Seeking Parental Leave Stories

Passing state and federal paid parental leave
legislation that is inclusive of LGBT families is a priority for
Family Equality Council. Human Rights Watch (, a nongovernmental human
rights group, is interviewing parents in the U.S., including LGBT
parents, about their experiences with unpaid parental leave and the
impact on their families. The interviews will be used for a report
and for making recommendations on U.S. law and policy. We
encourage families that have experienced challenges in taking
parental leave to share their stories with Human Rights Watch.
After you’ve shared with them, please consider sharing with us
to aid our efforts to pass bills like the Healthy Families Act,
which would require employers to offer full time employees up to
seven days of paid sick leave. Your stories are invaluable in
advancing this critical legislation for LGBT families.

Below is more information on parental leave in
the U.S. and Human Rights Watch’s request to interview

Parental leave with pay when a new child joins
the home is important for working families, yet most U.S. private
sector workers do not provide this benefit. In the United States,
the national Family and Medical Leave Act requires only unpaid
leave.  Only two states (California and New Jersey) currently
offer paid parental leave, and a handful of others offer temporary
disability insurance to birth mothers after childbirth. States
that do offer such paid leave generally fund their programs through
small payroll deductions into a state-wide insurance fund,
minimizing the impact on any particular business.

It is largely up to employers to decide
whether or not to offer this benefit. Some employers, especially
larger ones, do so with good results. Other employers would like
to, but cannot do so without the help of a social insurance fund.
As of 2008, only 9 percent of civilian U.S. workers had paid family
(including parental) leave, and among the lowest-income workers,
only 3 percent had such leave. Some workers can apply other paid
leave when they have children, such as sick or vacation leave, but
such leave is far from universal, especially among low-wage
employees. LGBT parents face additional hurdles in accessing any
parental or family leave, even unpaid leave.

Human Rights Watch is seeking parents to
interview, including LGBT parents, about their experiences with
unpaid parental leave and the impact on their families. Interviews
last about 25-30 minutes. There is no financial compensation.

Please contact Janet Walsh at if you have experienced
parental leave with limited or no pay from an employer and are
willing to be interviewed.