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LGBT parent carers

Whether your child or children are adopted, from a previous relationship or you have had them with your lesbian, gay or bisexual partner (through donor insemination perhaps), approaching the subject of sexuality and gender with them can be an awkward and difficult conversation to have.

There are many challenges that parents face when bringing up a disabled child. If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender parents, you may also face challenges surrounding your sexuality or gender orientation. Making decisions on how you tell your child, or preparing your child for potential negative responses from other people can be difficult. 

Your child might be confused or may not understand what you are telling them at first. You might find it helpful to be honest and open with your child about your sexuality or gender choices from an early age. This might encourage your child to ask questions and gain a better understanding early on. However, how and when you tell your child is a very personal decision and you should approach it in whichever way you feel comfortable.

Choose a time and place where you will not be interrupted and you can dedicate your time solely to your child. Speak to them using language they will understand and that is suited to their age.

You may find it useful to refer to a book that explains sexuality and gender to children. This could be a helpful tool when talking to your child. Books can be ordered online or from your local bookshop.

If your child reacts negatively to the news, give them time to digest the information. If appropriate, suggest local support groups where they can talk their feelings through with trained advisers, such as those at Depend or Pace.

Some children may encounter negativity or bullying based on your lifestyle choices, but you shouldn’t assume that this will definitely happen. You may find it helps to explain to your child that some people may not understand their situation and may feel uncomfortable with it. Preparing them in advance for any possible negative responses will help them if these situations arise. For example, if they experience any kind of bullying at school, make sure they know that they can speak to you and make their teacher aware so that they can deal with it quickly.

Adoption and LGBT parents

A child’s biological mother automatically has parental responsibility unless she relinquishes it. The biological father or a sperm donor automatically has parental responsibility if he is named as the father on the birth certificate. Parental responsibility can be relinquished, for example by giving the child up for adoption.

Under the Adoption and Children Act 2002, same sex couples are allowed to adopt a child jointly or separately. If and when applying to adopt, their marital status is considered in the same way that a heterosexual couple’s marital status would be. The Civil Partnerships Act 2004 gives gay and lesbian couples exactly the same rights and legal status as heterosexual married couples.

If you or your child need support or advice about sexuality or gender orientation, you might find the following organisations helpful.

Adoption UK

Adoption UK offers support through all stages of the adoption process. You can call them on 0207 700 1323 or visit the Adoption UK website.

Lesbian and Gay Foster and Adoptive Parents Network

The Lesbian and Gay Foster and Adoptive Parents Network can offer advice and support for lesbians and gay men who are interested or involved in fostering or adoption. You can email them at

Pink Parents UK

Pink Parents UK are an organisation of lesbian, gay and bisexual parents, parents-to-be and their children. They can be contacted on 01380 727 935.

New Family Social

New Family Social is a UK-wide organisation run by and for lesbian and gay adopters and prospective adopters. You can contact them on 0843 2899457 or visit the New Family Social website.


Pace is a family support service offering free counselling, support and advice to all family members whatever their age or sexuality. You can contact them on 0808 1807 223 or visit the Pace Health website.


Depend offers free, confidential and non-judgemental advice, information and support for family members, partners, spouses and friends of transsexual people. Email them at or visit the Depend website.

Carers emergency scheme

Gordon Conochie from the Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Crossroads Care explains the carers emergency scheme, which gives peace of mind to carers. David, who cares for his partner Martin, carries a carers emergency card. It identifies him as a carer, and who he cares for, in case of an emergency. Please note that since this video was published the above organisations have become Carers Trust and Gordon Conochie is no longer working for the organisation.

Media last reviewed: 17/04/2014

Next review due: 17/04/2016


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Page last reviewed: 14/08/2012

Next review due: 14/08/2014

Call Carers Direct on 0300 123 1053

Confidential information and advice for carers.

Lines are open 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday (except bank holidays), 11am to 4pm at weekends. Request a free call back or an interpreted call back in one of more than 170 languages including ربي, বাংলা, 中文, Français, ગુજરાતી, Polski, Português, ਪੰਜਾਬੀ, Soomaali, Español, Türkçe and .اردو.

You can talk to an adviser live online or send a query by email.

Find out more about the Carers Direct helpline.

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