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LGBTQ+ single parents

This page looks at issues that can be particularly relevant to LGBTQ+ single parents. So if you’re gay, lesbian, bi, trans, queer, non-binary – or unsure about your gender or sexuality or gender – you might find this page helpful alongside the rest of our information for single parents.  

LGBTQ+ single parenting tips

Parental responsibility

Your rights at work

Useful links for LGBTQ+ parents

LGBTQ+ single parenting tips

We’re not in the business of telling people how to parent. But here are a few things you can do to help your child feel safe, secure and confident about who they are and where they come from. 

Talk openly

It’s important to be open with your children from an early age. This can help them understand that while their family might look different from others, it’s simply another kind of family. The BBC’s Tiny Happy People site has some very useful advice from LGBTQ+ parents on talking to your children about being an LGBTQ+ family.

FFLAG is a charity supporting families with LGBTQ+ members. They have lots of useful booklets and resources, including one on telling your child you’re trans.

Celebrate who you are

Seeing themselves reflected in books and on screen is important for children. So it’s good to watch, read or listen to things that show and celebrate LGBTQ+ families.

Stand up to bullying

One of the most common worries of LGBTQ+ parents is that their kids might be bullied at school. If your child doesn’t feel like your identity is anything unusual or to be ashamed of, they’re likely to be more resilient if bullying does occur.

If your child is being bullied, you can find advice and support from Family Lives and Kidscape. Childline also supports children who are being bullied and want to speak to someone about it.

Joining a group for LGBTQ+ families – like Rainbow Families in Brighton and Hove – might help you all feel supported and less alone.

Our page on your child’s wellbeing has more on how to handle bullying.

Tips from other LGBTQ+ single parents

Talk about your family

We talk about people who have different families a lot – saying you’ve got 2 mummies but we’re not married anymore, we don’t live together.

Mum, 2 children

Be open to help prevent bullying

We talk about families a lot to try to give her the language to talk about having lesbian parents. It’s likely at some point she’ll get bullied for something, but we want to make sure she feels strong enough in her identity and the complexity of her identity to be able to say ‘this is who I am, deal with it’, rather than it being a source of vulnerability.

Mum, 1 daughter

Talk about your donor

We’ve always talked about ‘donor dad’ – that he’s someone who helped us make you.

Mum, 2 children

Parental responsibility

Having parental responsibility for a child means you have the right to make decisions about their upbringing. You can read more about this on our parental responsibility page.

There are different ways to get parental responsibility as a LGBTQ+ parent. The NGA Law Knowledge Centre has more detail on your options.

Automatic parental responsibility

A child can have 2 legal parents who both have parental responsibility. You’ll automatically have parental responsibility if you’re named on the birth certificate or have adopted the child.

Trans men and non-binary people who give birth will be recorded as the child’s mother on their birth certificate. NGA Law has more information.

If your civil partner or wife got pregnant after 6 April 2009 through artificial insemination

In this instance, both you and your partner are the child’s legal parents and have parental responsibility. This is true whether the donor is anonymous or known.

If you’re in a relationship but not married or in a civil partnership, you can get parental responsibility by signing a parental election form at the donor clinic before the child is conceived.

If your child was conceived before 6 April 2009, you wouldn’t automatically have parental responsibility.

If you had a child with a surrogate

Under UK law, your surrogate will be your child’s legal parent, regardless of where in the world the child was born. And if your surrogate is married or in a civil partnership, her spouse will be the child’s second legal parent. This gives your surrogate (and her spouse, if there is one) automatic parental responsibility.

You’ll need to apply for either a parental or adoption order. This will make you your child’s legal parent and end the surrogate’s legal connection to the child. If you’re the child’s biological parent (the egg or sperm donor), you can apply for a parental order. Otherwise, you’ll need to apply for an adoption order. Gov.uk has more about becoming a legal parent following surrogacy.

Becoming a legal parent can take months, so you’ll need to think about your rights and responsibilities before then. NGA Law has more information on surrogacy for single parents.

If you signed an agreement with the birth mother

If you’re married to or in a civil partnership with the birth mother, you can get parental responsibility by signing an agreement with the birth mother. This can be either a parental responsibility arrangement or a parental responsibility order. 

If you’re in a relationship with the birth mother but aren’t married or in a civil partnership, you can get parental responsibility by being named jointly with the mother as who the child lives with under a child arrangements order. You could also think about step-parent adoption.

Your rights at work

LGBTQ+ single parents sometimes worry they’ll be treated differently if they talk to their employer about their needs. You have the same rights as any other parent – and your employer has to consider your requests. And if you feel you can’t speak about your parenting needs at work when your heterosexual or cis-gender colleagues can, this could be a type of discrimination.

It’s illegal for your employer to treat you differently or unfairly based on who you are, under the Equality Act 2010. This is because your sexual orientation, sex or gender reassignment are characteristics that are protected by this act. Citizens Advice has more about these protected characteristics.

You also can’t be discriminated against for having parenting needs or for being a single parent.

Citizens Advice breaks down the different types of discrimination you might experience. You can use their step-by-step guide to check if you’re experiencing discrimination at work and how you can challenge it.

These are the 4 main types of discrimination under the Equality Act.

Indirect discrimination

This is when a policy or rule applies to everyone, but has a worse effect on some people than others.

For example, a company may have a policy to never update employees’ personal details for a training course once it’s been done. While this won’t make much of a difference for most people, it indirectly discriminates against trans employees whose official details or name may change.

And because women tend to have more childcare responsibilities, a policy insisting on working long work hours would indirectly discriminate against them based on their sex.

Direct discrimination

This is when your employer treats you differently and worse than someone else because of who you are.

If 2 employees worked in the same role but one was paid less than the other, and the only difference between them is that the one paid less was LGBTQ+, this would be seen as direct discrimination.

If a man isn’t allowed flexible working when women working in similar positions have been, that could be considered direct sex discrimination.


This is when someone creates an atmosphere that makes you uncomfortable. 

They could do this through physical behaviour, gestures, what they say or write, abuse, or threats.


This is when you’re treated unfairly because you’ve complained about discrimination or helped someone else complain about it. 

Date last updated: 28 June 2023

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