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Study finds ‘No differences’ between children of same-sex and opposite-sex parents

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By Nadia Kounang


(CNN) — A new study in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics finds that the kids really are all right. Despite the ongoing cultural debate around same-sex parenting, the new study finds the children of same-sex parents are just as healthy emotionally and physically as the children of different-sex parents.

An apples to apples comparison

Dr. Nanette Gartrell, one of the study’s authors, said the aim was to do a real population-based, apples to apples comparison. “It is the only study to compare same-sex and different-sex parent households with stable, continuously coupled parents and their biological offspring,” said Gartrell. This study tried to compensate for the shortcomings of previous studies, which recruited same-sex parent families and could thus establish a certain selection bias. “It’s been a goal of ours to do a nationally representative survey in which we could do this very carefully matched study,” she said

Using the National Survey of Children’s Health on emotional and physical well being, Gartrell and her colleagues matched 95 same-sex female parent households to 95 different-sex parent based on the following characteristics:

Parents’ age Parents’ level of education Whether parents were born in the United States Family residence (urban or rural) Child’s age Child’s race Child’s gender Whether the child was born in the United States or elsewhere

No differences in children’s outcomes

The study found that there were no differences in the children when it came to their general health, their emotional difficulties, their coping behaviors and their learning behaviors. What the study found to be more indicative predictors of these behaviors were the relationships between the parents, the parents and child, and parenting stress.

The study did note that lesbian parents seem to exhibit higher levels of parenting stress, which Gartell attributed to perceived homophobia. “Parents feel pressured to justify the quality of their parenting more than their heterosexual counterparts. We also suspect and feel that more study is warranted, but the cultural spotlight on same-sex parenting may be part of the stress,” she said.

Those against same-sex parenting have pointed to studies that have found gay parents to have a negative impact on childhood outcomes, such as lower levels of income, and poorer mental and physical health

Gartell said studies like those didn’t compensate for the fact that they were comparing children from same-sex couples who were not continuously coupled. Rather, those studies looked at children from same-sex families who experienced family upheaval such as divorce, adoption or foster care and compared them to children from stable households with different-sex parents.

The current study only looked at lesbian households, because when households were finally matched and controlled for continuous relationships, there were too few male same-sex households.

Gartrell said this is by no means the final study to be done on same-sex parenting. “We still have so much to learn and find out about different types of families,” she said.

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  • bob III

    I am curious of children raised in homosexual household are more likely to be homosexual themselves. Just based on how kids mimic their parents.

  • FinnyWiggen

    Comparing “apples to apples” is itself a pretty big bias that these researchers are introducing into their study.

    They imply that they had to work pretty darn hard to find gay couples whose life styles, education, and commitment match that of heterosexual couples.

    In other words they hand selected the gay couples they would use, rather than using typical, off the shelf couples, representative of the larger population.

    They then attempt to present this as a good thing, in order to mask their bias hand picking of their couples.

    Other studies compare typical heterosexual couples to typical gay couples, and don’t rely on hand picking the gay couples to get the desired outcome.

  • liberalssuckhard

    Man shall not lieth with man as he does with woman for it is an abomination.
    No such thing as a christian LGBT.Sorry doesn’t work…….
    If man only had sex with man or woman with woman,their would be no procreation and the human race would die out.


    Lucky is the child who lives in a loving home with his/her bio-mom and bio-dad. They can observe and enjoy the difference each parent brings to the table. It’s just a whole lot less confusing to the child.

  • Kalisita

    @Bob III: From the research I’ve been able to find, the American Psychological Association estimates that kids raised by gay parents have the same chances of being gay as kids raised by hetero couples. In this sort of relationship, as in romantic relationships, it seems that the most important thing is that the people involved are of quality character- sexual orientation has little to do with having integrity and compassion.

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