Tolerance Versus Support: Perceptions of Residential Community Climate Among LGB Parents

Ramona Faith Oswald, Jasmine M. Routon, Jenifer K. McGuire, Elizabeth Grace Holman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To understand which aspects of residential communities are most salient for determining whether sexual minority parents classify their residential community climates as tolerant versus supportive. Background: Metropolitan hubs for lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) parents are well established, but less is known about nonmetropolitan community climates for LGB parents. Residential community climate toward nonmetropolitan LGB persons may be particularly important to LGB parents because of the potential influences on child and family well-being. Method: Open- and closed-ended survey data from a sample of 55 LGB parents were collected along with publically available data regarding their residential communities. Self-reported residential community climate (tolerant vs. supportive) and community involvement, as well as objective county and municipal climate were analyzed. Results: Compared with LGB parents who perceived their communities to be tolerant (n = 38), parents who considered their residential communities to be supportive (n = 17) were more likely to live in counties characterized by legal support and broad social acceptance, were personally more likely to participate in LGB-focused social and political activities, had children with more exposure to other LGB families, and attended church less frequently. Conclusion: Having basic features of equity such as city ordinances and LGB organizations provides a foundation for tolerance in a community; however, individuals in a community must access personal and social supports and activities beyond work and church to feel truly supported. Implications: LGB parents' perceptions of climate reveal specific community features that need to be strengthened to promote family well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-54
Number of pages14
JournalFamily Relations
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • Community climate
  • LGB families
  • LGB parents
  • community involvement
  • religion
  • support
  • tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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