Last Updated June 2020 | Download as a PDF
The LGBTQ+ community at a glance
What do LGBTQ+ families look like?
Like other parents, LGBTQ+ parents are married, unmarried and cohabiting, separated or divorced, and single. There are intact families and blended families, and children who live between households.
How many LGBTQ+ families are there?
Between 2 million and 3.7 million children under age 18 have an LGBTQ+ parent. Many of these children are being raised by a single LGBTQ+ parent, or by a different-sex couple where one parent is bisexual. Approximately 191,000 children are being raised by two same-sex parents. Overall, it is estimated that 29% of LGBTQ+ adults are raising a child who is under 18 (LGBT Demographic Data, 2019; Press Release 2019; Gates, Marriage and Family 2015).
How are LGBTQ+ families formed?
The legal and social climate for LGBTQ+ people has a direct impact on how LGBTQ+ people form families and become parents. Historically, in the face of an anti-LGBTQ+ legal and social climate, LGBTQ+ people have tended to come out later in life, oftentimes after having a different-sex relationship. As such, most children today who are being raised by a same-sex couple were conceived in a different-sex relationship.
However, this trend is changing as the legal and social climate has become more accepting of LGBTQ+ people and same-sex relationships. Today, LGBTQ+ people are coming out earlier in life, and an increasing number of same-sex couples are planning and creating their families through assisted reproductive technology (ART) and surrogacy, as well as adoption and foster care. 63% of LGBTQ+ people planning families expect to use ART, foster care, or adoption to become parents (Family Equality Council 2019; Gates, Marriage and Family 2015).
LGBTQ+ people and same-sex couples are more likely to adopt and foster children, compared to their non-LGBTQ counterparts; specifically, same-sex couples are seven times more likely to foster or adopt than different-sex couples (Goldberg 2018).
LGBTQ+ families at a glance
Discrimination against LGBTQ+ families
The LGBTQ+ community has seen considerable legal and social progress in recent years. However, anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination and social stigma remain.