Gay or lesbian parents a hook?

Common app talks about how this led to adversity with peers, particularly on the wrestling team where physical bullying occurred. It was also the focus of any identity prompts. Applying to T20’s as an econ major.

Being gay or lesbian yourself is not a hook, so an LGBTQ parent definitely does not qualify.

If being picked on as a kid were a hook, 99.99% of applicants would be hooked.

1 Like

I don’t really see how it doesn’t add value to the application. It is just like being part of any other minority group, and facing practically the same obstacles. I don’t know why you are so dismissive, do you know people who have same-sex parents?

Can you use it as a basis of an essay on overcoming obstacles? Yes. Is it better than any other topic? Maybe. Maybe not.

But that was not your question. Your question was is it a hook, and it is not.

1 Like

ok I understand, I am just wondering how you came to that conclusion given on what we just agreed on.

You are the one applying to college, not your parents. The only time college admissions potentially cares about your parents is if they attended that college and gave lots and lots of money over the years. And to a much lesser extent, if they never went to college at all.

You are misusing the term “hook.” A hook is something a colleges needs, or at least strongly desires. They need recruited athletes. They want diversity of URMs. They don’t need diversity of LGBTQ students since almost every college has an overrepresentation compared to the surrounding area. And they certainly don’t need LGBTQ parents.

For a gay applicant, it is not being gay that’s interesting to a college; it’s what s/he has done as a result of, or in spite of, being gay.

1 Like

“Adding value to the application” is very different than a hook.

“For a gay applicant, it is not being gay that’s interesting to a college; it’s what s/he has done as a result of, or in spite of, being gay.”

Using this logic, then first generation immigrants should not be hooks, legacy applicants should not be hooks and a whole array of “hooks”. College’s do care about parents, denying this would be ignorant.

I certainly have been treated differently based on my family structure. How is this any different to the challenges others had to face.

Being gay and having gay parents is entirely different. No one is going to make fun of gay people at their face. Plenty of people harass me, its just like any other trait like being short or stupid. I don’t see how the logic of colleges can only care about some minority parents and not others makes any sense.

Questions i’ve asked my counselors and others all seem to be in agreement with me. There is a unique perspective gained from someone in my situation, and isn’t that the draw of a hook?

I’m not trying to play the victim here, but if affirmative action benefits someone else for something they cannot control why must it discriminate against someone like me who has and does constantly experience REAL social exclusion based on something I have absolutely no control over?

1 Like

You may want to ask your parents about the validity of that statement.

@TraveledBlinder. You have just summarized why college admissions are absurd. There are plenty of educational opportunities for you in this country that don’t hinge (hook) on the uniqueness of your personal existence. May I gently suggest that you look into those as well? Good luck!

I already covered the legacy exception. And being a first generation immigrant is not a hook.

Wake up. Even in 2020, gay people are made fun of, and worse, all the time.

Reread how I (and all colleges) define hook. A unique perspective is not a hook. A compelling backstory is not a hook. Having gay parents is not a hook.

They can make for interesting essays, which may help in admissions. But other applicants will also have overcome adversity by being poor or an immigrant or homeless or having divorced parents or having a parent killed in war or…

Stop for a second, breathe, and read the comments carefully.

NOBODY is saying that your upbringing is a bad essay topic.
NOBODY is saying that your upbringing doesn’t give some insight into your personal situation etc.

What people ARE saying is that it is not a hook. A hook (which is the word you used in your post) is a person who meets an institutional need of a particular college. It is a reason why a college will choose one applicant over similarly or even at times better academically qualified applicants. Some examples of hooks include children of huge donors (to hopefully get more donations), recruited athletes, or a person who might bring positive fame to the school (ex. Malala). Being a child of gay parents does not fulfill an institutional need of a college. If you had a hook (again the word YOU used) you would know it.

What you DO have is perhaps an less traditional upbringing that had some negative repercussions. Sure, let admissions officers know if that is the story you want to tell. But understand that many applicants have many different interesting stories to tell and problems they have overcome (ex. chronic illnesses, poverty/homelessness, parents dying/divorcing, learning disabilities, etc.). All of these things are part of each applicant’s story but none of them are hooks. Top colleges simply do not have enough space to accept every applicant who has a compelling backstory.

The posters are also correct in pointing out that it is what you are doing that matters (ex. how you are handling the situation, is it leading to personal growth/taking action etc.) not the fact that your parents are gay. FWIW as noted in other posts the LGBTQ+ world is common and acceptable on virtually all college campuses and is likely to be the focus of a number of applicant’s essays (not necessarily having gay parents but also essays on “coming out” or other “problems being gay in HS” etc.).

If you use this as the topic for your essay I’d advise you to avoid any “woe is me” tone (which I would say to anyone regardless of the topic), focus on how the problems you faced made you more mature, more accepting (or whatever the case is), and be sure to show some appreciation for the positives that your parents have provided to your life.

FWIW I do know children of gay couples. While I imagine there were bumps along the road that I never head about these children/young adults have had loving parents and stable homes and seem to be thriving.

