While families headed by same-sex couples have achieved greater public visibility in recent years, there are still many challenges for these families in dealing with legal and community contexts that are not supportive of same-sex relationships. The Work, Love, Play study is a large longitudinal study of same-sex parents. It aims to investigate many facets of family life among this sample and examine how they change over time. The study focuses specifically on two key areas missing from the current literature: factors supporting resilience in same-sex parented families; and health and wellbeing outcomes for same-sex couples who undergo separation, including the negotiation of shared parenting arrangements post-separation.
This article is part of a special series focusing on common challenges faced by Australian families. Nowhere is a discussion of dynamics in the changing family more pertinent than with lesbian and gay couples, and of the four functions that a family is meant to carry out for its members, the question of family formation is primary. Although gays and lesbians are not permitted to marry in most locations around the world, they do come together in civil unions, and many post-divorce families consist of a gay or lesbian couple with the children of one or both of them from a previous heterosexual marriage. All of the problems inherent in step families are relevant, but in addition, same-sex couples bear the burdens of secrecy and isolation in an attempt to avoid rejection from their families of origin and stigmatisation by the wider heterosexual society. In terms of creating a sense of family membership, gays and lesbians are also confronted with the lack of legal sanction for their committed relationships, and challenges with parental rights Oswald, Martin summarises the situation for same-sex couple families by commenting that the issues that arise for gays and lesbians in parenting are a function of two things: the rich variety of constellations same-sex families comprise, and the fact that the society they are living in does not value rich variety!
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