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Entries in Lesbian (10)

Tuesday
Jul172012

Same-Sex Families at Risk with Patchwork of State Parenting Laws

BananaStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Current state laws put many children living in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) families at risk and undermine family stability, according to a new report out Tuesday.

In more than 30 states, children in LGBT families are legal strangers to at least one of their parents.

In Louisiana, for example, one would have to be the biological parent or legally married to his or her partner to secure parenting rights.  Same-sex marriage is illegal in that state and two men's or women's names cannot appear on the birth certificate.

Between 2 million and 2.8 million children are being raised by LGBT parents, and because of a patchwork of state laws and no federal protections, many of these children are at risk, according to the report by the Movement Advancement Project, Family Equality Council, Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and the Equality Foundation.

The findings are based on a 2011 report, "Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequities Hurt LGBT Families."  This third companion report recommends policies and laws that the groups say address the changing American family and protect children.

In the United States, 69 percent of children live with married, heterosexual parents, down from 83 percent in 1970, according to the report.  Today, an estimated 24 percent of female same-sex couples, 11 percent of male couples and 38 percent of transgender Americans are raising children.

The states with the highest number of children being raised by LGBT families -- many of them in the conservative South -- are those with the most restrictive laws.

While states like California and New York have high numbers of same-sex couples, those most likely to be raising children live in Mississippi, Wyoming, Alaska, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Alabama, Montana, South Dakota and South Carolina, in that order.

A second legal parent may be unable to pick up a child from day care without authorization or advocate for a child in school.  In these states, nonbiological same-sex parents cannot include a child on their health insurance and can be denied access to a hospital in an emergency or be left out of health care decisions.

Inconsistent laws make it difficult even for families from states where same-sex marriage and second-parent adoption is legal when they cross state lines, according to the report.

"If a couple in Washington, a state with full parental recognition, goes on vacation jet skiing in Idaho and the kid gets hurt, one parent might not be recognized," said Calla Rongerude, spokesman for the Movement Advancement Project, an LGBT think tank, and one of the co-authors of the report.

"If you are a New York family visiting Philadelphia, you better take everything you have and hope there is a sympathetic nurse when you have to go to the hospital," she said.

Children are also unable to access death or disability benefits or government safety net programs from a non-legal parent.  They can lose inheritance and other protections designed to keep them safe during times of crisis, according to the report.

"When we talk about ballot measures on marriage, we don't talk about the kids," said Rongerude.  "And frankly, they are the most vulnerable."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun112012

Study: Kids of Parents in Same-Sex Relationships Fare Worse as Adults

BananaStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- A new study finds that adult children of parents in same-sex relationships fare worse socially, psychologically and physically than people raised in other family arrangements.

Critics call the study deeply flawed, saying the results don't accurately describe -- or even measure -- any children raised in stable households with two same-sex parents.

The study surveyed nearly 3,000 U.S. adults, ages 18 to 39, about their upbringing and their lives today, asking questions about factors such as income, relationship stability, mental health and history of sexual abuse.  Of the 3,000 respondents, 73 reported that their father had engaged in a same-sex relationship and 163 reported that their mother had done so.

People who reported that their mother or father had a same-sex relationship at some point were different than children raised by their biological, still-married parents in 25 of the study's 40 measures.  And most of the time, they fared worse.  The children of parents who at some point had a same-sex partner were more likely to be on welfare, have a history of depression, have less education and report a history of sexual abuse, the study found.

The study was published Sunday in the journal Social Science Research.  It was funded by the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation, groups that are "commonly known for their support of conservative causes," though the organizations played no role in the design and analysis of the report, the study said.

Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of the report, said the study was not intended as a political statement, but simply tried to answer the question of whether children of parents with same-sex relationships are different.  He said the study also isn't designed to prove that family structure causes poor health.

"I'm not claiming that gay and lesbian adults are bad parents.  This is not a parenting study," Regnerus said.  "What this shows is that there's lots of diversity."

Regardless, the study touches a raw nerve at a time of heated political battles over gay marriage and same-sex parenting.  Both supporters and critics of the study claim to have science on their side.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb012012

'Knock Off’ the Hate Speech, Says LGBT Super Bowl Ads

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For the first time ever, gay-rights advocates will launch a sassy advertising campaign aimed at football fans in the most macho of American venues -- the Super Bowl.

Four award-winning public service announcements feature various celebrities telling teens to “knock it off” when they overhear them using the ubiquitous line, “That’s so gay.”

The videos will be strategically placed on a screen at the entrance of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind., to be viewed by Super Bowl ticketholders on Feb. 5.

