New Chapter in ‘Future of Children’ Explores What’s Next for Research on LGBT Families

For Immediate Distribution
Oct. 14, 2015

Lauren Jow,, 310-206-0314

LOS ANGELES — A chapter on LGBT families released today in the newest issue of “The Future of Children” summarizes the demographic characteristics of LGBT families, assesses the role of social science in debates about marriage equality and highlights new areas of family research.

Authored by Gary J. Gates, Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and Research Director at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, the chapter notes that as same-sex couples marry, new research can focus more on how the dynamics of LGBT parenting and families can provide insights into the functioning of all families, regardless of the gender composition, sexual orientation, or gender identity of parents.

“With the resolution of the national debate on marriage equality, scholars can focus their research on new and interesting topics such as differences in the division of labor between same-sex and different-sex married couples,” Gates said.

Key findings from the chapter include:

• Compared to a decade ago, same-sex couples today may be less likely to have children, but those who do are more likely to have children who were born with same-sex parents who are in stable relationships.

• The 2014 General Social Survey marks the first time that the portion of Americans who think same-sex sexual relationships are never wrong (49 percent) is substantially higher than the proportion who say such relationships are always wrong (40 percent).

• In analyses of the 1992 National Health and Social Life Survey, a population-based survey of adults focused on sexual attitudes and behaviors, 19 percent of men who identified as gay and 42 percent of women who identified as lesbian reported being in a cohabiting partnership. In a 2013 Pew Research survey of LGBT people, 40 percent of gay men and 66 percent of lesbians reported that they were in committed relationships.

• Thirty-seven percent of LGBT people have been parents and between 2 million to 3.7 million children under age 18 may have an LGBT parent.

As debates about marriage equality cool, scholars can work in a less volatile political and social environment and advance much-needed research on parenting and family formation in the LGBT population. New research questions could include:

• How parents divide labor in the absence of gender differences between spouses or partners

• Whether parent-child relationships change in ways that are consistent with gender norms when a parent transitions from one gender to another

A collaboration between the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and the Brookings Institution, “The Future of Children” is a journal that translates the best social science research about children and youth into information that is useful to policymakers, practitioners, grant-makers, advocates, the media, and students of public policy.

Click here for the chapter.

Click here for the full issue.