Gay parenting: Are the kids alright?

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Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals can be good parents. However, despite us knowing this, and despite research showing that this is true, it is still helpful to know the arguments as to why it’s OK to start an LGBTI family. Knowing the arguments can help you get the best for your family and debunk any myths you might encounter along the way. To help with this, Pink Families tackles some of the myths about LGBTI parenting, which we refer to as gay parenting in this post.

Myth 1: The children will be psychologically damaged

This is just a myth. The evidence doesn’t support this.

Research dating back from as early as the 1970s has shown that, in terms of psychological functioning, children who have lesbian and or gay parents do just as well as children of heterosexual parents. They are not psychologically damaged.

Myth 2: The children will be bullied and this is not fair on the child

One argument that you may encounter is that the children of LGBTI families will have it tougher in society. They will be, for example, bullied and excluded from other opportunities that their peers will have just because their parents are LGBTI.

Implied in this argument is the belief that it is OK for homophobic bullying, biphobic bullying and transphobic bullying to exist in society.

But this type of bullying is extraordinary it shouldn’t be allowed to take place. It is extraordinary in the same way that racist bullying is extraordinary. Not all children are subjected to racist bullying and not all children should be subjected to homophobic, transphobic or biphobic bullying.

Rather than excluding someone from being a parent because of the unacceptable behavior of someone else, help address the root of the problem by stamping out bullying.

Myth 3: The children will turn out to be gay or transgender

Children from female and male same-sex parent families don’t experience any greater sexual or gender confusion than their equivalents from heterosexual families. There have been far fewer studies that have investigated this with transgender and intersex families. However, the lack of evidence to show that this isn’t true does not mean that it is true.

Admittedly, just like children from straight families, the children from LGBTI families will most probably look up to their parents and want to be just like them. This is normal. At certain points of their life, this is a sign of healthy development.

At the same time, there is no evidence to suggest that having an LGBTI role model is harmful to any individual. This is true regardless of whether or not they are related to them by blood or friendship. Plus, having an LGBTI role model does not mean that the child will assume their sexual or gender orientation.

Studies have identified that lesbian, gay and bisexual parents can and do raise children well. Their parenting skills are just as good as their straight counterparts. There is no evidence that children with LGBTI parents are more likely to turn out to have the same sexual or gender orientation as their parents. This is a myth.

Myth 4: It won’t be good for society

LGBTI individuals and couples make good families and good parents. For example, when it comes to adoption they help the state by providing a home for children receiving welfare. This has positive economic and social implications for society. Research has shown that children being cared for by the state generally do less well than children cared for by individuals or families.

Research has shown that children with gay or lesbian adoptive parents do just as well psychologically and cognitively (thinking) as compared to their straight counterparts. Research also shows that this is true even when children from high-risk backgrounds are placed with gay or lesbian parents.

Myth 5: Children need both a mother and a father

The research into this shows that this isn’t the case.

For example, the research into whether or not lesbians make good enough mothers dates back to the 1970s. Since this time the research has grown considerably. Over many decades the research has consistently shown that children with lesbians as mothers are not negatively impacted upon psychologically by having two moms.

This evidence shows that children don’t need a mother and a father. In fact what the research shows is that children need a loving and stable environment that is supportive of them and one that nurtures them. This type of environment is quite clearly already being provided by lesbian, gay, trans, gender queer or intersex families around the world.

References

Golombok S. Unusual families. Reproductive Biomedicine Online 2005 Mar;10 Suppl 1:9-12.

Golombok S, Perry B, Burston A, Murray C, Mooney-Somers J, Stevens M, et al. Children with Lesbian Parents: A Community Study. Developmental Psychology 2003;39(1):20-33.

Golombok S. Adoption by lesbian couples. BMJ 2002 15;324(7351):1407-8.

Lavner JA, Waterman J, Peplau LA. Can Gay and Lesbian Parents Promote Healthy Development in High-Risk Children Adopted from Foster Care? American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 2012;82(4):465-472.

In this video below Senator Penny Wong from Australia (who has a child with her same-sex partner) responds to the argument that children need a mother and a father.

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