About rainbow and same-sex families
Love is what makes a rainbow family, just like love makes any kind of family.
Rainbow families come together in many ways, just as many other families do – through fostering, adoption, sperm, egg or embryo conception, natural conception, surrogacy, blending families from previous relationships and so on.
And rainbow families have all kinds of parenting and family arrangements, just as all families do. That is, rainbow families might have one or two parents, parents who live together and parents who don’t, children who move between two homes and so on.
Rainbow families have varying cultural backgrounds, earn varying amounts of money, and live in urban, suburban and regional parts of Australia – they’re as similar and different as non-rainbow families.
Children in rainbow and same-sex families
There’s been a lot of research into how children do in families headed by gay or lesbian couples.
The research is clear: children raised in families with gay or lesbian parents are as healthy, feel as good about themselves and do as well at school as children raised in families with heterosexual parents.
What matters to children is what their parents do. When parents raise their children in nurturing, warm, sensitive, responsive and flexible ways, children grow and develop well. And gay and lesbian parents bring the same skills, strengths and abilities to raising children as heterosexual parents do.
Also, research with children of parents who’ve transitioned gender shows that these children also cope well, do as well as other children, and mostly have positive and happy relationships with their parents.
Challenges for rainbow and same-sex families
All families navigate challenges as their children grow and develop. Many of these challenges are the same for rainbow and same-sex families and other families. But parents in rainbow families might have to navigate some unique challenges, like discrimination or a lack of understanding of their needs.
Same-sex and gender-diverse people can face challenges in becoming parents. They might have concerns about assisted reproductive technologies, surrogacy laws, or opportunities for adoption and fostering.
Legal rights and entitlements
Parents in rainbow and same-sex families might be worried about their legal rights and entitlements. For example, if they have children from a previous relationship, they might be concerned about custody issues just like other parents, but they might also be worried that their sexual orientation or gender identity might affect custody.
Parents in diverse families might be worried that they, their family or their children will experience discrimination. For example, they might be concerned about discriminatory attitudes within their own families or communities. They might also have concerns about the attitudes of professionals like service and health care providers, child care providers and teachers.
Discrimination can be obvious, like violence or threats. But it can also be subtle, like service providers assuming that families have two heterosexual parents. This means that rainbow and same-sex families have to ‘come out’ every time they talk to service providers.
Having parents who identify as LGBTIQA+ can sometimes make it more likely that children will experience teasing or bullying. But this can depend on how accepting the community is of rainbow families. Building children’s resilience can help them cope better if they do experience bullying.