Top Challenges LGBTQ Parents Face When Traveling

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While everyday life can be challenging for LGBTQ+ families, planning a trip away from home can be even more trying. LGBTQ+ parents need to consider a wide range of factors that heterosexual parents and parents of heterosexual children don’t. Destination, amenities, social climate, and more can seriously impact travel for LGBTQ+ families. 

Every family chooses to handle things differently, and LGBTQ+ community members have wide-ranging experiences traveling around the world. The GoWhee App and its community of parents hope to educate and give businesses, resorts, and travel destinations insight into the challenges LGBTQ+ parents and their children face while traveling while offering tips to be more inclusive and welcoming of the LGBTQ + community. 

The article was written with the collaboration of Cara, one of the two moms behind the account @caras_atl, an advocate for LGBTQ+ families and travel passionate.

lgbtq parents with daugther blog cover
Cara and her family enjoying the day out!

1. Inclusivity 

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Queer parents, and parents of LGBTQ people are forced to consider whether the destination they have chosen will be inclusive of their family. Unfortunately, there are many places where gender diverse and same-sex parents aren’t accepted, and LGBTQ+ kids could feel uncomfortable or face harassment. 

Some questions LGBTQ+ parents have to ask about inclusivity before choosing a destination include: 

  • How is inclusivity expressed in this area? 
  • Do the businesses or neighborhoods fly rainbow flags? 
  • Are there openly LGBTQ+ spaces? 
  • What are the area’s politics like, and are they open and inclusive in general? 
  • Some places may say they are LGBTQ+ parent family-friendly, but do they have anything to back this up? Signage, programming, appropriate facilities?

>>> The Gowhee App’s filter, LGBTQ+ Friendly, is designed to help families not only find locations that are inclusive but also share information about how inclusive said the place is. Click here to try the Gowhee App for free, today. <<<

Choosing the wrong destination can be super uncomfortable for lesbian and gay parents; imagine having to deal with people openly staring at your family or making comments?

“Remember, extra research is a must if you are an LGBTQ+ family!” Cara mentions. Transgender parents, lesbian parents, gay parents, and parents of LGBTQ+ children must put in the time to make sure the community they are traveling to is safe. LGBTQ+ parents need to be calculated, sometimes planning out every pitstop to make sure they are gender expression and sexual orientation affirming! 

Business with a sign "all are welcome here"
Business with a sign "all are welcome here". Photo by the @Gowheeapp

2. Assumptions

LGBTQ+ people are constantly having to deal with other people’s assumptions, both at home and abroad. For example, Cara explains, “I’m a femme lesbian, but most people just assume I’m straight based on my looks. When they find out I have a partner that is a woman, they can sometimes become hostile because they assumed wrong, and now feel uncomfortable or awkward.” Assumptions can cause confrontations, heightened anger, or unjust retaliation against LGBTQ+ people. 

Again, research is the only way to avoid this. In places where people are less LGBTQ+ friendly or are openly anti-same-sex marriage, LGBTQ+ families will face far more risks, assumptions, and hostility. In places where there are more Queer people, there will be far less risk of wrong assumptions, and less risk of facing backlash simply for existing. 

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3. Bathrooms

Most heterosexual and cis-gender people don’t have to consider this one, but for many people in the LGBTQ+ community, this is huge. Transgender people, nonbinary people, and Queer folks who like to dress in a way that isn’t “typical” for their gender identity can experience serious difficulty finding gender-affirming bathrooms, gender-neutral bathrooms, or public spaces where people are kind and friendly. 

This can be a very tricky, and sometimes dangerous, situation, especially when restrooms are strictly labeled MEN and WOMEN. 

Gender neutral bathroom in a gowhee app location
Gender neutral bathroom in a GoWhee App location

“My partner, for example, is more masculine-presenting to some people, and she has encountered hard stares and even had people tell her she was in the wrong bathroom when trying to use the restroom in a public place. This is another reason you want to be extra dedicated to checking out the areas you are visiting! Make sure you and your family’s safety is the #1 priority at all times!” Cara shares.

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4. Getting “Outed”

Even if the destination you choose is LGBTQ+ friendly, you still have to get there and worry about being safe along the way. Heterosexual couples and cisgender people rarely have to worry about concealing something about themselves when in public, but many LGBTQ+ couples and families are forced to “lie low” until they reach their safe, Queer-affirming destination. 

Being “outed” or perceived as LGBTQ+ can put people at risk since as we mentioned before, there are plenty of people who can become aggressive just because they are small-minded. Some questions LGBTQ+ parents might ask themselves when traveling to avoid being “outed” include:

  • Should we lie about being siblings or friends? 
  • Should we allow our children to dress the way that makes them feel most comfortable and affirmed? 
  • Is it safe to hold hands in this restaurant, or should we wait until we are back in the car?
Lgbtq parents kissing
Cara and her partner during a vacation.

No one should ever have to hide who they are, but unfortunately, many LGBTQ+ find themselves in situations where they feel safer hiding a part of themselves. This can be an incredibly difficult task when kids are added to the mix. Explaining to a child that someone might not be kind because of who you are is an impossibly hard task and one that no parent should have to perform. 

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Finding LGBTQ+ Friendly Destinations

Traveling while LGBTQ+ parenting can be difficult, but some places openly celebrate same-sex couples and LGBTQ+ people. For example, Key West, Provincetown, and San Francisco, just to name a few! These are the places LGBTQ+ families can visit and be open with their gender and sexual expression. “You can hold hands with your person, kiss, and just be yourself with your family! LGBTQ+ friendly destinations are so much more enjoyable to travel to since you never have to worry about being you. ” – Cara.

Hopefully, more destinations will become openly accepting and accessible to LGBTQ+ families, so everyone is able to travel the world safely!

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