Heteronormativity and LGBTQ Parenting

By Kate Henley Averett

Averett_blog_photo_10.8.15_jl.jpgResearch has shown that a preference for gender-normative behavior in children is linked to a belief that children are, by default, heterosexual. But do LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) parents share this belief? In this article, I address this question by looking at how, why, and in what contexts LGBTQ parents resist the heteronormative imperative that their children behave in gender-normative ways. Through in-depth interviews with 18 LGBTQ couples with young children, I find that these parents draw upon their own childhood experiences of having their gender and sexual identities (mis)recognized  as they seek to provide their children some degree of freedom from strict, binary, gendered expectations. These parents use a strategy that I call “the gender buffet,” in which they provide their children with a variety of gendered options for clothing, toys, and activities so that their children can exercise some agency in how they express their gendered sense of self.

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