21
Chapter 2
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,
and Transgender
Family Formation
and Demographics
Gary J. Gates
Contents
Introduction ........................................................................................................22
How Common Is Parenting among LGBT People? .............................................22
How Do LGBT People Come to Be Parents?.......................................................23
Relationship to Children ................................................................................23
Geographic Distribution .................................................................................24
Age of Parents .................................................................................................26
Demographic Characteristics of LGBT Families ..................................................27
Sex of Parents..................................................................................................27
Race and Ethnicity ..........................................................................................27
Educational Attainment and Socioeconomic Status ........................................29
Dierences between Same-Sex and Dierent-Sex Couple Families Raising
Adopted Children versus Biological or Stepchildren ............................................30
Geographic Patterns ........................................................................................30
Race and Ethnicity ..........................................................................................30
Educational Attainment and Socioeconomic Status ........................................31
22Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Civil Rights
Introduction
In a review of the academic literature on same-sex parenting, Biblarz and Stacey
(2010) observe that contemporary studies of parenting by same-sex couples have
focused largely on parents who tend to be disproportionately white with relatively
high levels of income and education. Most of this research has focused on same-
sex couples who had their children as openly lesbian or gay couples and through
adoption or some form of assisted-reproduction technology. Our understanding of
transgender parents, single LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) parents,
and same-sex couples who have children from prior dierent-sex relationships is
much more limited.
As data on the LGBT population improves, we now understand that LGBT
families are more geographically, racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse
than much of the academic literature might suggest. Although adoption has been
increasing among LGBT individuals, evidence continues to suggest that the major-
ity of LGBT parents have a biological relationship with their children, likely born
as a result of a dierent-sex relationship that the LGBT parent had when he or she
was relatively young. is chapter will provide analyses from several population-
based data sources that oer a wider demographic portrait of LGBT parents and
families. e analyses will conclude with a discussion of the policy implications
associated with improving the ability of LGBT individuals to parent and raise their
children in safe and nurturing environments.
How Common Is Parenting among LGBT People?
Population-based data that measures parenting in the LGBT community,
particularly data that include transgender individuals, remain relatively rare. e
General Social Survey (GSS), a population-based survey of the U.S. adult popula-
tion conducted every two years by NORC at the University of Chicago, includes
a question about sexual orientation identity and parenting in the 2008, 2010, and
2012 surveys (Smith et al. 2012).
Analyses of those data suggest that approximately 37% of LGB adults indicate
that they have ever had a child. Data from the National Transgender Discrimination
Survey, though not population based, nd that a similar proportion of trans-
gender adults (38%) report that they have had a child. Assuming that there are
approximately 8.2 million LGBT-identied adults in the United States (based on
data from the Gallup Daily tracking survey), the GSS gures imply that approxi-
mately 3 million LGBT adults in the United States have had a child. On average,
Marriage and Childrearing ..................................................................................32
Discussion and Conclusion .................................................................................33
References .......................................................................................................... 34

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