Floorish Newsletter 👩👩👦 Lesbian Parental Rights

Welcome to the fourth edition of the Floorish newsletter dedicated to providing you with insightful data, ideas and views on diversity, equity and inclusion. In this newsletter, taking no more than 3 minutes of your time, I aim to keep you informed and inspired with thought-provoking content, practical tips and inspiring stories.

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Yesterday started like any other day, with simple pleasures like drinking coffee and turning our couch into a ‘castle’ for my son. However, amidst the routines, I came across distressing news: Italy begins removing gay mothers from children’s birth certificates.

As a non-biological lesbian mom myself, this revelation hit me like a bomb, questioning how, in 2023, such regressive policies could appear. The fact that only the recognised biological mother retains parenting rights, potentially leaving children vulnerable if she were to pass away, seemed unimaginable.

A trip to the playground left me feeling melancholic. In my thoughts, the challenges that lesbian couples encounter in starting a family were at the forefront. I couldn’t help but recognise the remarkable devotion most lesbian parents have towards their children, but it also alarmed me how abruptly their rights can be taken away. Moreover, I found myself anxiously wondering about the potential impact and inspiration this news might have on others.

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Lesbian Children’s Well-being

  1. Children with gay, lesbian, transgender or other sexual minority parents fare as well as, or better than, children with parents of the opposite sex, according to research published in BMJ Global Health. According to certain metrics, children of sexual minority parents actually demonstrated better performance than their peers from traditional families, particularly in areas of psychological adjustment and child-parent relationships. Growing up with sexual minority parents might offer some advantages to children, possibly due to their greater tolerance of diversity and nurturing tendencies towards younger children compared to heterosexual parents. However, researchers cautioned that being part of a sexual minority family also comes with significant risks, including social stigma, discrimination, and lack of social support.
  2. The authors of a paper published for the American Sociological Association concluded there was clear consensus in the scientific literature that children raised by same-sex couples fared as well as children raised by opposite-sex couples. This applied to a range of well-being measures, including academic performance, cognitive development, social development, psychological health, early sexual activity, and substance abuse. The authors noted that differences in child well-being were largely due to socioeconomic circumstances and family stability.
  3. A study published in the BMC Public Health Journal showed that children and adolescents raised by same-sex parents in Australia fared as well as children of opposite-sex parents, and better on measures of general behaviour, general health and family cohesion. The study also highlighted that stigma related to a parent’s sexual orientation is negatively associated with the mental health and well-being of their children.

Lesbian Parents’ Skills

  1. Research published in the Journal of Marriage and Family compared parenting skills and behaviour between lesbian and heterosexual mothers. The study concluded that there were no significant differences between lesbian mothers and heterosexual mothers in terms of their parenting abilities or the emotional bonds they formed with their children. This finding suggested that the sexual orientation of the mothers did not play a significant role in determining their parenting skills or the quality of their relationships with their children.
  2. Research published in Attachment & Human Development delved into the social-emotional dynamics when only one parent is the biological mother. The study revealed that mothers’ life-long attachment experiences and related mental states of mind, rather than biological relatedness between the parent and child, matter in a mother and child’s emotional involvement in parent-child interaction. 
  3. A study in Human Reproduction aimed to investigate whether families formed through shared biological motherhood, where one woman gives birth to her female partner’s genetic child, resulted in more positive mother–child relationships than families created via donor insemination, where only one mother is biologically related to the child. They found that families formed through shared biological motherhood did not differ from families created by donor-IVF in terms of the quality of mothers’ relationships with their children.
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Throughout the day, the weight of the news from Italy stayed with me. At 8:30, I finally sank into the couch, motivated to write this blog. It felt unnecessary to seek research to validate the parenting abilities of a lesbian couple or question the role of the non-biological mother. Love knows no boundaries, and our capabilities as parents should never be questioned based on our sexual orientation. Society’s stigma against non-traditional families affects the well-being of their children, not the inherent abilities of the parents. Therefore, what needs to change is how rainbow families are treated, as their existence is an undeniable reality.

This news is a poignant reminder that the fight for equality and empowerment is an ongoing journey. We must continue to raise our voices, stand up for our rights, and embrace our identities with pride. Let us shatter stereotypes, challenge misconceptions, and show the world that love is love, and it knows no boundaries.

But for now, I’ll turn my attention back to my son. It’s Friday, my favourite day of the week, reserved for Natan, me, and our adventures together.

I hope these insights have sparked your curiosity and I invite you to share any data, ideas or views you believe should be highlighted in future newsletters. Stay tuned for the next edition.

Warm regards,

Floor Martens

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