A recent study just released by the Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles, shows that fifty percent of 17-year-olds who grew up in lesbian-headed families in the United States have experienced stigmatization.
The study goes on to show that not only do the negative comments, teasing, and ridicule come most often from teens’ peers, but that a majority of these teens have coping mechanisms in place.
Most teenagers tried to comfort themselves while others confronted the perpetrators to make it clear that teasing and ridicule were unacceptable. Some choose to be with friends who were supportive of their family situation, or looked for social support by telling others what happened. Other teens, however, used coping skills that were less effective, such as trying to avoid confrontation. For example, one teenager said, “I soon learned to keep my mouth shut and use the term ‘parents’ instead of ‘moms’.”
A key part of the study reveals that the overall rates of teasing experienced in lesbian-mother families do not differ from those reported in heterosexual families, which is consistent with previous research in this area.
So what does this mean for our families?
The study seems to indicate that our children are faring no worse socially than children being raised in heterosexual families, and that we’re doing a good job of giving our children the tools they need to cope when bullying happens.
Of course this is not true for every child or every family.
Many parents are already aware of what’s happening in the lives of their children. As this study shows, the bulk of teasing and bullying happens in schools, and it’s imperative for parents to know what policies are in place to ensure the safety and security of their children during the school day.
We have tools and resources available for parents to get involved in the decision making process and to make their children’s’ schools more inclusive, but it’s up to each of us to use them and get involved.