My name is Jocelyn Foye. I am the co-director of The Womxn Project. The Womxn Project is a statewide organization focused on leveraging the power of art, activism, advocacy and education to advance the principles of reproductive justice, which demands that we all have the right to determine when and how we build our relationships, families and futures and that we have the ability to live and raise our children with dignity.
I am thrilled to submit testimony in support of S. 2136, a bill to update parentage laws to take out gendered language around surrogacy and assisted reproductive technology in order to end discrimination against LGBTQ parents and families.
An estimated 3 million LGBT Americans have had a child and as many as 6 million American children and adults have an LGBT parent. The lived experiences of LGBT families vary and each family is built differently. But in spite of this, LGBT families are not so different. Despite harmful and insulting claims from those who do not believe in LGBT equality who want to disparage LGBT parenting, more than 30 years of robust social science research shows that children raised by LGBT parents are just as happy, healthy and well-adjusted as children raised by heterosexual parents. Additionally, nearly every major authority on child health and social services, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Child Welfare League of America, has determined that a parent’s sexual orientation has nothing to do with the ability to be a good, effective parent.
Opponents of LGBT parenting sometimes argue that children need both a mother and a father. Some research has suggested that all else being equal, children fare better with two parents than with only one, but this is a matter of the importance of having a support network. Nowhere does this research indicate that the parents must be of different sexes and there are many studies that show that children of single parents fare well and are not negatively impacted – again so long as families have the support and resources that they need. Poverty and the associated harms have a much higher impact on the wellbeing of children than their family structure along with access to health care and educational opportunities, which have long-term impacts across backgrounds.
So what does this all mean? We can help kids by supporting and protecting their families. We can make sure that people make a living wage and have access to fair workplace policies, so they can meet their family’s needs. We can continue to strive to close gaps in healthcare and ensure access to safe schools and a quality education. There is much we can do if we truly care about the wellbeing of children in our state and that certainly includes ensuring protections for the children of LGBT parents.
The lack of legal recognition for LGBT families harms children. It can impact everything from health insurance to daycare to access to important safety net programs designed to support families during a time of struggle or crisis. This bill will help to make sure that that for families that utilize surrogacy or assisted reproduction we will not leave them without important protections.
We urge your support of S. 2136. Today’s families are built and structured in many different ways. But regardless of how a family is formed or set-up the needs of children are the same: stable, loving homes; economic security; and health and well-being. This bill is an important first step to meeting those goals for the many LGBT families in our state.
Contact: Jocelyn Foye, 401-400-0061, [email protected]