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In its newest ad, GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, has garnered cooperation from the NBA and Phoenix Suns stars Grant Hill and Jared Dudley. The NBA is the first professional sports league to address antigay language among teens.

The campaign -- Think Before You Speak -- was created by ArnoldNYC and Toronto-based Grazie Media donated the airtime. The PSAs were funded by GLSEN, whose mission it is to ensure safe schools for all students.

Launched in 2009, the PSAs coincide with national concern about homophobia and school bullying and have received accolades from the Ad Council.

“The casual use of ‘That’s so gay’ is very common and rampant and often leads to more overt forms of harassment,” said GLSEN spokesperson Andy Marra. “This audience may not even see it as a problem.”

The first three videos have been distributed to local markets and have generated more than 387 million impressions and $25 million in donated ad time, according to GLSEN.

“It’s a new audience for us to reach,” said Marra. “The tone and feel is a good fit. The ads are not confrontational -- but very disarming and spark a conversation. That is the intention.”

Think Before You Speak features humorous TV PSAs with celebrities interrupting teenagers who use the term “that’s so gay.”

In one video, celebrity Hilary Duff switches the tables on two girls picking out dresses in a store, scolding them for equating gay with “bad.” In another, Wanda Sykes chastises adolescent teens eating at a pizza restaurant.

Last year, GLSEN unveiled its sports project, “Changing the Game,” which specifically addressed name-calling and bullying in physical education and sports settings.

“LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) athletes are in school and we want them to feel safe and come out and be open and honest about who they are. It's a challenge because of the climate in many PE settings,” said Marra.

According to GLSEN’s 2009 National School Climate survey, three-quarters of LGBT students hear slurs such as “faggot” or “dyke” frequently or often at school and nine in 10 report hearing anti-LGBT language frequently or often. Homophobic remarks such as “that’s so gay” are the most commonly heard type of biased remarks at school.

Research shows that these slurs are often unintentional and simply a part of the teens’ vernacular. Most do not recognize the consequences, according to GLSEN.

Ad Council research found that the campaign has shown a shift in attitudes and behaviors among teens and their language.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan052012

Biological Mom Kept from Child in Florida Lesbian Legal Case

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Tina's biological daughter turned 8 this week, but she has not seen the girl since Dec. 22, 2008 because of a custody fight with her former lesbian partner.  The partner is unrelated to the child, but gave birth to her.

"I thought I'd have her back on her birthday," said Tina, a law enforcement officer, whose name was never on the birth certificate and who has been denied parenting rights under Florida state law.

For 11 years, the Brevard County couple forged a committed relationship, living together, sharing their finances and raising a daughter.  Tina's egg was fertilized with donor sperm and implanted in her partner's womb.

But when their romance fell apart when the child was 2, the Florida courts had to decide, who is the legal parent, the biological mother or the birth mother who carried the unrelated child for nine months in her womb?

A trial court summarily sided with Tina's ex-partner, citing Florida statute. "The judge said, 'It breaks my heart, but this is the law,'" according to the birth mother's lawyer, Robert J. Wheelock of Orlando.

But on Dec. 23, a state appeals court rejected the law as antiquated and recognized both women as legal parents.  Citing the case as "unique," the 5th District Court of Appeal ruled that both the U.S. and Florida constitutions trump Florida's law, according to the Orlando Sentinel, which first reported the story.

"I am elated and I am thankful," said Tina, now 41. "I am hoping things will run smoothly from this [point] forward, but it may not be the case.  She is appealing and trying to keep me away from my daughter."

Court papers identify both women only by their initials.  ABC News is withholding Tina's last name to protect her privacy.

Wheelock has asked for a stay of Tina's rights and said the case will surely go to the Florida Supreme Court and, he hopes, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

He would give no personal details about the birth mother, including where she is living with the child.  He said she could not be available to talk to ABC News on "such short notice."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec132011

1.6 Million Kids Homeless -- 40 Percent of Them LGBT

George Doyle/Stockbyte(WASHINGTON) -- A report released by the National Center on Family Homelessness, "America's Youngest Outcasts," finds one in 45 American children 18 and under -- 1.6 million -- live on the street, in homeless shelters, motels or with other families last year.

That number is up 33 percent from 2007.

Of those children, about 20 to 40 percent identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), according to National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

In one study, 26 percent of teens who came out to their parents were told they must leave home. Others said they were physically, sexually or emotionally abused. The task force added that LGBT youth also reported that they are threatened, belittled and abused at shelters, not only by other residents, but by staff, as well.

Resources for homeless LGBT youth are scarce and shelters are at capacity, especially in New York City where the Ali Forney Center (AFC), estimates 3,800 youth are homeless, about 1,600 of them LGBT.

