A child who grows up in a home with two loving parents has an ideal arrangement. But does it matter whether the two loving parents are the same sex? The 2000 Census showed that between 1 million and 9 million children had at least one gay parent, according to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. Children lived in about 27 percent of the almost 600,000 gay households, meaning that about 162,000 children lived in a same-sex household.
Most children who live in gay households are the biological children of one of the parents, but it’s getting more common for children in a same-sex household to be planned. Methods gay couples use to have children are donor insemination, surrogacy and adoption. Gay parents face the same parental responsibility issues as straight parents, according to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. Gay parents concern themselves with their child’s schooling and homework, their child’s friends, discipline and with being loving parents. Children of gay parents need to live in society, however, where prejudice against gay people exists, and where children who live in a gay household deal with some of those repercussions, which can cause stress in the home.
The American Psychological Association published a study in 2005 of its findings regarding same-sex households and how children fare. It concluded that no evidence indicates that children in gay households have been disadvantaged in any way by growing up in a gay home. The report, however, stated that the research up until that point was limited. Less research was conducted about gay fathers, and limited research existed on children once they reached adolescence and adulthood.
A June 2012 study published in “Social Science Research” found that the APA’s 2005 study was insufficient because it relied heavily on a small number of “convenience samples” -- people linked together or people the researchers know. University of Texas sociologist and professor Mark Regnerus compared answers from almost 3,000 young adults who were raised in various types of households to determine how they fared. The University of Texas Austin published his work, titled “The New Family Structure Study.” One of the study’s conclusions was that 63 percent of children of lesbian mothers fared worse in many ways. They made less money, were more likely to be on welfare, had lower levels of employment, suffered poorer mental and physical health, were more likely to smoke, were more likely to engage in criminal activity and had a poorer relationship with the current partner than children who lived with the mother and father.
Just as the APA study, which found no negative issues from raising children in a gay home, has been found to be inconclusive, so is the Regnerus study, which found negative issues, according to David Eggebeen, associate professor of human development and sociology at Pennsylvania State University. Neither study provided conclusive results, said Eggebeen. The problem with the Regnerus study, according to Cynthia Osborne from the University of Texas, is that it’s difficult to determine whether being raised by lesbian mothers was the reason for the negative outcomes of some adults or whether the negative results might have been from being a product of a divorce, for example.
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy: Same-sex Parents and Their Children
- American Psychological Association: Lesbian & Gay Parenting
- EurekAlert: Studies Challenge Established Views Development of Children Raised by Gay or Lesbian Parents
- University of Texas Austin: The New Family Structure Study
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