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Same-sex parenting

Results of some studies


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Quotation:

  • "...social science research on lesbigay family issues has become a rapid growth industry that incites passionate divisions." Judith Stacey and Timothy Biblarz 1

Summary:

With the exception of studies at a few universities with very close connections with conservative Christian denominations (like the Brigham Young University in Provo, UT), essentially all research studies into same-sex parenting reveal that children of these families develop normally. There is some indication that boys are less sexually adventuresome, and that girls are more sexually daring. There are also anecdotal accounts of children having to endure ridicule, taunting and harassment from other youth because of their parents' sexual orientation.


A sampling of recent studies of same-sex parenting:

  • 1997-APR: Three 3 recent studies from the US, Britain and the Netherlands were presented at the national meeting of the Society for Research on Child Development during 1997-APR .

Charlotte Patterson, a research psychologist at the University of Virginia and author of one of the new studies, said "When you look at kids with standard psychological assessments, you can't tell who has a lesbian parent and who has a heterosexual parent...That's really the main finding from these studies." She agreed that the studies to date are relatively few and open to criticism.

There may be indications that children benefit from having two lesbian parents. Fiona Tasker of Birkbeck College in the Netherlands, "...found that the non-biological lesbian parent was usually more involved with the children than are the fathers of heterosexual couples." There is also anecdotal evidence that children of gay or lesbian parents tend to be less prejudiced.

  • 1999-APR: Researcher Fiona Tasker at Birkbeck College, UK, published an article in Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry. A summary reads: "There are an increasing number of children who are being brought up in lesbian-led families. Research on non-clinical samples of children raised in lesbian-led families formed after parental divorce, together with studies of children raised in families planned by a single lesbian mother or lesbian couple, suggest that growing up in a lesbian-led family does not have negative effects on key developmental outcomes. In many ways family life for children growing up in lesbian-led families is similar to that experienced by children in heterosexual families. In other respects there are important distinctions, such as different types of family forms and the impact of social stigma on the family, that may influence how clinicians approach therapeutic work with children in lesbian mother families." 14
  • 2001-APR: Researchers Judith Stacey and Timothy Biblarz of the University of Southern California studied sexual orientation and parenting. They reported their findings in the American Sociological Review, a peer-reviewed journal. 1 They :
    • Discussed "...limitations in the definitions, samples and analyses of the studies to date."
    • Examined 21 studies which "almost uniformly reports findings of no notable differences between children reared by heterosexual parents and those reared by lesbian and gay parents..."
    • Suggested a "less defensive, more sociologically informed analytic framework" for future studies in this area.

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Comments on same-sex parenting by professional associations:

  • 1976-SEP: American Psychological Association (APA): They issued a policy statement on child custody or placement which said: "The sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation of natural, or prospective adoptive or foster parents should not be the sole or primary variable considered in custody or placement cases." 2
  • 1998: The Child Welfare League of America: Their Standards of Excellence for Adoption Services states:

"Applicants should be assessed on the basis of their abilities to successfully parent a child needing family membership and not on their race, ethnicity or culture, income, age, marital status, religion, appearance, differing lifestyles, or sexual orientation." Further, applicants for adoption should be accepted 'on the basis of an individual assessment of their capacity to understand and meet the needs of a particular available child at the point of adoption and in the future.' " 3

  • 1998-AUG-16: American Psychological Association (APA): They issued a statement titled "Legal Benefits for Same - Sex Couples" which said, in part:

"Whereas the scientific literature has found no significant difference between different-sex couples and same-sex couples that justify discrimination...";

"Whereas scientific research has not found significant psychological or emotional differences between the children raised in different-sex versus same-sex households..."

