Two thirds of gay dads and their children face stigma

A recent study has found that while there has been an increase in same-sex families, gay dads and their children continue to encounter prejudice.

Two men and a baby.

A study entitled ‘Barriers and Stigma Experienced by Gay Fathers’ has found that a majority of gay dads and their children have experienced an increase in social stigma in recent times.

The research was based on the responses of 732 gay men with children across 47 states in the US.

One of the study’s main findings was that most prejudice was felt by parents and their children in religious settings:

“Among fathers who identified with a particular religion, the likelihood of having experienced stigma in a religious context was directly associated with the tolerance ranking of the religious group with which they affiliated: greater tolerance was associated with a lower probability of having experienced active stigma.”

The results of the study continued:

“Almost one third of respondents affiliated with a religious community had avoided such contexts in anticipation of stigma.”

Stigma was experienced by parents and their children outside of religious settings. Respondents cited family members, neighbours, and even other LGBT+ friends and acquaintances as sources of stigma when it came to parenting.

Furthermore, the research indicated that there has been an overall increase in gay men becoming fathers through adoption, surrogacy and foster care:

“Adoption and surrogacy, two routes dependent on systems supporting the formation of families, have been increasingly common in recent years and in states with more legal protections, whereas heterosexual relationships were more common in earlier years and in states with fewer protections.”


Despite the overall gradual increase of gay men becoming fathers, stigma and prejudice remain widespread. The study found that gay dads and their families were more likely to encounter stigma in areas with fewer rights for LGBT+ people and their children:

“Respondents reported experiencing difficulties in the process of becoming fathers by all methods, more often in states with fewer legal protections.”

The study also noted a definite decrease in the number of gay men whose children were born through heterosexual relationships.

The paper’s conclusion read:

“Despite growing acceptance of parenting by same-gender adults, barriers and stigmas persist. States’ legal and social protections for lesbian and gay individuals and families appear to be effective in reducing experiences of stigma for gay fathers.”

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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