Gay and Lesbian Parents

Gay and Lesbian Parents

Gay and Lesbian Parents

Gay and Lesbian Parents

Synopsis

This insightful new work deals with all of the contemporary issues concerning parenting by gay men and lesbians. It is designed to broaden readers' thinking on homosexuality and homosexuals in general; to include the dimension of children and parenting within the context of the homosexual family; and to provide specific information about it. The book also includes data on the children of gay and lesbian parents, as well as a discussion of alternative forms of parenthood such as adoptive and foster parenthood, stepparent families, and gay men and lesbians in heterosexual family unions. Because of their special significance, there are separate chapters on legal issues, counseling needs, and social psychological concerns for gays and lesbians considering parenthood.

Excerpt

The present work raises all of the contemporary issues surrounding discussions of gay and lesbian parenthood. These issues are directly related to policy deliberations dealing with child custody, foster and adoptive homes by gays and lesbians, and therapy. The chapters of this work attempt to marshall the admittedly limited research on these issues and provide answers. However, it is notable that most of these issues are negative ones in the form of charges that have been made against the adequacy of gay/lesbian parenting. Hopefully, these issues can be settled in near future research so that the study of gay/lesbian parenthood can move on to other issues.

Bozett argues that for gay/lesbian parents, and especially custodial ones, bonds to children are almost invariably given primacy over bonds to lovers. He sees this as a sometime problem for such parents who are faced with conflicting loyalties. It should be noted, however, that such conflicts are endemic to stepfamilies of whatever sexual orientation and whatever marital status. For example, gay/lesbian stepfamilies seem most similar to common-law stepfamilies in which the status of the nonlegal stepparent is ill defined in the family. Such ambiguity of commitments can then easily give rise to disagreements over the priority of obligations. Presumably, that ambiguity is most characteristic of stepfamilies in their early stages and either greater clarity is reached over time or the family dissolves.

Bozett also raises the question of how well custodial gay or lesbian parents can relate to the gay/lesbian worlds that are typically populated by single persons. This is a real problem since many lesbian and gay parents come to feel socially isolated and left out by the homosexual worlds with which they identify. But again, this problem is not unique to gay/lesbian parents. Social worlds are nearly totally segregated by singleness and parenthood regardless of sexual orientation. Heterosexual couples almost never invite single persons with or without children to social occasions due to potential problems of jealousy, someone feeling left out of a conversation, incompatibility of interests, or the need to relate to others as a couple rather than as an individual. The gay/lesbian worlds seem to operate according to similar principles of homophily and segregation. However, since the gay and lesbian worlds are very largely unisex worlds, the barriers between couples and others may be less than in the . . .

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