"Therefore, be it resolved, That APA supports the provision to same-sex couples of the legal benefits that typically accrue as a result of marriage to same-sex couples who desire and seek the legal benefits;..." 4

  • 1998-MAR-14: North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC): The NACAC issued a policy statement which states:

"Everyone with the potential to successfully parent a child in foster care and adoption is entitled to fair and equal consideration regardless of sexual orientation or differing life style or physical appearance." 5

  • 2000-MAY: American Psychiatric Association (APA): In their FactSHEET on gay, lesbian and bisexual issues, they write:

"Numerous studies have shown that the children of gay parents are as likely to be healthy and well adjusted as children raised in heterosexual households. children raised in gay or lesbian household do not show any greater incidence of homosexuality of gender identity issues than other children. Children raised in nontraditional homes with gay/lesbian parents can encounter some special challenges related to the ongoing stigma against homosexuality, but most children surmount these problems." 6

  • 2001-APR: National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) NARTH is a very small association of therapists, social workers, religious leaders, teachers, and anyone else who is interested in supporting NARTH, regardless of whether they have academic qualifications. Unlike all of the other mental-heath association in the U.S., they promote the concept that homosexuality abnormal, unnatural and changeable. It is regarded as a "failure to function according to design." 7  They believe that "Homosexuality distorts the natural bond of friendship that would naturally unite persons of the same sex." Consistent with this stand, they take a dim view of same-sex marriage and parenting, stating that: "[Homosexuality]... threatens the continuity of traditional male-female marriage--a bond which is naturally anchored by the complementarity of the sexes, and has long been considered essential for the protection of children." They also stated: "And despite what many gender researchers claim, research tells us that the absence of a father in the home is not, on balance, good for families." 8

  • 2002-FEB-4: American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): The Dr. Ellen Perrin, led the Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health at the AAP. They studied adoption by same-sex parents. Her prime task was to determine if there is a disadvantage conferred upon a child who is being raised by two men or two women, in comparison to the same child being raised by a man and woman. Perrin said: "We felt that the data were very conclusive that the answer to that question is 'no.' " Thus, the AAP will support legal and legislative efforts to allow adoption by gay and lesbian couples. Perrin said: "We -- meaning basically the Academy of Pediatrics -- felt that the research was conclusive enough when taken in its totality to support this policy." 9 An AAP news release of 2002-FEB-4 states:

"...there is a considerable body of professional literature that suggests children with parents who are homosexual have the same advantages and the same expectations for health, adjustment and development as children whose parents are heterosexual."

"Coparent or second-parent adoption protects a child's right to maintain continuing relationships with both parents in a same-sex relationship. Several states have considered or enacted legislation sanctioning coparent or second parent adoption by partners of the same sex. But other states have not yet considered legislative action, while at least one state bans adoptions altogether by the second parent or coparent in a same sex relationship." 10

They published a technical report in the 2002-FEB issue of Pediatrics, a peer-reviewed journal. The abstract reads:

ABSTRACT. "A growing body of scientific literature demonstrates that children who grow up with 1 or 2 gay and/or lesbian parents fare as well in emotional, cognitive, social, and sexual functioning as do children whose parents are heterosexual. Children's optimal development seems to be influenced more by the nature of the relationships and interactions within the family unit than by the particular structural form it takes." 11

  • 2002-JUN: The American Psychoanalytic Association endorsed same-sex parenting. It is the smallest of the three APA's which also include the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association. According to Focus on the Family, they have "given unqualified endorsement to homosexual adoption and parenting. The group says sexual orientation shouldn't even be considered in legal decisions concerning parenting." The Association's statement says, in part: "Gay and lesbian individuals and couples are capable of meeting the best interest of the child....[They should be] afforded the same rights and....responsibilities as heterosexual parents."

Chairperson Gary Grossman headed the committee which prepared the statement. He commented that it should "help judges, who may have their own biases for whatever reasons, to look at the evidence and listen to the professionals..."Optimally, children do better with two parents, but the gender of the parents is really not so relevant." 12


A Hawaiian court case:

In 1990, three same-sex couples applied for marriage licenses from the State of Hawaii. They were refused. They then challenged the state's decision in court. The Hawaiian Supreme Court found that the state had violated the anti-sexism clauses in its constitution. They assigned to the Circuit Court the task of determining if same-sex marriages were against the best interests of society. 13

On 1996-DEC-3, after hearing submissions from both sides, Judge Kevin Chang ruled:

"There certainly is a benefit to children which comes from being raised by their mother and father in an intact and relatively stress-free home. However, there is a diversity in the structure and configuration of families...In Hawaii, and elsewhere, children are being raised by their natural parents, single parents, step-parents, grandparents, adopted parents, hanai [adoptive] parents, foster parents, gay and lesbian parents, and same-sex couples...There are also families in Hawaii, and elsewhere, which do not have children...The evidence presented by [the] plaintiffs and defendant establishes that the single most important factor in the development of a happy, healthy and well-adjusted child is the nurturing relationship between parent and child."   More details.