The most common cause of homelessness is family rejection.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov022011

Study: Kids Raised by Gay Couples Are at Risk for Legal Discrimination

BananaStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Two million children in the United States are being raised by lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender parents (LGBT), according to the 2010 Census.

And now a new study, "All Children Matter," concludes that these children have become the "collateral damage" of laws and policies that discriminate against LGBT Americans.

The report comes just as the Senate Judiciary Committee is set to begin debate Nov. 3 on the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman and prohibits the federal government from providing benefits to same-sex couples.

The study was conducted by a coalition of advocacy groups, including the Family Equality Council, the Movement Advancement Project, the Center for American Progress, the National Association of Social Workers, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, and COLAGE, with a foreword by the Child Welfare League of America.

Laws like those in North Carolina deny legal ties to the non-biological parent, having an effect on custody arrangements, inheritance and Social Security survivor benefits in the event of a death of the parent who is a "legal stranger."

They also make adoption impossible for children awaiting homes in those states.

"Even if you are an opponent of gays and lesbians, the fact is, they are already raising kids and these are policies that leave them economically destitute or undermine their family stability," said Ineke Mushovic, one of the study authors from the Movement Advancement Project.

"It's just wrong, and I don't think the majority of Americans and policy makers really understand the lack of recognition for these families has this kind of impact and harms kids," she said.

North Carolina is among the top 12 states where LGBT couples are raising children, but also among those with the least gay-friendly laws.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun202011

Halfway Out: Why Many Stay Closeted in the Workplace

Medioimages/Photodisc(ROCHESTER, N.Y.) -- In a study released Monday from the University of Rochester researchers found that 69 percent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals surveyed are still closeted in some sphere of their life, whether with families, colleagues, or their religious community.

Research repeatedly shows that, in general, coming out is a good thing from a mental health standpoint: people report higher self-esteem, lower rates of anxiety and depression and closer interpersonal relationships.

What Monday's study shows, however, is that this psychological boost varies greatly depending on the environment one comes out to -- when an individual came out in a judgmental environment, there was almost no improvement to emotional well-being, researchers found; in a supportive environment, huge improvements.

This may explain why so many individuals choose to remain closeted in environments most likely to be judgmental -- work, church, or among certain family members.

"What we're seeing is that LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people are quite selective in where they come out. They're sensitive to some of the costs of coming out in an environment that may not be wholly supportive of their sexual orientation," says Richard Ryan, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester and co-author on the study.

"Coming out is a good thing, psychologically speaking, but what we're seeing is that the benefits are balanced out by stigma and non-acceptance in certain environments," says Ryan.

It all boils down to that personal decision of where it's worth it, he says.

Work may prove to be an especially large hurdle for LGBT individuals in the process of coming out. In the Rochester study, half of those surveyed were out among friends or family but not among colleagues or fellow students. In most cases, this was because the workplace was seen as a controlling, non-accepting environment.

"I know friends who wouldn't come out because they feared facing discrimination and a glass ceiling in terms of promotions. I know others who came out in their work place when it was not in the best interest of their career, but it was in the interest of their happiness. It's a choice everyone has to make for themselves," says Gregory Angelo, executive director of Liberty Education Forum, a gay rights think-tank.

But does staying in the closet at work do oneself a disservice? Does it do the gay community a disservice? This is a point of tension between the more radical gay activists and others in the LGBT community.

"There's two sides to coming out -- those who view it as a political statement and those who view it as a personal statement," says Angelo.  "I tend to lean towards it being a personal statement."

Most psychologists would agree with Angelo -- coming out strategically may be the healthiest thing for the individual, depending on their situation.

Rich Savin-Williams, director of the Sex & Gender Lab at Cornell University,  says that he advises his college-aged patients to consider being selective in the way they come out.

"There is a political agenda that some gay people would advocate that everyone must come out everywhere, but from a psychological perspective, treating real people who have to live real lives, I wouldn't say that's a bright thing to do. For college-aged kids, coming out to a conservative family may cut them off financially or the family might withdraw from them school. I've seen both of these things happen and clearly that wasn't the ideal way to come out," he says.

"I think it's smart to at least initially be careful in how we come out and then as we develop the support systems we need, we branch out and take more risks," Savin-Williams says.

The take-home message researchers at the University of Rochester offer? If the psychological benefits of coming out are directly proportional to how accepting the environment is, then we must work to make all environments supportive of sexual identity.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr082011

Report: Gay Americans Make Up Four Percent of Population

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- An estimated nine million Americans -- or nearly four percent of the total population -- say they identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, according to a new report released this week from the Williams Institute, a think tank devoted to LGBT research at UCLA.

