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In a world where marriage between individuals of the same sex is increasingly recognised in law, opponents still believe that children raised by gay couples “end up worse” when they don’t live in a heteronormative household. It’s a common theory that children try to be like the people they look up to, most commonly their parents. This is why the idea that children will have the same sexuality as their parents has developed.
Contrary to this belief, many studies have shown that there is actually no difference between the children raised by gay parents to the children raised by straight parents. The percentage of children who are confused, or out as homosexual is the same for children from homosexual households as it is for children from hetersexual households. As the number of lesbian and gay parents has increased, so has the concern for the wellbeing of their children. But still there has been no scientific conclusion that states that these concerns are legitimate.
J. Michael Bailey, a professor at Northwestern University, collected data from a survey taken by 55 gay or bisexual men who reported on 82 sons at least 17 years of age and discovered that more than 90% of their sons who were old enough to decide their sexual orientations were defined as heterosexual. The data from the survey was compared to data collected from heterosexuals with sons age 17 and older. Results suggest that any influence of gay fathers may have on their sons’ sexual orientation that heterosexual fathers don’t have is not large. Factors like how long their children lived at home, or wether their parents were lesbian, gay, or heterosexual, had no effect on the sexuality of the children in this study.
In the 2000 U. S. Census, 33% of female same-sex couple households and 22% of male same-sex couple households reported at least one child under the age of 18 living in the home. Although exposure to prejudice and discrimination because of their parents sexuality may cause distress, there is no reliable evidence that homosexual orientation impairs psychological functioning, and therefore does not change the child’s sexual orientation in any way. Research suggests that sexual identities (including gender identity, gender-role behavior, and sexual orientation) develop in the same ways among children of lesbian mothers as they do among children of heterosexual parents. 23 studies published between 1978 and 2000 on 615 children raised by lesbian mothers or gay fathers were reviewed, and were assessed by psychological tests, questionnaires or interviews.
Seven types of outcomes were found to be typical:
1. emotional functioning,
2. sexual preference,
4. gender role behavior,
5. behavioral adjustment,
6. gender identity,
7. cognitive functioning.
Children raised by lesbian mothers or gay fathers did not systematically differ from other children on any of the outcomes. James G. Pawelski, MD, Director of the Division of State Government Affairs at the American
Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), conducted a study for a 2006 issue of Pediatrics, where he came to the conclusion that the gender identity of preadolescent children raised by lesbian mothers has been found consistently to be in line with their biological gender. None of 500 children studied have shown evidence of gender-identity or sexuality confusion, or consistently engaged in cross-gender behavior. No differences have been found in the toy, game, activity, dress, or friendship preferences of children who had lesbian mothers, compared with those who had heterosexual mothers.
According to Walter Schumm, only five to ten percent of children with homosexual parents turn out to be gay themselves. His analysis of families with older children showed that 33% of gay families, and 58% of lesbian families included at least one gay or lesbian child. He analyzed data obtained from 26 studies of gay parents and their children. He noted that many of the studies’ authors had dismissed the idea of a parental influence on children’s homosexuality, coming to the conclusion that there was no correlation. Schumm noted that there was a significant amount of respondents who showed no clearly defined sexual preference as “heterosexual” in the analysis, so the idea that children of gay families are more open to different sexualities and genders remains a true stereotype.
The most common fear surrounding homosexual parents is that they will confuse their children’s identities. The fear was that the children of gay and lesbian parents would be put at a lifelong disadvantage because of their gender confusion, and potentially disrupt society by operating outside of social norms and roles. Results from the first studies of this concept refuted it, showing that children of homosexual parents were no more confused than children of straight parents.
Many of the initial studies exploring the effects that gay and lesbian parents had on their children’s gender role behavior and identity used novel methods of determining how well the children’s conceptions of gender fit those of their heterosexually parented peers.
A study, published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, looked at 190 families (95 heterosexual, 95 lesbian) with children between ages 1 and 6. This study was based on the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children’s Health, and the families were selected from the 95,677 households who completed interviews. Initial analysis revealed 139 lesbian couples and 17 gay couples, but these were reduced to 106 families (95 female, 11 male). This was because the researchers wanted families that had their children since infancy, as divorce and parental separation could affect the development of a child. Having such a small sample for male same-sex couples, the researchers focused solely on female same-sex couples and constructed a control sample of different sex parents from the general population based on the age, education, U.S. birth status, and current geographic location of the parents, as well as the age, sex, race/ethnicity, and U.S. birth status of the children. They looked at the children’s general health, emotional difficulties, coping behavior, and learning behavior, and discovered no differences between children raised by same-sex or different-sex parents.
In a 2010 review of virtually every study on gay parenting, New York University sociologist Judith Stacey and University of Southern California sociologist Tim Biblarz found no differences between children raised in homes with two heterosexual parents and children raised with lesbian parents. Children of heterosexual parents tend to have more traditional ideas of gender and sexuality, compared to those of homosexual parents who are more open to a wider range of categories for people to fall into. “There’s no doubt whatsoever from the research that children with two lesbian parents are growing up to be just as well-adjusted and successful as children with a male and a female parent,” Stacey told LiveScience. Many of these experiments that show that homosexual relationships have no effect on children are still considered “up for debate” because the sample groups studied are small, and there is a lack of comparison for most studies and surveys.
In a 2001 review of 21 different studies looking at the sexualities and gender roles of children raised by homosexual parents it was found that 80% of the children do not identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual and identify as heterosexual. This refutes the idea that children of homosexual relationships adopt the sexualities of their parents.
A 2005 review by Charlotte J. Patterson for the American Psychological Association found that the available data did not suggest higher rates of homosexuality among the children of lesbian or gay parents.The New Family Structures Study (NFSS) is a social-science data-collection project that conducted a study to see of there were any differences between children of homosexual relationships and children of heterosexual relationships in over 40 areas of social, emotional, and relational outcome variables when compared with six other family-of-origin types. The data showed slight differences in some areas, but none of the results indicated that children of homosexual families were more likely to be homosexual.While the data collected on this topic is limited, it has been proven that homosexual parents have no adverse effect on their children’s sexuality.
Researchers have studied, and re-studied, over 40 data collections and surveys to come to the conclusion that while homosexual relationships do create minor differences in children to heterosexual relationships they don’t have any effect on sexuality or gender. There are 74 scientifically peer-reviewed and published studies showing that gay and bisexual parents in stable same-sex relationships don’t disadvantage their children. The four claiming the opposite have been either debunked or have never been peer-reviewed.
Works Cited: https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/researcher-children-of-same-sex-couples-more-likely-to-be-homosexualChamberlin, Shelby.
“THE EFFECTS OF LESBIAN AND GAY PARENTING ON CHILDREN’S DEVELOPMENT.” cola.unh.edu/sites/cola.unh.edu/files/student-journals/ShelbyChamberlin.pdf“ Last updated on: 6/15/2009 12:36:00 PM PST
Born Gay? Home Page > Causes: Psychological (Nurture) > Are Children Who Are Raised by Gay Parents More Likely to Be Gay Themselves? > Are Children Who Are Raised by Gay Parents More Likely to Be Gay Themselves?” borngay.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=000028
“Same-Sex Parenting Has No Negative Impact On Children’s Health.” doi:10.1075/ps.5.3.02chi.audio.2f.Pappas, Stephanie.
“Gay Parents Better Than Straight Parents? What Research Says.” 1 June 2012, www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/16/gay-parents-better-than-straights_n_1208659.html
“LGBT Parenting.” en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_parenting#Sexual_orientation_and_gender_role
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