An excerpt from “Family Pride: What LGBT Families Should Know about Navigating Home, School, and Safety in Their Neighborhoods“, by Michael Shelton is the first book for LGBT parents, their families, and allies that emphasizes community and safety.
For same-sex parents, knowing the facts about a community’s diversity and inclusiveness are of resounding importance in their selection of a new home.
Recent research on LGBT-parented families informs us that:
- Twelve to twenty percent of LGBT couples are raising children; another estimate is that one third to one half of lesbian and bisexual women and twenty percent of gay and bisexual men have a child.
- Same-sex couples of color are more likely than their white counterparts to be raising children.
- Gay men and lesbians raising children are more likely to be living in southern and/or rural states.
We also know that many LGBT families are moving from less hospitable regions of the country into geographical areas known to be welcoming. What information then should REALTORS have readily available when working with LGBT families? Consider beginning with the selection criteria of the Human Rights Campaign’s 2011 “On the Road to Equality” tour, which targeted states less welcoming of LGBTs. The HRC looked at these states’ legal recognition of LGBT relationships, nondiscrimination laws, marriage amendments to the state constitution, and inclusion of sexual orientation and/or gender identity into their hate crimes laws (or if such a law even existed in a particular state). HRC statewide criteria of particular relevance to LGBT parents were laws regarding second-parent adoptions, safe schools policies, and statutes restricting positive discussions of LGBT issues in schools.
At the local level, the LGBT parents I interviewed for my book Family Pride: What LGBT Families Should Know about Navigating Home, School, and Safety in Their Neighborhoods consistently reported their most pressing concern was the safety of their children, who experience a multitude of problems, including avoidance, harassment, bullying, and violence. The also questioned:
- How the local government treats its LGBT employees, including domestic partner benefits, legal dependent benefits, and family leave policies
- Whether local public schools actively endorse heterosexuality as the “normal” and “right way to live”
- The availability of religious institution supporting LGBTs
- The relationship between local police enforcement and the LGBT community
- The availability of professional resources (medical and mental health providers) open to working with LGBT’s.
While some LGBT families are fortunate to live in communities that welcome and even celebrate diversity, the majority lives in areas in which their treatment ranges from indifference and marginalization to censure and hostility. Many will ultimately seek out the opportunity to relocate to a new neighborhood, a new city, or even a new state, and REALTORS will play no small role in this exodus.