Å ha foreldre av samme kjønn - hvordan er det, og hvor mange gjelder det?
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The report has to parts. First we present a knowledge review concerning the situation of children and young people with parents who are LGBT. In the second part we discuss statistical information about how many children and young people in Norway who grow up in families where at least one parent is LGBT. The knowledge review The review discusses two issues. The first is to generate better knowledge about children who grow up in families where at least one parent is LGBT through an update of recent Norwegian and international research. The research includes adoptive and foster homes as well. Second an objective has been to map areas where knowledge is lacking, and formulate relevant research questions. Going through data bases in English and the Nordic languages resulted in 342 hits. In addition we used the snowball method and hand searches of relevant journals. After assessing the material we had collected, 44 studies published between 1989 and 2012 were included in the review, mostly from the UK, USA, or the Netherlands. It became very quickly apparent that most of the existing research literature concerns lesbian families, and that many publications were generated by the same research groups about one or a couple of projects. Research involving two gay parents has become slightly more common during later years, but is, still, significantly less prominent. In addition it has been well nigh impossible to find studies of bisexual or transgender parents. Studies of children who are adopted or fostered by LGBT parents are fairly rare as well. Consequently we were able to pinpoint serious holes in existing knowledge from the outset. The review starts in chapter 2, where literature concerning different ways children become family members when at least one parent is LGBT are presented. Here, an important distinction exists between children born in a heterosexual relationship where one, possibly both parents later come out as LGBT, as opposed to children who are born into families where one or both parents already identify themselves as LGBT. As is to be expected, older studies are more concerned with the former of these groups, while more recent studies are more concerned with the latter category. In chapter 3 we discuss research on correlations and consequences of children and young people’s situation and well-being and the sexual orientation of the parents. The chapter covers two main themes. We have chosen to call the first theme neutral consequences because this relates to children and young people’s sexual identity, sex roles and sexual orientation. Here one mainly finds neglible differences due to the family situation. Most children with lhbt parents identify themselves as heterosexual. At the same time a more open attitude towards experimenting with different sexual expressions has been noted. The second theme in chapter three is potentially problematic consequences for children and young people, for instance regarding mental health, social functioning, school achievement or bullying. Again it must be underlined that most of the existing research concerns lesbian mothers, in many studies compared to single, heterosexual mothers or mothers living with the fathers of their children. In general we conclude that few differences between the groups are found, and that some differences are in faviour of lesbian families. A reasonable conclusion is that one should not view the sexual orientation of the parents as the significant factor. Rather, there is the question of the kind of care and conditions for development the parents offer their children. With regard to problem development on the part of the children, one will, rather, be concerned with risk factors commonly associated with the care environment like poor mental health and substance abuse on the part of the parents, poverty, and messy divorces, etc. In chapter four the focus changes to research on the relationship between children and parents when one or both parents are LGBT. Here we have found studies reporting the viewpoints of children as well as parents, and adoptive homes. However, studies of lesbian families still predominate. Again the studies find few differences between children’s situation which can be attributed to the sexual orientation of the parents. As well, some of the results justify raising the question of whether the parents’ gender means more than their sexual orientation, to the extent that it may seem as if women may have other and more close relations with their children than men have. As most of the research we have found mostly find few differences attributable to the parents’ sexual orientation, chapter 5 briefly discusses risk factors for problem development among children and young people. We argue that these have greater significance than the parents’ sexual orientation. An important result from the review is that studies which build on the perspectives of grown-ups and standardized assessments of the children and young people generally have another focus than that presented through interviews with children and young people. In chapter 6 we show that when children and young people are asked directly, they are mostly concerned with aspects like their parents’ openness in the local community, possible bullying because of their parents’ sexual orientation, functional coping strategies, and LGBT organizations and environments as a resource. Thus, this chapter illustrates the diversity in children and young people’s perspectives, which necessitates an open attitude to their daily lives. In addition it is necessary to accept that different ways of relating to the world outside of the family can be equally useful. Research about children and young people with LGBT parents, which primarily concerns lesbian families, is frequently criticized as being methodologically weak. This has to do with small samples, often convenience samples, insufficient matching with comparison groups, etc. As well some will criticize the research for being too intent on «proving» that LGBT parents are at least as good parents as others. Such a politicized focus may be seen in relation to the fact that the research in this field started during the 1970ies, in the wake of lesbian mothers losing custody of their children in cases of divorce because of their sexual orientation. Thus the context of the research is different today, which will, probably lead to other approaches to the research. Chapter 8 ends the review with a series of suggestions for future research based on the identified knowledge gaps. First, we argue that there is a need for better phenomenological descriptions about what growing up with LGBT parents is like. In addition it would be interesting to investigate more closely the significance of different ways of becoming part of the family for the children, and whether the parents’ being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transpersons means different things – in other words an in-group comparison within LGBT. Further, there is a great lack of research on the situation of children sharing their lives between more than one base, where parents who are LGBT are a part. An important question her will, as well, be the significance of relationships between children, parents, and the extended family and network, which is not at all discussed in the studies we have found. Finally we discuss the need for research on foster and adoptive families, and lastly the question of LGBT parents’ interaction on important arenas in their children’s daily lives. Here, collaboration with helping services are of great significance. Since we are talking about large knowledge gaps, we finally argue that it would be wise to pool research resources into few, large, preferably longitudinal studies about the well-being of children and young people with LGBT parents, rather that distributing the resources between many small projects. How many children and young people? The second part of the report discusses the possibilities of estimating how many children and young people in Norway who grow up in families where at least one parent is LGBT. Second, we discuss possibilities and limitations associated with available statistics. One important conclusion is that existing statistics can answer a few questions, associated with the number of same-sex parents with children from a former relationship, the amount of step child adoptions by same-sex couples, and the amount of children registered as being born as the result of donor insemination, assisted fertilization or the use of surrogate mothers. The diversity where children with LGBT parents is concerned is, however, significantly greater than described by official statistics. Consequently these statistics are far from sufficient in significant areas which could have given more precise information. For instance we do not know the rate of single parents who are LGBT, nor the amount of families where the mother or father, or/and their spouses/partners, are LGBT. The results presented in this part of the report must, thus, be seen as a starting point of important work directed at generating better knowledge. This part of the reports concludes with some suggestions for further research as well. First, we propose a survey based study to members of relevant organizations and via other channels, for instance web-based, but aiming at map the situation in Norway. Second we propose that foster care and adoption services are contacted directly to map the prevalence of LGBT foster and adoptive parents. Third, we propose that Statistics Norway is asked to do special analyses of the degree of contact between children of divorce and their parents, when one or both parents are LGBT.Denne rapporten har to deler. I første del presenteres nordisk og annen internasjonal forskning om situasjonen til barn og unge med foreldre som er lesbiske, homofile, bifile og transpersoner (lhbt). Forskningen dreier seg om betydningen av hvordan barnet er kommet inn i familien, om det er signifikante forskjeller mellom barn og unge i lhbt-familier og andre familier når det gjelder seksuell orientering, mental helse, sosial tilpasning, skoleprestasjoner og mobbing. Dessuten undersøkes barn og unges egne oppfatninger. Gjennomgangen har bidratt med mye ny kunnskap, og peker på viktige, udekkede områder som bør utforskes framover. I tillegg diskuteres muligheter og begrensninger når det gjelder å beregne hvor mange barn og unge i Norge som har lhbt-foreldre.