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We Need Better Public Policy for LGBT Families

Our laws and discourse largely ignore the roughly 2 million children being raised by LGBT parents.

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Public discussion about American families often assumes the nation is largely made up of married heterosexual couples raising their biological children. Yet less than a quarter of all U.S. households fall into this category. Today’s children may be raised by grandparents, single parents, step-parents, aunts, uncles, or foster parents. Their parents may be married or unmarried. They also may be heterosexual or lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender—LGBT.

Unfortunately, public policy has not kept up with the changing reality of the American family. Indeed, our laws and discourse largely ignore the roughly 2 million children being raised by LGBT parents. They also ignore children in other family configurations, such as those with unmarried heterosexual parents. As a result, most Americans are probably unaware of the many ways in which unequal treatment and social stigma harm the millions of children whose families do not fit into a certain mold.

A new report, “All Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequalities Hurt LGBT Families,” from the Movement Advancement Project, the Family Equality Council, and the Center for American Progress offers one of the most comprehensive portraits to date of the wide range of challenges facing LGBT families in America.

It highlights three major needs that every child must have met: stable, loving homes; economic security; and health and well-being. In each of these areas, the report outlines how current laws and social stigma create challenges for LGBT families. The report offers detailed recommendations for eliminating or reducing inequities and improving the lives of children with LGBT parents. Where possible, the report also highlights how current laws and stigma harm children in other modern family configurations, such as those with unmarried heterosexual parents.

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