face of current foster parent policies in Australia. Based on interviews with gay and lesbian foster carers, it discusses how carers adjust their behaviour and rights in order to prioritise the needs of the child.

Resilience in families with same-sex parents

Griffiths N
2010.
"Research suggests resilience can be viewed as a dynamic process facilitating positive functioning within the context of significant adversity. A nuclear family type that remains a controversial and stigmatized group is families with same-sex parents. Same-sex families face a great number of challenges, due to the presence of heterosexism in society and they are often heavily criticised within the broad public domain. The current study adopted a phenomenological methodology to identify the family resilience processes utilised by same-sex families. Five lesbian couples (n = 10) raising children in Perth, Western Australia were interviewed. A thematic analysis technique outlined by Glesne and Peshkin (1992) was then conducted. Seven family resiliency processes were identified in the current study, Creating Family Unity, Preparation, Support, Outness, Flexibility, Normalisation and Humour. Limitations of this study include the lack of child participants, meaning mothers were speaking on behalf of their children. Future studies that include child interviews, gay fathers and longitudinal designs are recommended."--Author abstract.
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