LGBT Parenting

LGBT Parenting

The ACLU believes that sexual orientation and gender identity should not affect a person’s legal ability to be a parent. In this belief, we are fully supported by reputable child welfare experts and social scientists who study LGBT parenting. We therefore advocate for LGBT people to have equal opportunities to build the kinds of families that they feel are most meaningful to them.

LGBT individuals and couples become parents in a variety of ways, including adoption, foster parenting, donor inse

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LGBT individuals and couples become parents in a variety of ways, including adoption, foster parenting, donor insemination, surrogacy, and having children from previous heterosexual relationships.  The law governing family relationships varies significantly from state-to-state.  We have made great progress in our fight against discrimination targeting LGBT parents and their children, but unfortunately there’s still a lot of work to be done. 

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The ACLU challenges unequal treatment of LGBT parents by courts in child custody cases and policies that exclude LGBT people from becoming adoptive or foster parents.  And in many states, children raised by same-sex couples are denied legally recognized relationships with both of their parents, leaving them vulnerable to the loss of the relationship with and support of a parent.  The ACLU believes that LGBT parents and their children are entitled to the same treatment and legal protections afforded other families and will advocate to make that a reality in every state.

Additional Resources

LGBT & AIDS Project Case Profiles - LGBT Parenting: A listing of all LGBT-related ACLU cases tackling various issues including parenting.

Protecting the Rights of Transgender Parents and their Children: A Guide for Parents and Lawyers: (2013 guide) This guide, a joint publication of the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Center for Transgender Equality, provides information to transgender parents and their attorneys to help them protect parent-child relationships and assist them when faced with disputes over child custody issues.

Too High a Price: The Case Against Restricting Gay Parenting: Social scientists have been studying families headed by lesbians and gay men for more than 20 years. The rich body of research, summarized in this book, proves that parents’ sexual orientation doesn’t matter to children’s development; what matters is having committed, nurturing parents.

The Child Welfare Position: Every mainstream health and child welfare organization has issued policies opposing restrictions on parenting by lesbians and gay men. See what they have to say.


Map of States with Restrictions on Adoption or Fostering by LGB people (PDF)

States with Rules Prohibiting Discrimination in Adoption and/or Fostering Based on Sexual Orientation (PDF)

Map of States Where Same-Sex Couples Are Able to Do Joint or Second Parent Adoption (PDF)

States Where Same-Sex Couples Are Barred From Doing Joint and/or Second Parent Adoptions Statewide (PDF)

Relationship Restrictions Map

Same-Sex Relationship Recognition Map

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