Abstract: The Experience of Parenting for Lesbian/Gay Latinas/Latinos (Society for Social Work and Research 15th Annual Conference: Emerging Horizons for Social Work Research)

14366 The Experience of Parenting for Lesbian/Gay Latinas/Latinos

Friday, January 14, 2011: 10:30 AM
Florida Ballroom I (Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina)
* noted as presenting author
Michael Chifalo, MSW1, Jennifer Ann Boeckel, MSW1 and Debora M. Ortega, PhD2, (1)Research Affiliate, University of Denver, Denver, CO, (2)Associate Professor, University of Denver, Denver, CO
Purpose: The necessity of identifying good parenting strategies becomes increasingly important as the definition of family grows to include gay and lesbian-led families. At the same time, our country continues to expand in ethnic diversity. As a result, it is important to identify, understand, and recognize specific issues faced by diverse families. Different ethnic cultures potentially have diverse parenting strategies and expectations that rise from within the context of their social location. Gay and lesbian parents may also understand their parenting based on their social positioning in society. Parenting strategies might be informed by cultural strengths that grow even in the face of stress resulting from experiences of multiple forms of oppression. Our research question is aimed at understanding the influence that being a gay/lesbian Latino/a has on the experience of parenting. The tools and strategies used by parents in the face of an oppressive context (a racist heterosexist society) may hold important lessons for those gay/lesbian Latinos/Latinas who are considering or may be parenting already. Understanding these skills could inform parent training curriculum that might not only improve parenting but ideally child welfare outcomes.

Methods: A phenomenological approach to qualitative research was used to gain a better understanding of the lived experience of parenting by gay/lesbian Latino/as. Sixty to ninety minute, semi-structured interviews using an interview schedule with probes were conducted with 7 (4 females and 3 males) parents who were both lesbian/gay and Latino/Latina. In order to identify potential participants to purposively sample, a key informant was used to refer prospective research participants. Snowball sampling was also used to seek referrals from the actual research participants. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and uploaded into qualitative software ATLAS.ti. Using Charmaz's analytic methods, transcripts were initially coded into meaningful units of quotation and then assigned open code gerund phrases. Finally, from those open codes, themes emerged.

Results: Oppression and discrimination was a primary theme that emerged from our data. In addition, participants provided specific examples that presented Latina/Latino cultural values, such as respect and importance of family. Another theme included teaching children to value and accept difference in others. Education was also indicated as an important theme that differed in representation based on the gender of the participant, with men indicating a higher priority. Overall, results illustrated that for our participants there was a relationship between parenting, identity and oppression and discrimination. Their parenting is influenced by their identity, which is affected by experiences of oppression and discrimination.

Implications: Due to the lack of quantitative scholarship in this area, qualitative research provides beginning theory development for those who have historically marginalized identities of both ethnicity and sexual orientation. The current study highlights the importance of examining the interaction of identity and parenting within the context of oppression and discrimination for gay/lesbian Latino/Latina parents. Further qualitative studies can identify themes that can be translated into concepts and constructs that then can be measured through quantitative methodology.