Understanding Families With Gay and Lesbian Parents
If you don't already have it, download the free PDF reader from
Grade Level K through 6
Subject Areas Language Arts,
In this chapter we meet Josh, who lives with his sister and two
moms; Breauna, who lives with her two dads; and Dominique, Alma
and Taquisha, who live with their two moms. Their stories are
framed by other families where the parents are Gay or Lesbian.
Currently in the United States The American Bar Association
estimates that between 6 and 10 million children live with Lesbian,
Gay, or Bisexual parents. Until 2000, children from two-parent
Lesbian or Gay households were considered by the census as being
raised by single parents. Today about 20 percent of all Gay and
Lesbian households have a child in the home.
Gay and Lesbian families are an integral part of American society,
with Gay couples residing in 99.3 percent of all counties across
America. According to 2000 U.S. Census Bureau figures
same-sex partners head households in nearly
every county in the country.
Growing numbers of children have parents who are Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual
or Transgender. Children with Gay parents may be in mixed-race families,
single-parent families or adoptive families. They may be the biological
children of one parent. Gays or Lesbians may have decided to become
parents while in committed Gay relationships, or they may have had
their children earlier in life while involved in a relationship
with a person of the opposite sex.
Gay and Lesbian couple-led homes totaled nearly 600,000
California, with 10.9 percent of U.S. households,
had almost 16 percent of same-sex homes.
New York, with 6.7 percent of U.S. households, had 8 percent
of same-sex homes.
Texas, with 7 percent of U.S. households, had 7.2
percent of same-sex homes.
Students should be able to
describe six different family structures.
identify four different ways families can be mixed.
define all vocabulary words and use them in original
tell how their own families are similar to and different
from the families in the video.
list specific ways they can support classmates whose
families are different from their own.
Videotape That's a Family! Segment highlighting families
with Gay and Lesbian parents.
The Sneetches by Dr. Suess (optional)
Go over the general ideas and vocabulary presented in the video.
You may wish to make a poster of the below points and display
it during the unit.
General Ideas Presented in the Video
There are many ways to be a family.
Key Vocabulary and Other Related Terms
Families come in all sizes and configurations.
Families of all kinds have things in common.
All families are "normal" families, even though there
may be more of some kinds than others.
Conflict is part of being a family.
Families are not happy all the time.
Teasing can lead to hurt feelings and low self-esteem.
Individuals can interrupt teasing and be allies for
Families change, just like people change.
Different kinds of families can support each other
and be stronger than any one type of family on its own.
Gay: Describes a man who loves a man in a romantic way
and a woman who loves a woman in a romantic way.
Lesbian: A woman who loves a woman in a romantic way.
Heterosexual: A person who loves someone of the opposite
sex in a romantic way.
Homosexual: A person who loves someone of the same sex
in a romantic way.
Straight: Another word for heterosexual.
Bisexual: A person who can love either a man or a woman
in a romantic way.
1. Review the model of using windows and mirrors in the Before
You Begin section of this Web site. Ask students to think about
the questions below while watching the video segment.
Windows: In what ways are these families
different from your family?
2. Have students write their (anonymous) questions about the video
and about families on cards and put them in a question box. After
you watch the tape you can lead a discussion based on students'
questions. This activity can help you become familiar with students'
questions and give you a chance to clarify any misconceptions they
might have. It helps to have a question box available throughout
Mirrors: In what ways are these families similar to
This activity is for students to process the information presented
in the film segment about Gay and Lesbian families.
1. Use the following questions for discussion or as suggestions
for journal writing (these can be done individually, in pairs,
or in small groups).
What did you learn from this video about
families with Gay parents? What else would you like to know?
Was there anything in this part of the video that
Who is in Josh's family? Who is in Breauna's family?
Who is in Taquisha's family?
List the activities each family likes to do together
(doing homework, playing board games, gardening, bowling, celebrating
birthdays and so on). Which of these activities do you do with
Josh describes one mom as playful and one as more
serious. How would you compare and contrast the different members
of your family?