Bisexuals make up slightly more than half that group -- 1.8 percent of the total U.S. population -- and they are substantially more likely to be women than men.

The report is the most up-to-date assessment of that population and produced a lower population percentage than the 10 percent number that advocacy groups have used in the past, which was based on Alfred Kinsey studies from 1948.

The new data comes on the heels of another recent report published by the Institute of Medicine for the National Institutes of Health emphasizing the need for more federally funded research on LGBT health problems.

"Sexual orientation is complex, but measurable," said Gary J. Gates, chief researcher and a Williams Distinguished Scholar.  "Hopefully, this will begin to prompt some dialogue on what it means when we say LGBT."

Other key findings were that an estimated 19 million Americans, or 8.2 percent of the population, said they have engaged in same-sex behavior, and 25.6 million, or 11 percent, acknowledged some same-sex attraction.

Gay advocacy groups are hailing the report as a critical first step to inform public policy, research and federal funding.  They say the information is crucial in identifying health and economic disparities, discrimination, domestic partnership benefits and the impact of same-sex marriage.

The report was based on a collection of previous surveys in the United States and around the world.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar312011

More Federal Funding for LGBT Research

Medioimages/Photodisc(WASHINGTON) -- In a landmark moment for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, the Institute of Medicine on Thursday published a report for the National Institutes of Health emphasizing the need for more federally funded research on LGBT health problems.

Those in the LGBT community face rampant discrimination and misinformation when it comes to getting adequate health care. Gaps in practitioner education and overall gaps in available data on the needs, risks and concerns of those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender are identified in the IOM report.

The purpose of the report was to inform the National Institutes of Health on research needs, but many hope it will motivate a range of health care professionals to start collecting data and looking at the specific health problems facing lesbians, gays, bisexuals and lesbians, says Brian Moulton, chief legislative counsel of the Human Rights Campaign.

The report identifies dozens of health findings regarding LGBT health disparities, synthesizing more than 100 studies from the past decades on this topic.

Poor access to health insurance because of discrimination among employee-provided health care to spouses and domestic partners, high rates of mental health problems, including substance abuse, depression and thoughts of suicide, and increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases are just a few of the more pressing concerns identified in the report, says report committee member Judith Bradford, director of the Center or Population Research in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health at the Fenway Institute.

Less publicized health problems include a lack of LGBT training in medical schools, the special health risks experienced by elder LGBTs and a dearth of research into almost all areas of the transgender experience.

Many who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender recognize the IOM report as an enormous step in the direction of health care parity.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar212011

Sex Study Shatters Myth of College Girls Cavorting With Girls

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Sociologists are shaking their heads at a recent study that shatters the myth that college women are more apt to dabble in same-sex experiences than their less-educated counterparts.

For years, terms like "lesbian until graduation," were used to describe a promiscuous college culture where enlightened and emboldened women experimented in bisexuality. Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that women with bachelor's degrees are less likely to have a same-sex experience than those who did not finish high school.

The study was based on data from the 2006-08 National Survey of Family Growth, which attempted to measure sexual behavior, sexual attraction and sexual identity among males and females aged 15 to 44.

Of the 13,500 responses, 10 percent of women aged 22 to 44 with a bachelor's degree said they had had a same sex experience, compared with 15 percent of those with no high school diploma. Women who had completed high school, or had some college, were somewhere in the middle. Six percent of college-educated women reported oral sex with a same-sex partner, compared with 13 percent who did not complete high school.

"Women who have college educations are much more open about it, and that's why we had the impression they were the ones who had done it," said Stephanie Coontz, co-chair and director of public education at the Council on Contemporary Families at the University of Illinoise and author of, A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s.

"They are much more willing to joke about it, even when they haven't done it," she said. "When you actually look at same-sex families, many are working-class and impoverished, raising kids."

According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, more same-sex couples are raising children in economically poorer states like Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas than in places like California and Massachusetts. These families defy the stereotype that mainstream gay America is white, affluent, urban and living in the Northeast or on the West Coast. They are much more socio-economically diverse, according to U.S. Census data.

The CDC report, which was released earlier this month, also showed that the gender gap in same-sex relationships was wide. Twice as many women as men reported same-sex behavior. Three percent of the women -- and 5 percent of the least-educated women -- said they were attracted equally to men and women, compared with one percent of the men. Even though 13 percent of all the women surveyed said they had experienced sex with another woman, the vast majority did not identify themselves as gay or bisexual.

A similar survey in 2002 showed no patterns of educational difference in women's behavior.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio