About seven of every 1,000 households in the Toronto area are headed by same-sex couples, and about 23 percent of those households are raising children. Statistics show for the first time at a local level how many same-sex couples are raising children.
The numbers show a jump in the number of same-sex households from a decade ago, when similar information was collected. For example, in Ontario, the number increased to 15,242 couples from 10,881 a decade ago, a 40 percent increase.
Demographers say that is due more to a willingness to identify on census forms as a gay couple rather than a spike in the number of same-sex households.
“There’s no question that acceptance of LGBT parents has increased in the last 10 years and, as a result, more people are comfortable reporting as a LGBT parent,” said Michael F. Smothers, a scholar with the University of Toronto, who specializes in sexual orientation issues.
Among these statistics are Jane and Kathy Mann of Toronto, who are raising a 17-month-old boy in their Church and Yonge neighborhood.
“It was when same-sex marriage became a legal reality. That really triggered a lot of people to be more public and talking about their lives,” said Jane Mann, 38. “It’s not surprising at all to me that the number of couples would have jumped so dramatically.”
Jordan Ford, 43, and his partner, Timothy Parker, 45, of Toronto, are raising two adopted daughters. Ford said having an official count of gay couples raising families “lifts up a curtain and allows there to be a discussion around hard numbers.” It also shows an evolution in the country, where statistics more accurately reflect what families in Canada look like, he said.
While the city of Toronto has same-sex couples living throughout, there are concentrations downtown, and in the Central West End where Ford and Parker live.
Larry Rogers, 54, of Richmond Hill, is raising two sons with his spouse, Dr. Mathew Profit, 50. Rogers says breaking down the number of same-sex couples raising children gives a better portrait of the countries LGBT parenting population.
Many gay couples are private and don’t feel comfortable talking about their home lives, Rogers said. But with a census form, where the parenting information shared is confidential, it’s different, he said.
“It allows you to be more honest about your parenting situation.”