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New study finds gay parents just as good as opposite-sex parents

Study finds gay parents reported feeling under pressure to prove they're good parents - but child outcomes remain the same across the board

New study finds gay parents just as good as opposite-sex parents
The research compared same-sex moms with opposite-sex parents

A new study published by a major child health journal has concluded that gay parents are just as good as opposite-sex parents.

It’s a major win for LGBT parenting as the study used data from the National Survey of Children’s Health in the US. In the past, those who oppose gay parenting – including University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus – have criticized similar studies because families self-select to participate in the research, which means they may not be representative of all same-sex parenting families.

But using the National Survey of Children’s Health meant gay parents could be compared with demographically similar different-sex parents.

Happy families

The study also negated any adverse effects that divorce or the breakdown of a relationship might have on children, a major criticism of the Regnerus research. Lead report author Henny Bos, Ph.D said: ‘This study is the first to use a nationally representative survey to compare the two types of households by focusing only on those with parents that have been in a continuous relationship.’

The report was written by researchers affiliated with LGBT think-tank the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, the University of Amsterdam and Columbia University. It was published in The Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, the official journal of child health organization the Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

Study on lesbian parents

However, because not enough male same-sex parents were included in the data, the study only focused on lesbian parents, matching 95 lesbian couples to 95 similar different-sex families. They were matched on parental age, education, US birth status, geographic location and the child’s age, gender, ethnicity and US birth status.

While there was no difference between family relationships and child outcomes in families with gay parents and families with opposite-sex parents, the study did find that gay parents reported more parenting stress.

Psychiatrist and co-author Nanette Gartrell, MD, Visiting Scholar at the Williams Institute, commented: ‘Some of our earlier studies have shown that lesbian mothers feel pressured to justify the quality of their parenting because of their sexual orientation.’

This perhaps only strengthens the position of same-sex parents, though, as the additional parenting stress did not negatively affect child outcomes.

The consensus of the research, then, is that gay parents are just as capable as opposite-sex parents, despite the possibility that being a gay parent is even harder – due to social stigma and the pressure that some gay parents reported experiencing.

You can read the full study here.


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