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What are some of the barriers LGBT individuals and couples face in trying to create their families?

Written by our mental health expert, Karen Kranz, Ph.D.

The obvious barrier that LGBT individuals and couples face when trying to conceive their children is that they may not have all the genetic materials required within their couple relationships and as such need to seek out other people to provide the genetic materials required to conceive a child and the route to finding these people may be through formal (fertility clinics) or informal (friends) methods.

Another barrier LGBT individuals and couples face is the heteronormative* attitudes and overt discrimination widely expressed by some members of society. There are members of society who believe children should be raised by their biological mother and father and that it is not appropriate to conceive children, knowing they will not be parented by both their biological mother and father. For some members of society, conceiving children in LGBT headed families, is seen as selfish because LBGT people often face discrimination. Therefore, LBGT people should not have children knowing that these children are likely to face social discrimination because their parents are LGBT. In a society in which heteronormative attitudes prevail, LGBT led families are unusual because they are not comprised of one mom – born female and one dad – born male. Rather, LGBT led families may have, for example, two moms, two dads, or a mom and dad in which one of them transition from male to female or female to male. Members of society not exposed to LGBT diverse family structures, question the legitimacy of these families and doubt the ability of these parents to raise their children to be healthy, happy, productive members of society.

In terms of adoption, LGBT individual couples face a number of barriers. Many countries do not allow LGBT people to adopt children. In Canada, LGBT people can adopt but they need to be selected by the children (depending on their age) and by the children’s family members. Again, many LGBT people are passed over because of the heteronormative idea that the ideal family is comprised of one woman and one man.

As a result of the challenges, LGBT individuals tend to look long and hard at the above issues and deeply consider how they feel about raising children who will not be parented by the man or woman who provided genetic material for their conception. They also consider how they will educate their children and important people in their children’s lives about for example, having two moms, social prejudices about LGBT individuals and families, and family diversity. By doing so they will be legitimizing LGBT led families by conveying to their children and society that their families are whole and complete.

*Heteronormative: A cultural bias in favour of opposite sex intimate relationships and against same sex relationships.

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