LGBT families are part of the American fabric. Two million children are being raised by lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender parents. Children of gay and lesbian parents live in 96% of U.S. counties—and decades of research shows that those children grow up as happy, healthy and well-adjusted as their peers.
Despite this, some states have passed laws that seek to permit discrimination by social service agencies limiting the number of qualified families available to provide forever homes to children in state care. Other states have proactively sought to ensure that LGBT people can adopt without fear of discrimination.
The following resources offer an overview of the laws and policies impacting LGBT families in the United States, including the “Kids Pay the Price” report series focused on the child welfare system and the “All Children Matter” series released in partnership with several LGBT organizations and child advocacy organization.
July 2018 - When states allow child services decisions to be based on religious beliefs and not the best interests of kids, it’s kids who pay the price. Learn more in this powerful new ad from MAP that FOX News Channel refused to air. For more on the campaign, visit KidsPayThePrice.org.
July 2018 – An amendment to a federal appropriations bill seeks to create a license to discriminate for child welfare providers, prioritizes the interests of providers over the welfare of children, reduces the likelihood that the most vulnerable children will find stability, and cuts more than $1.04 billion to state child welfare budgets. The more than 395,000 children in the child welfare system across the country will pay the price.
June 2018 – Authored by MAP and the Family Equality Council Putting Children at Risk: How Efforts to Undermine Marriage Equality Harm Children highlights how recent efforts to undermine marriage equality and protections for LGBT families pose a profound threat to the children in these families.
February, 2018 - This policy brief, authored by MAP and the Family Equality Council, in partnership with the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), offers a snapshot of the impact of discriminatory foster and adoption laws on the thousands of children waiting to be adopted in the seven states where these laws currently exist, the high stakes of passing similar laws in other states, and offers recommendations for supporting children in care.
September 2017 - This report details how religious exemptions for child welfare providers hurt children and vulnerable families. Agencies that provide services to children and parents should focus on providing loving, stable homes for children and helping families in need. Instead, these laws encourage and enable adoption agencies and their workers to reject qualified parents who don’t share the agency’s or worker’s religious beliefs.
April 2017 - Texas House Bill 3859 would allow child-placement agencies to impose their beliefs on and discriminate against children and families while providing taxpayer-funded services. Agencies would be allowed to make placement decisions based on their religious beliefs, hurting the more than 28,000 children in the care of the state, including nearly 7,000 children awaiting adoption.
March 2017 - Learn about Alabama House Bill 24, which would allow child-placement agencies to make placement decisions based on their own religious beliefs, hurting the more than 4,745 children in the care of the state of Alabama, including more than 1,020 children who are awaiting adoption. HB 24 would allow child-placement agencies to impose their beliefs on and discriminate against children and families while providing services paid for with taxpayer money.
March 2017 - To explain why the First Amendment Defense Act is so devastating and should not be re-introduced, this brief provides an analysis of the 2015 version of FADA and what it could mean for 10 million lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, along with millions of others. The brief underscores how vigilant we must be to ensure that a license to discriminate is not written into our laws.
THIS REPORT HAS BEEN UPDATED
March 2017 - Read about religious exemption legislation that would allow child placement and adoption agencies to discriminate against loving families while providing government services paid for with taxpayer money. These laws enable adoption agencies and their workers to reject parents who don’t share the agency’s or worker’s religious beliefs, legally prioritizing those beliefs over the best interests of children.
March 2017 - Some states have introduced legislation to create broad religious exemptions allowing discrimination in taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care services. Such laws would allow adoption agencies and child services workers to make decisions for children in their care based on their religious beliefs, rather than the best interests of the child. Learn how to talk about these harmful laws which deprive children of loving homes.
March 2017 - Senate Bill 149 allows child-placement agencies to make placement and child treatment decisions based on their own religious beliefs, as opposed to following standards that advance the best interests of children. SB 149 would allow child-placement agencies to impose their beliefs on others and to discriminate against children and families, all while providing services paid for with taxpayer money.
