The prevailing professional opinion is that a parent's sexual orientation has nothing to do with his or her ability to be a good parent. The nation's leading child welfare, psychological and children's health organizations also have issued policy or position statements declaring that a parent's sexual orientation is irrelevant to his or her ability to raise a child. Many also have condemned discrimination based on sexual orientation in adoption, custody and other parenting situations and called for equal rights for all parents and children. Further, several of these organizations also have issued statements declaring that a parent's gender identity and/or physical appearance is irrelevant to his or her abilities as a parent.
Read what professional organizations say about LGBTQ parenting:
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (1999)
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry approved the following statement in support of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer parenting in 2009:
"All decisions relating to custody and parental rights should rest on the interest of the child. There is no evidence to suggest or support that parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender are per se superior or inferior from or deficient in parenting skills, child-centered concerns, and parent-child attachments when compared with heterosexual parents. There is no credible evidence that shows that a parent's sexual orientation or gender identity will adversely affect the development of the child.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer individuals historically have faced more rigorous scrutiny than heterosexual people regarding their rights to be or become parents. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry opposes any discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity against individuals in regard to their rights as custodial, foster, or adoptive parents."
American Academy of Family Physicians
The American Academy of Family Physicians adopted the following position statement at its October 2002 meeting:
"RESOLVED, That the AAFP establish policy and be supportive of legislation which promotes a safe and nurturing environment, including psychological and legal security, for all children, including those of adoptive parents, regardless of the parents' sexual orientation."
American Academy of Pediatrics
The American Academy of Pediatrics issued the following statement in support of gay and lesbian parenting and called for equal access to co-parenting and second-parent adoption rights for gay and lesbian parents in February 2002:
"Children deserve to know that their relationships with both of their parents are stable and legally recognized. This applies to all children, whether their parents are of the same or opposite sex. The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes that a considerable body of professional literature provides evidence that children with parents who are homosexual can have the same advantages and the same expectations for health, adjustment, and development as can children whose parents are heterosexual.1-9 When 2 adults participate in parenting a child, they and the child deserve the serenity that comes with legal recognition.
"Children born or adopted into families headed by partners who are of the same sex usually have only 1 biologic or adoptive legal parent. The other partner in a parental role is called the "coparent" or "second parent." Because these families and children need the permanence and security that are provided by having 2 fully sanctioned and legally defined parents, the Academy supports the legal adoption of children by coparents or second parents. Denying legal parent status through adoption to coparents or second parents prevents these children from enjoying the psychologic and legal security that comes from having 2 willing, capable, and loving parents.
"Several states have considered or enacted legislation sanctioning second-parent adoption by partners of the same sex. In addition, legislative initiatives assuring legal status equivalent to marriage for gay and lesbian partners, such as the law approving civil unions in Vermont, can also attend to providing security and permanence for the children of those partnerships.
"Many states have not yet considered legislative actions to ensure the security of children whose parents are gay or lesbian. Rather, adoption has been decided by probate or family courts on a case-by-case basis. Case precedent is limited. It is important that a broad ethical mandate exist nationally that will guide the courts in providing necessary protection for children through coparent adoption.
"Coparent or second-parent adoption protects the child's right to maintain continuing relationships with both parents. The legal sanction provided by coparent adoption accomplishes the following:
"1. Guarantees that the second parent's custody rights and responsibilities will be protected if the first parent were to die or become incapacitated. Moreover, second-parent adoption protects the child's legal right of relationships with both parents. In the absence of coparent adoption, members of the family of the legal parent, should he or she become incapacitated, might successfully challenge the surviving coparent's rights to continue to parent the child, thus causing the child to lose both parents.
"2. Protects the second parent's rights to custody and visitation if the couple separates. Likewise, the child's right to maintain relationships with both parents after separation, viewed as important to a positive outcome in separation or divorce of heterosexual parents, would be protected for families with gay or lesbian parents.
"3. Establishes the requirement for child support from both parents in the event of the parents' separation.
"4. Ensures the child's eligibility for health benefits from both parents.
"5. Provides legal grounds for either parent to provide consent for medical care and to make education, health care, and other important decisions on behalf of the child.
"6. Creates the basis for financial security for children in the event of the death of either parent by ensuring eligibility to all appropriate entitlements, such as Social Security survivors benefits.
"On the basis of the acknowledged desirability that children have and maintain a continuing relationship with 2 loving and supportive parents, the Academy recommends that pediatricians do the following: Be familiar with professional literature regarding gay and lesbian parents and their children; Support the right of every child and family to the financial, psychologic, and legal security that results from having legally recognized parents who are committed to each other and to the welfare of their children; Advocate for initiatives that establish permanency through coparent or second-parent adoption for children of same-sex partners through the judicial system, legislation, and community education."
