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In Australia there are many different kinds of
families. There are one-parent, two -parent,
and grandparent-headed families. There are
step-families and divorced, blended, foster
and adoptive families. There are families with
one child, families with ten, families with no
relatives and families where many different
generations live together and care for the
children . And there are increasing numbers of
children who come from families with same-sex
parents – sometimes called ‘rainbow families’.
Rainbow families also come in different shapes
and sizes. Children may have two mums or dads,
or any combination of parents or co-parents
caring for the children. It is also important to
remember that some sole parents are lesbian, g ay
or bisexual. S ome rainbow families may include
known donors or surrog ates in their extended
families, and some are created through fostering .
Rainbow families are as diverse – in socio-
e conomic background, disability, lang uage,
culture and religion – as all Australian families.
However, fear of discrimination means that
some parents fe el that they cannot always be
open about their family.
What the research says
In the past 30 years, there has been a significant
body of rigorous Australian and internationa l
research comparing outcomes for children raised
in same-sex and opposite-sex parented families.
It has consistently found that children raised in
same-sex parented f amilies do at least as well as
children in opposite-sex parented families in all
significant areas. Specifically, the research tells us:
There is no difference bet ween the t wo groups
of children in intelligence. Both achieve equal
levels of academic and physical competence as
measured by teachers.
‘Gender role behaviour’ is the same – that is,
children tend to play gender-typical games, and
adult offspring have no more of what researchers
ca ll ‘gender identity’ problems.
Children’s emotional development is no
different, either as children or adults. In
particular, adult off spring show no greater
incidence of stress, anxiety or depression.
There is no difference in psychological or
behavioural development, a s mea sured by
parental and teacher reports, using validated
Children of same-sex parents are more
likely to be attuned to diversity, and resilient
to discrimination, than those raised by
For a review of the research see the Australian
Psychological Society’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,
Transgender Families Literature Review, 2007
In 2008 many Victorian and federal laws
were reformed, removing much of the legal
discrimination previously faced by rainb ow
families. In Victoria, children with two mums
can now have both parents recognised as their
legal parents. Federally, same-sex couples
are now treated equally for the purposes
of taxation, superannuation, Centrelink,
Medicare and family law (including legal
parentage issues, access to the Family Courts
and the Child Support Agency).
Some laws related to rainb ow families differ
from State to State. Seeking individual legal
advice is always a good idea .
Welcoming the diversity of our community...
Rainbow Families Council is a volunteer
community organisation based in Victoria,
Australia, that aims to ensure equality for
rainbow families (parents, partners and
prospective parents who identify as being LGBT,
and their children). Current projects include
ongoing advocacy for adoption law reform in
Victoria and the development of a primary
school resource. Rainbow Families Council
invites you to join them by becoming a member
- get informed, get support and get active!
There are lots of resources and information for
rainbow families and prospective parents on the
website at www.rainbowfamiliescouncil.org.au
• “Who’s in Your Family” A3 posters
• Choosing a Rainbow Family friendly childcare
Choosing a childcare centre or kindergarten for
your child can be difficult. For some suggestions
on what to consider, ask and query when
attending an interview or open day, check out
this tip sheet. Other helpful resources that may
be of benefit to childcare centres are also listed.
• Rainbow Families and the Law Resource
A comprehensive guide to the current laws in
Victoria relevant to same-sex parented families,
prospective parents, donors and surrogates.
Rainbow Families Council’s AGM for 2011 will be
held on Sunday September 11. It will take place
at Clyde St Community Centre in Thornbury
from 2pm to 4pm. New members are welcome
on the day. Kids entertainment and light snacks
will be available, the new Rainbow Families
Council website will be launched and Jen Power
from Bouverie Centre, Latrobe University will be
talking about her Work, Love, Play research.
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