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‘White, affluent men’ isn’t accurate portrayal of gay dads in North America: UBC expert

Professor suggests gender-neutral parental leave policies, expanding IVF coverage to social infertility
A University of British Columbia expert says the image of “white, affluent men” isn’t an accurate portrayal of gay dads across North America – and it can have real-world implications. (Image: UBC)

A University of British Columbia expert says the image of “white, affluent men” isn’t an accurate portrayal of gay dads across North America – and it can have real-world implications.

“From Neil Patrick Harris on our screens to U.S. transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg on the global stage, the emerging image of gay dads in North America is of white, affluent men,” notes a release from UBC.

Erez Aloni, an associate professor in the Peter A. Allard School of Law, analyzed data about gay dads in the United States and found there “may be a systemic disparity in wealth accumulation among this group.” Aloni said it’s a situation that likely exists for gay Canadian fathers as well.

READ MORE: Health, lives of LGBTQ youth in B.C. improving but not yet equal: report

But why is the image of rich, white gay dads misleading?

Aloni said U.S. statistics show many gay dads are actually people of ethnic and racial minorities.

He added that while studies suggest male same-sex couples may earn more income than other groups, “income does not necessarily translate to wealth.”

Wealth, being the sum of all assets minus liabilities, “provides a more accurate way to measure financial status.”

“When you look at the data through that lens, you see that there is likely a systematic problem with a wealth gap among gay fathers; that is, it may cost more to be a gay dad than to be a heterosexual dad, or even a gay mom,” notes Aloni. “Yet gay dads have this image of affluence in pop culture that we don’t necessarily see with gay moms. And it’s likely inaccurate.

Many factors, Aloni said, could disadvantage families with gay men, including having children which is very expensive. Surrogacy costs between USD$150,000 and $200,000, and adoption through a private agency in the U.S. can cost up to USD$45,000.

The release notes that in Canada, the cost of surrogacy may be slightly lower, and private adoption can cost around $30,000, depending on various factors.

Aloni added the “biggest transfer of wealth” carries through from parents, but some same-sex people are disowned by their families or estranged from them.

“Gay parents face barriers including discrimination in the lending, mortgage, and housing markets, exacerbated for gay parents from ethnic or racial minority backgrounds as they are disproportionately affected by the consistent racial wealth gap resulting from years of discrimination.”

When it comes to changing this, Aloni suggest parental leave policies being gender neutral, expanding IVF coverage to social infertility and “policies that support gay parents would help all marginalized groups as well as challenge entrenched gender stereotypes.”

“As a gay dad, I’ve experienced things like going to sign my daughter up to daycare and the form requiring the name of the mother and the father, or people saying my daughter needs her mommy when she’s crying in public,” explained Aloni.

“So I think it is important for people to recognize the existence of gay dads and understand that their lives are more complex than the commonly perceived image.”

READ MORE: ‘Gaybourhoods’ are expanding, not disappearing: UBC study

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