Yet another study finds gays make great parents

A new Australian study has found children in same-sex families are developing normally and are in good physical health.

The study, called the Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families (ACHESS), is a fairly large one, gathering data from over 300 same-sex families and 500 children from those families.

The children ranged in age from newborns up to age 17. In general, the children from same-sex families scored higher in terms of general health than children of opposite-sex parents.

They also had fewer negative behavioral issues than children from opposite-sex parents. The authors write, “Australian children with same-sex attracted parents score higher than population samples on a number of parent-reported measures of child health.”

The ACHESS data joins information from other studies that basically reinforce each other. Children raised in same-sex (or “non-traditional”) families are certainly not being harmed by not having opposite-sex parents. They are being nurtured and developing normally.

(Good guy) protesters outside the Supreme Court, and across from the US Congress, for the oral arguments on the gay rights cases involving DOMA and Proposition 8 in March, 2013. © John Aravosis 2013

A gay couple and their kids outside the Supreme Court, and across from the US Congress, for the oral arguments on DOMA and Proposition 8 in March of 2013. © John Aravosis 2013

Information from a few of the studies that have looked at same-sex couple parenting and the children involved follow. Unequivocally, the data show that children raised by same-sex parents are doing well when compared to children raised by opposite-sex parents.

Here are some points made by studies concerning same-sex parenting and the children’s well-being.

The American Academy of Pediatrics:

Results confirm previous studies in this current body of literature, suggesting that children raised by same-sex parents fare equally well to children raised by heterosexual parents.

Demographics 2013:

I use U.S. census data to perform the first large-sample, nationally representative tests of outcomes for children raised by same-sex couples. The results show that children of same-sex couples are as likely to make normal progress through school as the children of most other family structures. Heterosexual married couples are the family type whose children have the lowest rates of grade retention, but the advantage of heterosexual married couples is mostly due to their higher socioeconomic status. Children of all family types (including children of same-sex couples) are far more likely to make normal progress through school than are children living in group quarters (such as orphanages and shelters).

And another study from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

The 17-year-old daughters and sons of lesbian mothers were rated significantly higher in social, school/academic, and total competence and significantly lower in social problems, rule-breaking, aggressive, and externalizing problem behavior than their age-matched counterparts… Within the lesbian family sample, no Child Behavior Checklist differences were found among adolescent offspring who were conceived by known, as-yet-unknown, and permanently unknown donors or between offspring whose mothers were still together and offspring whose mothers had separated… Adolescents who have been reared in lesbian-mother families since birth demonstrate healthy psychological adjustment.

The Journal of GLBT Family Studies:

Extensive data available from more than 30 years of research reveal that children raised by gay and lesbian parents have demonstrated resilience with regard to social, psychological, and sexual health despite economic and legal disparities and social stigma. Many studies have demonstrated that children’s well-being is affected much more by their relationships with their parents, their parents’ sense of competence and security, and the presence of social and economic support for the family than by the gender or the sexual orientation of their parents. Lack of opportunity for same-gender couples to marry adds to families’ stress, which affects the health and welfare of all household members.

These studies, among others, state clearly that children do not need to be raised by an opposite-sex parent couple to develop normally, to grow and mature, be happy and healthy. And they don’t need a mother and father to have a good family structure.

This flies in the faces of statements of what the Mormon, Baptist and Catholic churches profess. It contradicts the dogma from the National Organization for Marriage, that preaches that same line about the need for a female-male dyad as the only stratum in which to be able to raise well-adjusted children. That is just not true.

These organizations, and others, maintain that the “traditional family” is necessary for children’s well-being. Yet multiple studies have shown that isn’t the case. Often the only “evidence” that they have to support their claim is the debunked Regnerus study. And that has been thoroughly discredited by other researchers and professional organizations. Unfortunately, they continue to cling to Regnerus’ work and drag it out, like a moldering zombie anytime that they want to cite research. Equally unfortunately, their base continues to believe them and focus on it as they ignore information to the contrary. I’m sure that for many of them, no amount of evidence to the contrary will change their minds.