February 2017 - To help make sense of the current policy landscape in the states, this report looks at legal equality for transgender people across the country. The gender identity tally is comprised of 25 state laws and policies in five key categories: Non-Discrimination, LGBT Youth, Health and Safety, Ability to Correct the Name and Gender Marker on Identity Documents, and Adoption and Parenting.
August 2016 - Medical decision-making policies govern whether an LGBT person can make medical decisions for their same-sex partner or spouse, if their partner or spouse is incapacitated or otherwise not able to make their own decisions.
August 2016 - State family leave laws covering same-sex couples govern whether an LGBT person can take leave from work to care for his/her same-sex spouse or partner.
August 2016 - Foster care non-discrimination laws protect LGBT foster parents from discrimination by foster care agencies and officials. Some states explicitly restrict foster care by same-sex parents. Other states ban adoption by unmarried couples, effectively resulting in a ban on foster care by same-sex couples if marriage for same-sex couples is not available in that state.
August 2016 - Donor insemination laws apply when women in a same-sex relationship have a child through donor insemination, granting legal parenting rights to the non-biological mother as well as the birth mother. De facto parenting laws apply when someone is raising a child but is not a legal parent of that child. De Facto parenting laws provide these parents with some limited legal rights to the child.
August 2016 - This map shows the percent of same-sex couples raising children based on data from the 2010 Census, conducted by the Census Bureau, and analyzed by The Williams Institute.
October 2012 - Access easy-to-navigate charts, maps and tables examining key population data on LGBT families, snapshots of how laws and policies hurt children with LGBT parents at the federal and state levels, and more in this companion document to All Children Matter.
July 2012 - Learn how the lack of legal recognition for LGBT families hurts children—and how state policymakers can draft, pass and enact laws that protect all children, including those living with LGBT parents and in other contemporary family structures.
June 2012 - MAP, Family Equality Council, the Center for American Progress, the ACLU and the Human Rights Campaign report on how LGBT families can help fill the pressing need for loving, stable foster and adoptive homes for waiting children.
June 2012 - Focus conversations about parenting, adoption and LGBT parents on how they create loving, stable homes for kids and help ensure that children have the nurturing environment that allows them to thrive and succeed.
April 2012 - MAP, Family Equality Council and the Center for American Progress report on the income tax inequities faced by LGBT families, and how they are denied tax exemptions, credits and deductions that help families ease the financial burdens of raising children.
March 2012 - MAP, Family Equality Council, the Center for American Progress and the National Coalition for LGBT Health examine the obstacles faced by LGBT families as they seek access to a range of health services, health insurance, and equitable tax treatment.
January 2012 - MAP, Family Equality Council, the Center for American Progress and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) report on how inequitable laws hurt children with LGBT parents and contribute to higher rates of child poverty.
January 2012 - Outdated laws that ignore contemporary families have a disproportionately negative impact on children of color. This brief looks at LGBT families of color and how they can be devastated by intersections of laws, stigma and race-based discrimination.
November 2011 - MAP, Family Equality Council and the Center for American Progress partner with the Human Rights Campaign and Freedom to Marry to examine how DOMA denies children basic rights and safety nets—just because their parents are gay.
October 2011 - Read the comprehensive analysis of how our nation’s laws and policies fail to protect 2 million children with LGBT parents—and how common-sense solutions could end the inequalities that create barriers for children in LGBT families.
October 2011 - This 34-page “digest” version of All Children Matter provides a high-level understanding of how legal and social inequalities hurt children of LGBT families—and how children have become collateral damage of laws designed to hurt LGBT people.
October 2011 - This executive summary—featured in the Full Report of All Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequalities Hurt LGBT Families—provides key findings in capsule form, as well as an overview of the report's policy recommendations.
October 2011 - This 60-second video highlights some of the specific legal and social inequalities—from the denial of access to a parent’s health insurance coverage to the denial of legal protections if a parent becomes disabled or dies—that hurt children of LGBT parents.