Lesbian, Gay & Transgender Parents

shutterstock_155558849Because DV occurs in families with LGBT parents, these families may also become involved with the CPS system. Recent establishment of marriage equality as the law in the U.S. likely means that more states will routinely recognize both parents in a same-gender marriage as having legal rights to children. CPS agencies, which base many decisions on legal status of parents, will need to improve their ability to assess and develop case plans for LGBT families.

Tactics on the part of the abusive partner such as claiming to the be the victim and deliberately accessing systems for ‘help’ (such as courts and CPS) in advance of the abused partner can make assessment of DV appear more difficult. Assumptions about a lesbian relationship being less dangerous, of violence being ‘mutual’ or similar misconceptions can lead to CPS interventions that fail to protect children and their non-abusive parent, and fail to hold the partner using abuse accountable. DV agencies can and should play a role in helping CPS to understand that while tactics may vary, risk to a partner and to children from exposure to DV are real and must be addressed.


  • Are staff trained to understand unique legal issues of LGBT parents?
  • Is data available within the DV agency or CPS about partner abuse in families with LGBT parents, and how frequently these cases are the subject of DV case consultations?
  • Are risk and protective factors related to impact on children routinely considered in situations involving DV between LGBT parents?
  • Are LGBT survivors offered culturally-appropriate, trauma-informed services parallel to services offered to heterosexual survivors of intimate partner violence?

Strategies for working together:

  • Cross-training with CPS staff on DV in LGBT relationships, dangerousness and risk assessment, case planning, legal considerations, and more
  • Training for culturally specific organizations, attorneys, and others on DV within LGBT families
  • In DV/CPS practice protocols and guidance, address LGBT relationships explicitly

Jointly (with CPS) advocate for consistent, safe and effective response by staff of other systems such as law enforcement and courts