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Parenting

A third of lesbian mums pelted with vile homophobia at school gates from other parents, eye-opening study finds

Emma Powys Maurice April 20, 2020
lesbian mothers

One in three lesbian mothers has experienced homophobia from other parents (Envato Elements)

One in three lesbian mothers in Britain has experienced homophobia from other parents, a rare study of LGBT+ women has found.

The same number said that their children had been victimised and bullied by other children for their parents’ sexual orientation.

The online survey was commissioned by DIVA magazine in association with Kantar to mark Lesbian Visibility Week. The research involved more than 1,400 LGBT+ women in the UK and is one of the largest studies of its kind.

The abuse and barriers faced by these women and their families were expressed in different ways, but much of it involved educational institutions and fellow parents.

“Professionals denying access to services. Asked to leave youth organisations. Denied access to schooling,” one respondent said.

Another respondent described their child being “attacked at school and bullied on a regular basis for having two mums,” adding that “teachers [are] unable to understand the household.”

In the case of one family, the bullying grew so bad that the children “stopped wanting to go to school,” a parent said. “We felt anger it was not dealt with by the school, and also guilty for feeling like we were the root of the kids’ upset.”

In other cases, the homophobia was more subtle: “Less obvious bullying and more that [children] don’t feel comfortable being open with their friends/school about having two mums, they never invite their friends home etc,” a mother noted.

36 percent of lesbian mothers said their children had been bullied for having two mums (Envato Elements)

“I’m actually surprised [the number] wasn’t higher,” Linda Riley, the publisher of DIVA magazine, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“I’ve got twins and they were bullied at around 10 by a group of other children.”

She recalled other parents not allowing their children to attend a birthday party of her twins, now 13, and a phenomenon she called “gay at the gate”.

“When you’re waiting for the children at the [school] gate, you get passive homophobia. You might not get people shouting at you, but you’ll get everybody whispering and pointing at you.”

Research into lesbian mothers specifically is uncommon. The DIVA study offers a rare look into the difficulties of LGBT+ parenting in the UK, exploring areas such as work, safety, travel and finance.

Overall, the research portrays public spaces as being unsafe for LGBT+ women, especially transgender women.

The data suggests that one in three LGBT+ women have experienced some sort of abuse, be it verbal or physical. 37 percent were specifically abused in bars, pubs or nightclubs, while 26 percent were abused in their own neighbourhoods.

This lack of acceptance is reflected in the number of number of LGBT+ hate crimes reported in England and Wales doubling between 2018 and 2019, and trebling since same-sex marriage was legalised in 2013.

More: DIVA, hate crimes, Homophobia, kantar, lesbian mothers, lesbian visibility week, lgbt families, linda riley, Parenting

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