Exclamation pointThe Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) turned 25 this week, but LGBTQ parents are less likely than others to have access to paid leave, a recent article reminds us.

“Parents with access to paid leave are likely to be biological parents and part of an opposite-sex marriage,” writes Sabia Prescott at Slate in”Queer Families Still Struggle to Access Leave.” Here’s a key excerpt from this must-read piece:

Pew Research Center data point to an increase in recent years in the number of blended and non-nuclear families, two models especially common among LGBTQ families living at or below the poverty line. Low-income LGBTQ parents are not only a growing population, they’re also some of the most in need of parental and family leave—and still the least served by current policies…..

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people are more likely to be low-wage earners than non-LGBTQ people. As a whole, they’re more likely to be living at or below the poverty line than non-LGBTQ people (transgender people are are twice as likely, and trans women of color four times as likely). Yet LGBTQ parents are also four times more likely to adopt and six times more likely to foster children than their straight counterparts. LGBTQ parents are more likely to be hourly employees and less likely to have supportive biological family than different-sex parents—all factors that translate to narrow access to family leave.


Go read the whole thing for more insight into the issue. It’s a timely piece given that family leave (or lack thereof) is a big concern for many, not just LGBTQ parents. Some (but not yet enough) companies are trying to step up their leave benefits, as the New York Times recently outlined, but huge inequalities remain. Is it right that a parent who works an hourly job should get less time to bond with their newborn or newly adopted child than one who is salaried? (Yes, it makes sense that some benefits differ for hourly and salaried employees; I’d argue strongly that family leave isn’t one of them.) And as a report from the Center for American Progress last October detailed, both LGBTQ families and others need paid leave options that cover chosen family.

All the more reason for us to stay informed about the many state bills impacting family leave (thanks, Family Equality!) as well as the proposals being floated at the federal level. Follow organizations like Moms RisingA Better Balance, and Zero to Three (which has a helpful, though not LGBTQ-focused, Paid Family Leave Advocacy Toolkit). And if you have a personal story to tell about family leave (good or bad), please consider sharing it with Moms Rising for possible use in their advocacy work.