'Kids are just cruel anyway': lesbian and gay parents' talk about homophobic bullying

Psychologists recognize homophobic bullying as a serious problem for young lesbians and gay men; however, when it comes to children in lesbian and gay households the issue is not so clear cut. Some psychologists sympathetic to lesbian and gay parenting regard it as a problem, but most do not. Despite this, the inevitability and severe psychological consequences of homophobic bullying is a prevalent theme in discus- sions of lesbian and gay parenting in contexts ranging from custody cases to television talk shows, and is used to implicate lesbians and gay men as unfit to parent. This is the broader context in which lesbian and gay parents discuss their children’s experiences of bullying. In this study, we provide a discursive psychological analysis of six lesbian and gay parents’ accounts of bullying. We argue that these accounts are discursively and rhetorically designed to deal with a heterosexist social/political context. Lesbian and gay parents face a dilemma of stake and accountability: reports of no bullying risk being heard as implausible given the prevalence of the bullying theme; at the same time, reports of bullying are equally if not more risky, raising the possibility of charges of bad parenting. We explore the detail of the parents’ accounts of bullying to illustrate how they are designed to negotiate this web of accountability, and we argue for the importance for critical social psychology of analysing the talk of socially/ politically marginalized groups.