American Bar Association (1995, 1999 and 2003)
The American Bar Association adopted the following position statement in Aug. 2003:
"RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association supports state and territorial laws and court decisions that permit the establishment of legal parent-child relationships through joint adoptions and second-parent adoptions by unmarried persons who are functioning as a child's parents when such adoptions are in the best interests of the child."
The American Bar Association adopted the following position statement in Feb. 1999:
"RESOLVED, that the American Bar Association supports the enactment of laws and implementation of public policy that provide that sexual orientation shall not be a bar to adoption when the adoption is determined to be in the best interest of the child."
The American Bar Association adopted the following position statement in Aug. 1995:
"BE IT RESOLVED, that the American Bar Association supports the enactment of legislation and implementation of public policy providing that child custody and visitation shall not be denied or restricted on the basis of sexual orientation.
American Medical Association
The American Medical Association adopted the following position statement at its June 2004 meeting:
“Whereas, Having two fully sanctioned and legally defined parents promotes a safe and nurturing environment for children, including psychological and legal security; and
"Whereas, Children born or adopted into families headed by partners who are of the same sex usually have only one biologic or adoptive legal parent; and
"Whereas, The legislative protection afforded to children of parents in homosexual relationships varies from state to state, with some states enacting or considering legislation sanctioning co-parent or second parent adoption by partners of the same sex, several states declining to consider legislation, and at least one state altogether banning adoption by the second parent; and
"Whereas, Co-parent or second parent adoption guarantees that the second parent’s custody rights and responsibilities are protected if the first parent dies or becomes incapacitated; and
"Whereas, Co-parent or second parent adoption ensures the child’s eligibility for health benefits from both parents and establishes the requirement for child support from both parents in the event of the parents’ separation; and
"Whereas, Co-parent or second parent adoption establishes legal grounds to provide consent for medical care and to make health care decisions on behalf of the child and guarantees visitation rights if the child becomes hospitalized; and
"Whereas, The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychiatric Association have each issued statements supporting initiatives which allow same-sex couples to adopt and co-parent children; therefore be it
"RESOLVED, That our American Medical Association support legislative and other efforts to allow the adoption of a child by the same-sex partner, or opposite sex non-married partner, who functions as a second parent or co-parent to that child. (New HOD Policy)”
American Psychiatric Association (1997 and 2002)
The American Psychiatric Association adopted the following position statement at its November 2002 meeting:
The American Psychiatric Association supports initiatives that allow same-sex couples to adopt and co-parent children and supports all the associated legal rights, benefits, and responsibilities which arise from such initiatives.
The American Psychiatric Association adopted the following position statement at its December 1997 meeting:
1. Sexual orientation should not be used as the sole or primary factor in child custody decisions.
2. Gay and lesbian couples and individuals should be allowed to become parents through adoption, fostering and new reproductive technologies, subject to the same type of screening used with heterosexual couples and individuals.
3. Second-parent adoptions which grant full parental rights to a second, unrelated adult (usually an unmarried partner of a legal parent), are often in the best interest of the child(ren) and should not be prohibited solely because both adults are of the same gender.
4. Custody determinations after dissolution of a gay relationship should be done in a manner similar to other custody determinations.
American Psychoanalytic Association
The American Psychoanalytic Association adopted this policy statement in support of gay and lesbian parenting in May 2002:
"The American Psychoanalytic Association supports the position that the salient consideration in decisions about parenting, including conception, child rearing, adoption, visitation and custody is the best interest of the child. Accumulated evidence suggests the best interest of the child requires attachment to committed, nurturing and competent parents. Evaluation of an individual or couple for these parental qualities should be determined without prejudice regarding sexual orientation. Gay and lesbian individuals and couples are capable of meeting the best interest of the child and should be afforded the same rights and should accept the same responsibilities as heterosexual parents. With the adoption of this position statement, we support research studies that further our understanding of the impact of both traditional and gay/lesbian parenting on a child's development."
