LGBTQ PARENTS AND FILICIDE: Focus on the Hart Family Murders

Document Type

Book Chapter


In 2018, Jen and Sarah Hart, a White lesbian couple, deliberately drove off of a cliff in California with their six Black adopted children on board. All perished in the crash. The parents’ gender, sexuality, and race contributed to the media attention surrounding the case. A detailed analysis of the events leading up to the crash revealed that the women had been abusing their children, yet they portrayed a very different image to the world via Jen’s social media. This case highlights important ways in which the women’s race, gender conformity, and physical attractiveness deflected attention away from the harm they perpetrated on these children. White saviorism in particular operated to render the parents’ authority unquestioned and their children’s voices silenced. Notably, societal anxieties emerged surrounding the ways in which this case-and others like it-might be deployed by anti-LGBTQ forces to challenge LGBTQ rights and call into question LGBTQ parents’ fitness and “adequacy” as parents. Yet silence surrounding the women’s sexuality is unproductive, especially when considering how well-meaning neighbors and social workers may have avoided raising questions about aspects of the Harts’ parenting and/or relationship for fear of being seen as homophobic. This case asks us to interrogate the child welfare system and the ways in which the Harts’ race, physical attractiveness, and gender led to the placement of the six children with the couple, as well as undermining serious attention to and inquiry of multiple episodes of abuse prior to the murder of the six Hart children.

Publication Title

The (Mis)Representation of Queer Lives in True Crime

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true crime, gender studies, queer studies, media studies