1st study of gay parents in Ireland
Reposted from Irish Health: http://www.irishhealth.com/article.html?id=21692
Around one in seven lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) parents has no legal status as a parent, despite having an active parenting role with their child , a new study has found.
This marks the first study into LGBT parents in Ireland. It includes the experiences of 153 LGBT people who are already parents to 272 children and 170 people who are actively attempting to become parents.
Of the parents who took part, six in 10 were lesbian, almost one in four was bisexual and one in 10 was gay.
At least two in three were the biological parents to the children involved.
"While over half had become parents through a previous heterosexual relationship, the remainder (49%) had done so through other pathways, such as assisted human reproduction (AHR)," the study noted.
Only a small number had become parents through fostering, adoption and surrogacy.
Of those who had used AHR services, almost one in three rated the service as ‘poor' or ‘very bad'.
"A sizeable majority (71%) had positive experiences of maternity services. However, in-depth interviews revealed that respondents had actively sought out maternity services and consultants that they knew to be LGBT friendly in their practices," the study pointed out.
In relation to the children's schooling, levels of bullying targeted at the children were low, however, ‘a number of interviewees reported homophobic incidents occurring at their children's schools involving other students and some staff members'.
Meanwhile, the study noted that while many LGBT parents are legal guardians to the children they parent, 16% have no legal status as parents, despite them playing an active parenting role in the child's life.
"This represents 51 children who are being parented by an individual with whom they have no legal relationship," the study stated.
In relation to the people who were planning to become parents, almost three in four planned to do this using AHR. Two in three of these were planning to do this in a private clinic in Ireland, while one in three planned to travel overseas.
The remainder planed to foster, adopt or use a surrogate.
At least two in five of those planning to become parents did not know what legal status they would have as parents.
Meanwhile, the study revealed that 46% of LGBT parents had been discriminated against in the last five years. For example, one parent commented that ‘there are plenty of parents who won't let their kids come and play in my house'.
"The overriding concern for all parents was in relation to legal vulnerability. Concern was shared equally between those parents with a legal status and those without a legal status, as a parent.
"Concern was also expressed in relation to the inability of a parent, who is not a legal guardian, to give consent in the event of emergency medical treatment being required by their child," the study found.
It also noted that transgender parents in particular experienced ‘significant discrimination in terms of lack of acceptance, hostile reactions and sustained negative attitudes'. These attitudes, the study said, mainly came from family members.
The study makes a number of recommendations, including legislating for the extension of guardianship/parental responsibility to all those who have a parental relationship with the child, as well as providing same-sex partners with the right to have both their names on a child's birth certificate.
The study was commissioned by LBGT Diversity and was carried out by Dr Jane Pillinger and Paula Fagan.