Recently, the University of Melbourne released the first official results from its Australian Study of Child Health In Same-Sex Families. The results made news around the world because they showed that kids of same-gender parents not only do as well as their peers with straight parents but in some areas they actually fare better.
According to the study, in the areas of mood, behavior, temperament and mental health there is no statistical differences between kids with lesbian or gay parents and those with straight parents. However, when measuring general health and family cohesion, the kids of lesbian and gay parents scored nearly 6 percent higher than the general population.
Now, I’m cynical enough to believe you can make a study say whatever you want. Groups opposed to marriage equality have been using research by University of Texas at Austin’s associate professor of sociology Mark Regnerus as proof of their argument. Never mind it was commissioned by a conservative think tank with close ties to the National Organization for Marriage, and only two of his test subjects were raised by same-gender parents from birth. Oh, and they’re doing great—oops!
So I asked some experts familiar with the study exactly what it means.
According to Colleen R. Logan, Ph.D., a member and past president of the American Counseling Association, and program manager of the Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling master’s program at Walden University, the Australian research is just the latest in a long line of well-documented research pointing to the same results.
Dr. Logan told me, “This exciting research confirms what we already know, kids with same-gender parents not only thrive but they seem to do even better than other kids, especially when it comes to empathy and appreciation for differences, making the world a better and more equitable place.”
Wesley Davidson, author of the blog straightparentgaykid.blogspot.com, who has joined forces with a psychiatrist to co-write an advice book for straight parents of gay and lesbian children, agrees. She said the study puts to rest the notion that happy, emotionally stable children are the exclusive result of being raised by a straight mother and father.
What I found interesting were Davidson’s thoughts on why the study produced these findings: “Because same-sex marriages are more equitable and not based on outdated stereotypes, the byproducts are children, who are happier and reap the rewards of happily married parents.”
The fact that gay and lesbian couples are more likely to share the everyday tasks related to raising their kids, as well as more equitably divide household responsibilities based on skill sets rather than gender seems to help provide more stable, happy homes for kids.
Clearly I’ve always known that raising happy, emotionally healthy kids has nothing to do with the sexuality of their parents. It has to do with providing them with a loving, stable home life. It’s nice, however to have legitimate, respected research to back me up.
It’s important to mention that the study did show one downside: kids raised by same-gender parents can face discrimination by those who believe having two moms or two dads is wrong. It’s the same stigma that comes with any type of ignorance and hatred, and equally as unfair for kids to have to face.
The good news, however, is that even that is changing. As Dr. Logan told me, “Frankly, I was not surprised by the results of this study. I think we should know this to be the case by now.”