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Mark Thoma, MD, is a physician who did his residency in internal medicine. Mark has a long history of social activism, and was an early technogeek, and science junkie, after evolving through his nerd phase. Favorite quote: “The most exciting phrase to hear in science... is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny.'” - Isaac Asimov

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  • lynchie

    Don’t get logical on me. Confusing an old man and he might wander off and get lost./

  • docsterx

    Why did he have to foresee the future? Couldn’t he just make it the way he wanted it?

  • docsterx

    Interestingly, one study mentioned that a segment of their same-sex parents were economically disadvantaged when compared to a control set of straight parents. And even those same-sex parent underprivileged families’ children scored as well or better than many of the children in the straight families.

  • docsterx

    I think the millennials already realize that same-sex parents can do just as good a job of raising children as straight parents can. My guess is that it’s the Fox News-Limbaugh fans that are the group that are staunch Regnerus supporters (along with a segment of the Christian right.) I don’t think that the majority of them are open changing their minds regardless of the amount of evidence presented.

  • docsterx

    But just planning and jumping through hoops doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with parenting skills.

    Relying on expectations is just what the conservatives do. Their expectations are that children can only grow and develop “normally” when they have opposite-sex parents. Therefore, they deduce that same-sex couples can’t raise physically and mentally healthy children. So we need studies to confirm that their case is wrong.

  • http://buddybest.tripod.com/index.html BuddyNovinski

    Anyone with a good notion of biology would recognize that sexual reproductions is a great advantage because it allows greater numbers of combinations. Life needs a variety of mixtures, right down to genes that are switched on and off under different circumstances to survive changes in environment. In addition, higher forms of life have two instincts because of that variety: self and species preservation. Species preservation is not limited to heterosexual parents, but to the community, especially if the parents be absent. So, of course, gay parents should be as good as straight ones — it’s instinct!

  • lynchie

    My guess is no study however validated will be accepted by the religious right. Science and fact based results are just not what they wrote in the Bible. My lunatic neighbor tried a new one on me. “When God wrote the bible he could forsee the future”. My reply: “so did Spiderman”.

  • lynchie

    Well they care until they are born. Then fuck-em.

  • Elijah Shalis

    Did we expect otherwise? Gay parents tend to have children as a result of planning for them and jumping through hoops to get them.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    It shouldn’t surprise anyone that parents gay or straight who want children make better parents than those who don’t. Talk to a social worker about the horrors of neglected and unwanted children. The religious right should stop worrying about children who have two parents of the same sex and start worrying about children who don’t have anyone who gives a damn about them.

  • 2patricius2

    “This flies in the faces of statements of what the Mormon, Baptist and Catholic churches profess. It contradicts the dogma from the National Organization for Marriage, that preaches that same line about the need for a female-male dyad as the only stratum in which to be able to raise well-adjusted children.”

    That’s because the statements of these churches and organizations are based on “dogma,” not on facts.
    Not every dogma is a Godma.
    Some are simply fogmas.
    Others lies and falsemas.
    Yet others bigotrymas.
    Still others ignorancemas.
    And some are silly mythmas.

  • AndyinChicago

    Even if the majority of straight parents are great parents, the percentage of straight parents who are raising an unwanted child they conceived by accident or who live with household enforced rigid gender binaries would weight things down to skew the statistics. Two loving parents are two loving parents, but the fact that gay and lesbian parents have to work a bit harder to have kids and have already given up a lot of rigidity to build their lives means that there’s that statistical advantage; within that slightly elevated group, there are still better and worse parents, and even compared to their straight counterparts there are better and worse parents, but studies like this show there should be no legal bias against gay parents. I wonder, as you mention in the last two paragraphs, how long it will take these mounting number of studies, to dilute away the bad effects of the Regnerus study.

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