American Psychological Association
The American Psychological Association Council of Representatives adopted this position statement July 28, 2004:
“WHEREAS APA supports policy and legislation that promote safe, secure and nurturing environments for all children (DeLeon, 1993, 1995; Fox, 1991; Levant, 2000);
“WHEREAS APA has a long-established policy to deplore ‘all public and private discrimination against gay men and lesbians’ and urges ‘the repeal of all discriminatory legislation against lesbians and gay men’ (Conger, 1975);
“WHEREAS the APA adopted the Resolution on Child Custody and Placement in 1976 (Conger, 1977, p. 432);
“WHEREAS Discrimination against lesbian and gay parents deprives their children of benefits, rights and privileges enjoyed by children of heterosexual married couples;
“WHEREAS Some jurisdictions prohibit gay and lesbian individuals and same-sex couples from adopting children, notwithstanding the great need for adoptive parents (Lofton v. Secretary, 2004);
“WHEREAS There is no scientific evidence that parenting effectiveness is related to parental sexual orientation: lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children (Patterson, 2000, 2004; Perrin, 2002; Tasker, 1999);
“WHEREAS Research has shown that the adjustment, development and psychological well-being of children is unrelated to parental sexual orientation and that the children of lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those of heterosexual parents to flourish (Patterson, 2004; Perrin, 2002; Stacey & Biblarz, 2001);
“THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED That the APA opposes any discrimination based on sexual orientation in matters of adoption, child custody and visitation, foster care and reproductive health services;”
“THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED That the APA believes that children reared by a same-sex couple benefit from legal ties to each parent;
“THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED That the APA supports the protection of parent-child relationships through the legalization of joint adoptions and second parent adoptions of children being reared by same-sex couples;
“THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED That APA shall take a leadership role in opposing all discrimination based on sexual orientation in matters of adoption, child custody and visitation, foster care and reproductive health services;
“THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED That APA encourages psychologists to act to eliminate all discrimination based on sexual orientation in matters of adoption, child custody and visitation, foster care, and reproductive health services in their practice, research, education and training (Ethical Principles, 2002, p. 1063);
“THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED That the APA shall provide scientific and educational resources that inform public discussion and public policy development regarding discrimination based on sexual orientation in matters of adoption, child custody and visitation, foster care and reproductive health services and that assist its members, divisions and affiliated state, provincial, and territorial psychological associations.”
The American Psychological Association Council of Representatives adopted the following position statement in September 1976:
"The sex, gender identity or sexual orientation of natural or prospective adoptive or foster parents should not be the sole or primary variable considered in custody or placement cases."
Reference: Conger, J.J. (1977). Proceedings of the American Psychological Association, Incorporated, for the year 1976: Minutes of the Annual Meeting of the Council of Representatives. American Psychologist, 32, 408-438.
Child Welfare League of America
The Child Welfare League of America's Standards of Excellence for Adoption Services states:
"Applicants should be assessed on the basis of their abilities to successfully parent a child needing family membership and not on their race, ethnicity or culture, income, age, marital status, religion, appearance, differing lifestyles, or sexual orientation." Further, applicants for adoption should be accepted "on the basis of an individual assessment of their capacity to understand and meet the needs of a particular available child at the point of adoption and in the future."
National Adoption Center
The Board of Directors of the National Adoption Center approved the following adoptive parent assessment policy statement on September 17, 1998
"We believe that every child has the right to a loving, nurturing and permanent family, and that people from a variety of life experiences offer strengths for these children."
"Therefore, it is the policy of the National Adoption Center that no person should be denied consideration in the adoption process solely based on marital status, sexual orientation, lifestyle, disability, physical appearance, race, gender, age, religion and/or size of family."
National Association of Social Workers
The National Association of Social Workers approved the following policy statement at in August 2002 at the NASW Delegate Assembly.
"Legislation legitimizing second-parent adoptions in same-sex households should be supported. Legislation seeking to restrict foster care and adoption by gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people should be vigorously opposed."
Social Work Speaks: National Association of Social Workers Policy Statements, 2003-2006.
North American Council on Adoptable Children
The North American Council on Adoptable Children issued a policy statement in 1998 (amended April 14, 2002) that states:
"Children should not be denied a permanent family because of the sexual orientation of potential parents. Everyone with the potential to successfully parent a child in foster care or adoption is entitled to fair and equal consideration."
Voice for Adoption
The board of directors of Voice for Adoption passed the following position statement on discrimination in Sept. 2006.
"Voice for Adoption believes that children deserve every opportunity to have a permanent, loving family, and that ruling out prospective parents through discrimination limits children's options for permanency."
"We oppose policies and practices that discriminate against prospective parents, including but not limited to discrimination based on age, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, marital status, family size, disability, medical condition, geographic location, employment status, occupation (including employment in the child welfare system), and educational attainment."
"We support making decisions about approving prospective parents and matching waiting children on a case-by-case basis, based on the strengths of the family and the best interests of each child."