School Experiences of Young Children and Their Lesbian and Gay Adoptive Parents

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While ample literature exists about psychosocial outcomes for children with lesbian and gay (LG) parents (e.g., Moore & Stambolis-Ruhstorfer, 2013), less is known about their school experiences. This study examined school-age children’s behavioral adjustment and school experiences from 96 LG parents, their 50 children, and 48 teachers of these children. Participants were from the second wave (W2) of a larger study (Farr et al., 2010). Fifty-four same-sex parent families were recruited through five private domestic infant adoption agencies. Children averaged 8 years old at W2. Parents and teachers completed the Child Behavior Checklist and Teacher Report Form; children and parents were interviewed about school experiences, teasing, and bullying. Transcribed interviews were coded, including children’s microaggression experiences. Results showed that parents and teachers reported few child behavior problems, comparable to population averages. Moreover, 98% of parents reported their children had adjusted well to school; 95 of 96 parents felt supported by schools. While only 8% of parents reported that their children had been teased or bullied for having LG parents, these four children also perceived more microaggressions and were reported to have more behavior problems by parents and teachers. Thus, school-age children adopted by LG parents appear to be well adjusted overall. Bullied child participants, however, exhibited more behavioral difficulties based on parent and teacher report. Thus, despite school support around family structure, children with LG parents may experience unique challenges related to family structure during early school years. Implications for educational policy and practice are discussed.

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