References used:

  1. Judith Stacey & Timothy Biblarz, "(How) does the sexual orientation of parents matter?" American Sociological Review, 2001-APR, at: http://www.asanet.org/pubs/stacey.pdf You need software to read these files. It can be obtained free from:
  2. "Child custody or placement," American Psychological Association, at: http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbc/policy/statements.html#2
  3. Kristen Kreisher, "Children's Voice Article, January 2002: Gay Adoption," Child welfare League of America, at: http://www.cwla.org/articles/cv0201gayadopt.htm
  4. "Legal Benefits for Same - Sex Couples," American Psychological Association, at:   http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbc/policy/statements.html#11
  5. "Policy Statements," North American Council on Adoptable Children, at: http://www.nacac.org/about_policystatements.html#gay
  6. "FactSheet: Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Issues," American Psychiatric Association, 2000-MAY, at: http://www.psych.org/public_info/ You need software to read these files. It can be obtained free from:
  7. "NARTH's Purpose," at: http://www.narth.com/menus/
  8. "Gay Parenting Does Affect Children Differently, Study Finds -- Authors Believe Gay Parents Have 'Some Advantages'," NARTH, at: http://www.narth.com/docs/does.html
  9. Stuart Shepard, "Pediatric Group Supports Gay Adoption," Focus on the Family, at: http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/ 

  10. "Press Release: AAP says children of same-sex couples deserve two legally recognized parents," 2002-FEB-4, at: http://www.aap.org/advocacy/archives/febsamesex.htm

  11. "Technical Report: Coparent or Second-Parent Adoption by Same-Sex Parents." Pediatrics, 2002-FEB, Volume 109, #3, Pages 341 to 344. Online at: http://www.aap.org/policy/020008t.html
  12. Stuart Shepard, "Psychoanalytic Group Endorses Homosexual Parenting," Focus on the Family, at:  http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/news/
  13. Judge Kevin Chang's ruling is at http://www.ftm.org/archive/chang-ruling.txt
  14. Fiona Tasker, "Children in Lesbian-led Families : A Review," Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol 4, Issue 2, 1999-APR-1.

Literature references:

  • Alisa Sterkel, "Psychosocial Development of Children of Lesbian Mothers" Gay & Lesbian Parents 75, 81, Frederick W. Bozett, ed., (1987)
  • Julie Schwartz, "Children of Gay and Lesbian Parents", 14 Marriage and Family Review 177 (1989)
  • Various, "Sexual Orientation and the Law", Harvard Law Review, Harvard University Press, 1989
  • Pauline Turner et al, "Parenting in Gay and Lesbian Families", 1 Journal of Gay & Lesbian Psychotherapy 55, 57 (1990)
  • G. Dorsey Green Frederick W. Bozett "Lesbian Mothers and Gay Fathers", in Homosexuality: Research Implications for Public Policy" ed. by Gonsiorek & Weinrich, Sage Publications (1991)
  • Cheryl L. Meyer, "Legal, Psychological, and Medical Considerations in Lesbian Parenting," 2 Law & Sexuality: A Review of Lesbian & Gay Legal Issues 237 (1992)
  • Wendell Ricketts, "Lesbians and Gay Men as Foster Parents", University of Southern Maine, (1992)
  • Louise Silverstein & Carl Auerbach, "Deconstructing the Essential Father,"  American Psychological Association, at:  http://www.dadi.org/apa1.htm


Copyright © 1998 to 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Date of last update: 2008-NOV-19

Author: B.A. Robinson

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