Infographic showing the top states where same-sex couples are raising children. The states are MT, WY, SD, KS, OK, AR, MS, AL, LA, TX, AK, SC

Where are the queer parents in the US?

At the Netroots Nation LGBT pre-convening on Wednesday we talked a bit about organizing in red and purple states. As someone who’s only lived on the coasts, I know I’m often guilty of forgetting about the south and middle of the country. And there’s certainly a stereotype that all the queers are on the coasts anyway. But take a look at this map from the Williams Institute (via the Family Equality Council‘s site) that shows the top states in terms of same-sex couples raising children:

Infographic showing the top states where same-sex couples are raising children. The states are MT, WY, SD, KS, OK, AR, MS, AL, LA, TX, AK, SC

I know that’s not the data I was expecting. The fact is, queer folks are parenting in states that are often ignored by LGBT organizing. This isn’t to downplay some of the great work that is happening in those states, but the national focus (and the national money) tends to be in places like California and New York. Clearly, we need to be telling the real story about same-sex parenting in the US. We need to uplift the voices and issues of the families in states that are often ignored, and we need to support their work. I imagine parents face some different issues in South Dakota than in San Francisco, but the best way to know what these parents actually need is for them to tell their stories at the national level.


Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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  • Sam Lindsay-Levine

    I don’t think this map means what you think it means. You write as though this map listed the 12 states with the highest number of same-sex couples writing children, whereas (if you do some digging you can find out) it shows which states, of the same-sex couples in that state, have the highest fraction of them raising children.

    Even though a higher fraction of same-sex couples are raising children in South Dakota than in California, there definitely are not a higher absolute number of such couples in South Dakota.

    • Sam Lindsay-Levine

      I was curious so I used the data from here and here and calculated the top 12 states by absolute number of same-sex couples raising children:

      California (18904)
      Texas (11622)
      New York (9616)
      Florida (7296)
      Pennsylvania (4322)
      Illinois (4130)
      Ohio (4002)
      North Carolina (3999)
      Georgia (3974)
      Massachusetts (3971)
      New Jersey (3762)
      Arizona (3331)

      Maybe that helps explain why the national focus is on CA and NY!

    • Jei

      Sorry, I overshot the ‘reply’ button and ‘reported’ your comment. Oops.

      I just wanted to say thank you. I’m a big fan of analysis that strongly weighs what the data are actually reporting. Comments should always add to the article/discussion and yours certainly did…as did the other posters.

  • Gina Morvay

    Personally, I believe very little the Williams Institute puts out. They aren’t very open about the methodology of their studies. I note their population ‘statistics’ involving the trans population were derived by averaging 3 older studies (which gave very little info about how their stats were arrived at) and didn’t even really define who it was who was being counted. That’s professional methodology?

    I agree with Sam that this map actually shows very little info about “LGBT (really gay and lesbian) parents other than, some very slightly higher percentage of same sex couples who want kids are more likely to live to one area than another. Many of the states with higher percentages are states with people who have a higher percentage of ‘traditional values’ vs. a place like coastal California, where more queer/gay/trans persons move to escape oppression and are less likely to settle into a traditional relationship faster because they have bigger queer/gay communities to chose from. So what?

  • Robert Johnston

    In states where queer people have been able to relatively easily live their adult lives out of the closet, same sex couples don’t end up with a lot of unplanned children or raising a lot of planned children from previous heterosexual relationships. If you took a look only at same-sex couples that are raising children because they planned, while out of the closet, to do so then I’d bet the picture would look very different.

  • fyoumudflaps

    By the way, please don’t use the rhetorical tools of conservatives, i.e. same-sex couples in South Carolina are not more “real” than those in New York.