You can argue with experienced posters here about the extent having gay parents will help you (or the extent you think it should) but in the end all you can do is apply and see how things turn out. None of us has read your essay, your LORs, seen your academic stats or ECs etc. Apply to T20’s and give it your all – but (as I tell everyone) also be sure to have some match and safety schools that appear affordable and that you would be excited to attend.

And maybe take a second to give your parents a hug.


@TraveledBlinder You asked people whether having gay parents would provide a hook, i.e., whether it would, in some way, significantly increase the chances that you would be selected by colleges over a similar applicant with straight parents.

The answer you received is that it would not.

This has nothing to do with whether it was difficult, whether it is considered a minority family situation, or any other judgment of the family structure.

You can add it to your essay, but again, as people said, just this fact will not increase your chances of being considered. Not because there is discrimination against same gender couples, but because again, having same gender parents is not something that colleges are specifically looking for in their students. Whether or not colleges should do so is irrelevant.

I will also state that the “How I Overcame Hardships And Persevered” is not a strong topic at all. It is one of the most overused topics, and is unlikely to make an essay stand out. College admissions isn’t a competition between applicants for who had the most difficult life. Having a more difficult time as a child than other applicants will not increase your chances of acceptance, even if you did persevere, and even if it did Make You A Stronger Person.

To paraphrase - you want their interest, not their sympathy.

You are looking to showcase your best characteristics, not the hardships you suffered. You do not want to present having same gender parents as a hardship you had to overcome. If you want to use it, use it as something which adds an interesting dimension to your character.

In short, if you want to have your parents in your essay, focus on the positive aspects of your family structure, on how it added something to your life, on the beneficial impacts it had on you.

I think that how you dealt with that adversity MIGHT be used in an essay. Certainly, growing up as the only Jew in a bible belt town, and how one learned to survive in an environment where most of the people saw you as “other”, and a target for proselytizing, could be an interesting essay topic, depending upon how it was used. It’s the same thing for growing up as the child of a same-sex couple household. In Manhattan or San Francisco? Not that unusual. In rural Utah? Oh yeah. It’s very possible to write an excellent essay that contains the topic of growing up as “other”, even if one is not an URM. I think it’s all in how you approach it. And growing up as the child of a same-sex couple in an area of the country where this is considered an abomination, definitely makes you “other”, even if you are straight.

It’s all going to matter as to how you approach and use the topic in your essay.

A hook is a category of student that fulfills an institutional need. These include: legacy, recruited athletes, under-represented minorities, high-donation potential, and first-generation students. No college that I know of has identified the category of “children of gay parents” as an institutional need.

To answer the spirit of your question:

Having gay parents is definitely something that gives you texture and will help you stand out. Not many students are raised that way. You have a compelling story to tell that very few students will have. And having a student in our classrooms with your background is rare and viewed as valuable.

The recruited athlete makes our campus more dynamic by making an athletic team better, increasing school spirit, potentially bringing money to the school. A student from Israel makes a foreign policy discussion more interesting. Your background coming from a nontraditional home will add a unique viewpoint to, for example, a discussion in a sociology class.

Bottom-line: Don’t get hung up on this insider-baseball talk about hooks. (I’ve never used that word or heard anyone at Stanford admissions use it.) Your unusual background is something that will help your application. Be sure to write about it in a compelling way and connect it to a specific idea in a field you want to study.


Could I ask why your answer/perspective on this seems to differ so much to the other responses?

I’m not sure it’s as different as you think. Most of the posters are correctly advising you to be careful with how you write the story–as am I.

It’s great texture that will stand out. The key will be you using that experience as a launchpad to say something smart and interesting–ideally about a specific academic idea you want to study. You don’t want to lean on it too heavy.

That’s where all the essay alchemy happens: finding creative ways to combine personal stories with intellectual ideas.

My main point is don’t worry about things outside your control like “hooks”–keep your eye on the ball: how can you do the most with this unique background in your writing.


Look, you don’t get into a T20 because you had challenging times or you think you (or your situation) is “other.” Nor because you found the silver lining.

You get in when you match the whole of what they value and want: the person you have become. And that’s more complex than it sounds. You need to have the sort of vision they want, be activated in the right ways, have something of substance (to them) to show for your efforts, and have what I’ll just call a mature level of thinking. It’s on the applicant to understand what it is that different colleges do value. Otherwise, he or she can be just another one of 30-40k kids throwing their hats in the ring, somewhat blindly.

Having a different family situation is no “it.” (After all, you’re leaving that, to attend college.) What you did with your own life might be. How you activated and then impacted others. No, enduring is not enough. Doing typical high school things is often not enough. And it’s going to be what you “Show, not just tell.” Your record, your approach, and more.

You have 30 days to RD deadlines. Use it wisely.

1 Like

Being the child of gay parents isn’t a hook, and I don’t believe it’s a tip either. OP is going to have to fit what the colleges are looking for and be able to show that fit in their essays. If there’s not a match or it’s not effectively shown then their background won’t matter.