Nanette Gartrell, M.D.
An unsung hero on the vanguard of LGBT rights, Dr. Nanette Gartrell is the principal researcher of the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS). She has been following and reporting on planned lesbian families, in which the children were conceived through donor insemination, for 26 years--the largest, longest-running investigation of its kind. Her empirical findings, proving that children raised by lesbian moms are just as well-adjusted as those raised by heterosexual parents, influence decision-makers in healthcare, social services, adoptions, marriage, and many other areas. "I went to medical school in 1972 with a goal of providing non-homophobic healthcare for LGBT people. My entire career as a physician has been dedicated to eradicating negative stereotypes of LGBT people," says Dr. Gartrell, who was the first out lesbian physician on the Harvard Medical School faculty. Discrimination against lesbian mothers in custody disputes, common in the 1980s, spurred her revolutionary study, and Dr. Gartrell is gratified by her discoveries. "Since so much of the opposition to equality in marriage, adoption, and foster care has been based on homophobic assumptions that children raised by same-sex parents would be psychologically damaged, it has been very rewarding to see my scientific investigations used by legislators, litigators, physicians, social workers, and educators to counter negative stereotypes about LGBT families in our ongoing struggle for civil rights."