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Multiculturalism and Social Work | San Francisco State University

Good lesbian, bad lesbian...: regulating heterosexuality in fostering and adoption assessments

Author: Hicks, S.
Author Background:
Date 5/2000
Type Journal
Journal Title: Child-and-Family-Social-Work
Volume/Pages 5(2): 157-168
Subject Matter Lesbians-; Foster-parents; Adoptive-parents; Heterosexuality-; Assessment-; Feminist-approach
Abstract This paper examines the assessment of lesbians who apply to foster or adopt using data generated from 30 interviews with local authority social workers. Using feminist and queer theories, the author suggests that lesbian applicants pose a challenge to the discourse of compulsory gender and heterosexuality, which structures fostering and adoption work. It is argued that this discourse relies upon a series of assumptions about the automatic fitness of heterosexual applicants, especially concerning the idea of gender and sexuality role models needed for children's development. Further, this hetero-normative discourse relies on the continuing need to make other the categories lesbian or gay. The article considers how the lesbian is constructed as a threat, as militant, or as automatically safe in assessments, and makes the point that social work is productive of versions of the lesbian subject. The author argues that only certain versions are likely to be approved to foster or adopt, particularly that which is termed the good lesbian. (Journal abstract.)