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Increasing Visibility of Low-Income LGBTQ Hispanic Families

By Eliza Brown

Hispanic families with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) members are part of the broader Latino[1] community. Yet, these families have, for a variety of reasons, historically received less attention.  Fitting with the National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families’ (Center) mission—to help programs and policies better serve low-income Hispanic children and families—we mark Pride month by shedding light on the composition of low-income LGBTQ Hispanic families. We find that, overall, these families look similar to the broader Hispanic community in many ways.

Unfortunately, the data on LGBTQ individuals, couples, and families are much more limited than for other groups. Data gathered often differs according to datasets, and some of the data, such as that on same-sex marriage, has proven to be flawed. For this blog, we have prioritized the most recent research as well as the surveys that research indicates are the most accurate, when available, for the LGBTQ Hispanic population.

There are many LGBTQ Latino families

Four percent (or 1.4 million) of Hispanic adults in the U.S. identify as LGBTQ, according to a 2012 Gallup poll. Among LGBTQ Hispanic adults, an estimated 10 percent are in same-sex couple relationships, and of those couples, 29 percent (or about 32,000 couples) are raising children, as reported by a Williams Institute brief using data from the most recent Census. All in all, LGBTQ Hispanic families are a small but significant population.

Parenthood:  A common experience among LGBTQ Hispanic families

Hispanic same-sex couples are 1.7 times more likely than non-Hispanic white same-sex couples to be raising children, according to a Williams Institute report.

Of Hispanic lesbian households, an estimated 37 percent include children, according to a report by Bowling Green State University researchers. The probability of motherhood among Hispanic lesbians is higher than among white lesbians and lower than among black lesbians. The greater chance of motherhood among Hispanic and black lesbians may be attributed to a cultural emphasis on motherhood, or later ages of coming out, which could increase the chances of having had a child from a previous heterosexual relationship.

Hispanic gay male households are less likely to include children than Hispanic lesbian households, a pattern which holds true for other racial/ethnic groups. Hispanic gay males, however, are more likely to be fathers than the broader gay male population. Whereas only 13 percent of gay male households overall have children, more than one in five (22 percent) of Hispanic gay male households have children.

The higher likelihood of parenthood among same-sex Hispanic lesbians and gay men reflects trends among Hispanic individuals and couples overall. Research is limited on Hispanic transgender parents, who might or might not be included in data on same-sex couples, depending on whether they identify as gay or lesbian in addition to transgender.

LGBTQ Hispanic families are more likely to be living in poverty

LGBTQ Hispanics tend to have lower incomes than LGBTQ people from other racial and ethnic groups. According to the Williams Institute’s tabulations of the 2000 Census—the most recent year for which data on poverty among LGBTQ families are available—Hispanic same-sex couples are about three times more likely to be poor than their non-Hispanic counterparts: nine percent of Hispanic male same-sex couples are poor (living below the federal poverty line), compared with three percent of non-Hispanic male same-sex couples. Nineteen percent of Hispanic female same-sex couples are poor, compared with just under six percent of their non-Hispanic counterparts.

Over a quarter of Hispanic transgender individuals reported a household income of less than $10,000 a year, nearly double the rate of transgender people of all races living at that income level, according to the National Transgender Discrimination 2011 Survey. This is more than five times the rate of the general Hispanic population living at below $10,000 a year as well. More research is needed on the high prevalence of poverty among Hispanic families that include transgender individuals.

Hispanic children whose parents are in same-sex couples are more likely to be poor than children with same-sex parents who are not Hispanic. In fact, about one in three Hispanic children whose mothers are in a same-sex couple are poor—almost double the rate of their non-Hispanic counterparts. This rate is similar to Hispanic children overall, regardless of whether their parents are in same-sex or opposite-sex couples.

LGBTQ Hispanic families: Moving toward understanding

In general, Hispanic same-sex couples are more likely to have children than the broader LGBTQ population. Hispanic same-sex parents and thus, their families, are more likely to live in poverty than their non-Hispanic counterparts. In these ways, LGBTQ Hispanic families resemble the broader Hispanic community.

But as a group, they may also face unique challenges, and likely share specific perspectives and needs. It is important to remember that when we study low-income Hispanic families on a large scale, the resulting research typically includes LGBTQ families, and we should approach research with that in mind. Likewise, when examining access to and use of programs that support LGBTQ people, it is critical to look at their impact on LGBTQ Hispanic families. Improving the visibility of this population from a research perspective will ultimately help improve the programs and policies that strive to improve the lives of children and families.

Stay Connected with the Center

Stay connected with us through our LinkedIn group, on Twitter @NRCHispanic, or send us an email to info@HispanicResearchCenter.org.

[1] The National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families uses the terms ‘Hispanic’ and ‘Latina/o’ interchangeably.

The National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families is supported by grant #90PH0025 from the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The contents are solely the responsibility of the National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, the Administration for Children and Families, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

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