Celebrating and Supporting LGBTQ+ Families

Every June, as businesses and individuals celebrate Pride Month on social media, I find myself wondering: Where are the families who look like mine?

Although non-hetero families do not make-up a majority of our population, we are here and we are strong! It is estimated that 29% of LGBTQ+ identifying adults are raising a child under the age of 18 (Family Equality Council, 2019) meaning somewhere between 2 and 3.7 million children under 18 have an LGBTQ+ parent (Family Equality Council, 2019). The amount of LGBTQ+ families is continuing to grow due to marriage equality and increased access to resources for family planning such as surrogacy, adoption, and IVF have become available. Here in the Midwest, we have one of the largest populations of LGBTQ+ families with children under 18, and yet we infrequently see them represented for their unique strengths and lived experiences (Movement Advancement Project, 2019).

Our families, much like hetero-families, are diverse in identity, makeup, and presentation. It is important to note that LGBTQ+ people of color are more likely to have children, and thus many families within the community also belong to communities of color (Mackenzie, 2021). These families can face compounding marginalization in their ability to move through the world without fear and anxiety, simply for existing. For many of these families, there is fear due to threats to their legal and lived equality, due to an increase in anti-LGBTQ+ policies and discrimination. Unlike hetero-families, many LGBTQ+ families live in fear of losing parental rights for non-biological parents or facing discrimination by courts and even hospital systems. This fear can lead to symptoms of anxiety, depression, low mood, and even hopelessness for both parents and children.

Despite these barriers, our families are so strong! Resilience is present within our community and can be accessed through ‘interpersonal, community, and institutional support’ (Goldberg & Allen, 2020). For many LGBTQ+ families, there may be a lack of representation in schools, extracurricular activities, and other community settings. Children may attend schools that still assume all children come from a hetero-family or are the biological child of their parents, leading to feelings of ostracization or isolation. To tap into resilience, there can be great value in connecting with other LGBTQ+ families through organizations such as Family Equality Council, COLAGE, or GLAAD. These organizations promote connectedness for non-heterosexual families to feel supported through a sense of shared experience and resources. They also give parents and children the opportunity to be in a setting where they are the majority, surrounded by others with shared experiences and identities. If you are seeking to connect with other families who resemble yours this summer or year-round, I highly encourage you to explore their websites linked below.

Another piece of this resilience can be found through engagement in individual and couples psychotherapy for LGBTQ+ parents to process their experiences of marginalization as well as present stressors. The rates of anxiety and depressive symptoms are higher among LGBTQ+ individuals and parents than their heterosexual peers, especially for those experiencing compounding discrimination due to race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status (Mackenzie, 2021). Relationally-based psychotherapy that prioritizes inclusivity, gender affirmation, and intersectionality can be highly effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders in the LGBTQ+ community (Domínguez et al., 2015). Finding a therapist who sees you and your family for ALL of who you are is crucial in building a meaningful relationship and growing skills to cope with the barriers we may face.

As we enjoy Pride Month and all of the celebrations it offers, let us remember our families too for all of their resilience, strength, beauty, and love!


Domínguez, D. G., Bobele, M., Coppock, J., & Peña, E. (2015). LGBTQ relationally based positive psychology: An inclusive and systemic framework. Psychological Services, 12(2), 177–185. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0038824

Goldberg, A. E., & Allen, K. R. (2020). LGBTQ-Parent Families and Health. In LGBTQ-Parent Families: Innovations in research and implications for practice. essay, Springer.

Mackenzie, S. (2021). Experiences of gender and sexual minority stress among LGBTQ families: The role of Community Resilience and minority coping. Sexual and Gender Minority Health, 181–206. https://doi.org/10.1108/s1057-629020210000021013

Project, M. A. (2019). (rep.). WHERE WE CALL HOME: LGBT PEOPLE IN RURAL AMERICA. Movement Advancement Project. Retrieved from https://www.lgbtmap.org/file/lgbt-rural-report.pdf.