Today, a coalition of public policy and family advocacy organizations released “LGBT Families of Color: Facts at a Glance,” which sheds light on the disparate impact of outdated laws and family policies on LGBT families of color and their children. The publication explores the challenges that LGBT Families of color face on a daily basis and dispels the myth often perpetuated in the media that LGBT families are largely white and middle class.
According to “LGBT Families of Color,” there are roughly 2 million children in the United States being raised in LGBT families and 41 percent of these families are people of color. Both black and Latino same-sex couples are more likely to raise children than white same- sex couples. Black lesbians for example are twice as likely to be raising children as their white lesbian counterparts. The report also notes that:
Children of color, in particular, are more likely to be raised in diverse family configurations that include de facto parents and are more likely to be raised by LGBT parents. Therefore, antiquated laws have a disproportionately negative impact on children of color.
An alarming number of LGBT families of color are living in poverty. For example, 32 percent of children being raised by black same-sex couples are living in poverty compared to 7 percent of children raised by married heterosexual white parents. Yet many of these families, simply because they are LGBT, are denied access to safety net programs and federal and state tax benefits that would improve their economic situations.
LGBT families of color also experience higher rates of unemployment, or underemployment, which disrupts their access to quality healthcare since the majority of Americans rely on employer-sponsored health plans. Nonetheless, access to coverage does not always bridge the gap for these families, since most of these plans do not cover same-sex partners or their non-biological children. LGBT families of color, who are already economically insecure, may have to face the steep cost of purchasing private insurance to cover their families (or simply go without).
Stigma and discrimination further erodes these families’ overall wellbeing. The fact sheet touches on the dual burden of social stigma and discrimination LGBT families of color and their children face. These families are not only subject to racial/ethnic stereotypes and discrimination – they also face invisibility within the boarder communities to which they belong. Moreover, their children may be bullied or harassed based on their own race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity—or that of their parents.
Fortunately, some common-sense solutions can be employed that would help to eliminate or reduce the legal inequalities and social stigma that hurt LGBT families of color, especially their children. They include:
– Legally recognizing LGBT families of color via parental recognition laws at the state level; allowing same-sex couples to marry; and providing pathways to immigration and U.S. citizenship for binational and immigrant LGBT families.
– Providing equal access to government-based economic protections such as safety net programs by adopting a consistent and broad definition of family within these programs (i.e. domestic partners).
– Providing equal access to health care and health insurance, as well as medical decision-making authority for all families.
– Protecting LGBT families of color and their children with non-discrimination employment and public accommodation laws and anti-bullying policies.