Parental leave policies designed for straight couples prove unreliable for LGBT families

Buzzfeed News has shared the stories of more than a dozen LGBT+ families, in an effort to document some of the significant hurdles LGBT+ people face when it comes to taking parental leave from their jobs, compared to their heterosexual counterparts.

Large companies operate under the federal law called Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a non-biological parent taking on the responsibility of the child. This law, however, does not protect LGBT+ parents working for smaller companies.

The United States is one of the few countries that does not mandate parental leave, and when it is provided it is often reserved solely for parents who gave birth.

“My wife was on unpaid leave and I had to work to make sure that we had income for the month that she took off,” Trae, a genderqueer therapist from Pennsylvania, told Buzzfeed News. “I struggled immensely with not having leave. Not only was I exhausted from the sleepless nights, I felt like I was missing out on crucial bonding time. My wife gave birth to our son using her eggs, so I have no genetic relationship to him, and I struggled with feeling like people didn’t see me as his “true mom.” I had people at work even tell me I didn’t deserve to be tired because I wasn’t his “real” mom.”

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