“This is our family. We do not hide who we are”

Stigma and disclosure decisions of lesbian parents in Australian early childhood settings

Kathy Cloughessy*, Manjula Waniganayake, Harry Blatterer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


This article discusses findings from a study that examined how lesbian parents make disclosure decisions in early childhood (EC) settings. Using an online survey, 62 lesbian parents in Australia shared their experiences of EC settings. Follow-up interviews with 13 parents enabled an in-depth exploration of their decisions. Disclosure in EC settings featured 3 themes: appraisal, resistance, and provocation. These parents used disclosure as a litmus test to enable them to assess the suitability and selection of EC settings. Decisions were also motivated by the parents' desire to resist secrecy and shame, often associated with sexuality, by role modelling to promote their children's resilience. Parents hoped their disclosure would provoke educators to be perceptive and proactive in their work with children and families. The fear of stigmatization related to sexuality and the presence of their children shifted the disclosure practises of lesbian parents, making it more likely. Overall, the parents in this study used disclosure in purposeful and intentional ways to reduce the likelihood of stigmatizing interactions in EC settings, by provoking educators to challenge heteronormative understandings of family.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-399
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of GLBT Family Studies
Issue number4
Early online date1 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018



  • lesbian parents
  • early childhood
  • queer theory
  • goffman
  • disclosure
  • stigma

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