Josh says his two mothers are "the main things
in each other's hearts, except for me and Mara." What do you
think he meant by that?
What is challenging about having two dads or two
Breauna says her dads are the best dads in the
whole world. Give some examples of what makes them a strong
and loving family.
Josh says he wishes people understood that it's
OK to be different. What do you think he meant by that? What
other ways are people different?
Sometimes Josh says he hears people use bad words
to describe gay and lesbian people. Do you ever hear people
use words like "faggot" (see definition below) or phrases like
"that's Gay" to put someone or something down? What happened?
How did you feel about it? What could you do the next time someone
uses these words around you?
Do you think when kids use anti-Gay names they
really think the person they are teasing is Gay? What do you
think they are really trying to say? Why do you think someone
would call another kid an anti-gay name?
Breauna says she doesn't think if you have gay
parents that you will grow up to be Gay. "You could or you could
not." Why did she say that? What do you think?
Have you ever heard someone say something mean
or insensitive to someone who has a Gay or Lesbian family member?
What did you do? What could you do if you heard that again?
If you are in a Gay- or Lesbian-headed family,
what would you like the world to know about your experience?
Alma says sometimes people with Gay parents are
afraid to tell other kids at school. How could you support a
classmate who has a Gay or Lesbian family member?
2. Use these quotes from this chapter to prompt class discussion
and journal writing or to make bulletin boards or posters:
"I like having a mom that's more playful and a mom that's
"My moms are the main things in each other's hearts."
"The only hard thing about having two moms is that kids use
mean words for Gays and Lesbians."
"I wish they knew that it is OK to be different."
"My moms are Lesbians... That means they only like men for friends..."
"You're not Gay when you grow up just because you have Gay parents."
"I wish more people understood."
3. With older children, talk about the word "faggot" and the
phrase "You're so Gay!" which are often used by children as put-downs.
Research shows children as young as first and second grades begin
to use the word "faggot" as an insult without understanding what
it means. Ask, "Do you know the history of this word?"
Explain what a faggot is (a bundle of sticks or twigs, bound
together and used as fuel). In the Middle Ages, many people were
burned at the stake because they were accused of being witches.
Most of the time, these women were actually midwives or healers,
or widows with property that other villagers coveted. Gay men
were also discriminated against and persecuted. Some estimate
that 9 million women lost their lives during this time. When witches
were burned, men accused of being Gay were dipped in oil, set
afire, and used as the faggot to light the burning pyre. This
word has a history of torture and discrimination and death. It
is not an acceptable word. It hurts people that you don't know
you are hurting.
1. Have each child make a booklet about this segment of That's
a Family! each page describing the different kids from the
video and featuring a picture of that family. This could be a
ribbon book- students glue 3- by 5-inch cards onto a ribbon so
they fold into a book or hang with the story sequenced from top
to bottom. Have them finish the following sentences (or similar
ones) for each family in the video:
Josh's family likes to...
Josh's parents are Lesbians. That means...
The people in Josh's family are...
Josh's family is like mine because...
Josh's family is different from mine because...
2. Think about this segment of That's a Family! and complete
some of the following phrases:
|| I can't really understand...
|| I began to think of...
|| I noticed...
|| If I had been...
|| I was reminded of...
|| I can't believe...
3. Have the students make connections between the families in
the video and people they know. Do they know anyone who is Gay
or Lesbian or has Gay people in their family?
4. Read The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss to the class. Help
them talk about how we form groups in which people belong or don't
belong. Ask: "Have you ever been left out of a group? How do you
feel when you are left out? How do you feel when you are part
of a group?"
Home Activities Students Can Do With
1. Discuss with your family ways you can be supportive of people
who are different from you.
2. Work with your family to complete the family tree assignment
given by your teacher.
3. Read one or more of the books from the related list or the
further resources list with a family member.
4. For each of the segments of the video, fill out the following
chart (find an adult in your family to help you fill in this chart):
Ways our family is the same:     Ways our family is
back to top