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Bronx leads in gay couple families

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Staff at the Bronx Community Pride Center are still scraping their jaws off the ground after hearing the news – the Bronx has more same-sex couples raising children than any other borough.

“It’s sort of a phenomenon,” Joel Czarlinsky, director of public relations for the center, said, still struggling to understand the latest stats.

Believable or not, according to a recent report from UCLA’s Williams Institute, while the Bronx hosts the second lowest percentage of same-sex couples among the city’s five boroughs, only 11.3%, a shocking 32.3% of those duos are raising kids.

In total, 2,711 of Bronx’ children are living in households headed by same sex couples.

As the highest number in the metro area, residents continue scratching their heads, wondering where the likes of the City’s known gay neighborhoods rank in comparison.

Though Manhattan’s Chelsea and Greenwich Village help contribute to the borough’s 38.3% of gay couples, Czarlinsky said he thinks the expensive City lifestyle is what keeps the percentage of those couples raising kids to a mere 8.5%. Brooklyn ranked second with 31.5%, followed by Queens at 22%. Staten Island was last with 5.7%.

“It’s real economics when you look at the numbers,” he explained about the affordability of the outer boroughs. Approximately 20% of same sex couples in the Bronx own their own home. At the same time, the median income of same-sex couples with children is $31,500.

Also surprising, with nearly half of the Bronx’ gay couples raising children, the numbers are strikingly similar to the 55% of straight married couples with kids in the borough.

Czarlinsky pointed to the area’s large religious community as a probable explanation.

“In that respect it’s very family oriented.” At the same time, he added, “Because the church is so strong here that could work against these families.”

As the only lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender center in borough, the Bronx Community Pride Center, 448 E. 149th St., now more than ever recognizes the importance of their services.

Currently helping more than 6,000 people each year, Czarlinsky said hearing the news about gay families in the Bronx further justified the center’s progressive efforts to provide assistance for the borough’s gay population.

“So, in a way it was a really good moment,” he recalled.

According to the 2000 Census, approximately 3,000 same-sex couples live in the Bronx.

While Czarlinsky said the center continues to expand their services to reach the growing population of gays and their families, their ultimate success largely lies in the hands of local politicians.

“I think when elections come around, they’ll see that there is a population [of same-sex couples raising children] here and they’ll have to pay attention to it,” Czarlinsky explained. “Maybe it’ll open their purse strings a little more.”

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CNG: Community Newspaper Group