Children of same sex couples are happier and healthier than children raised by heterosexual couples, a major study conducted by The University of Melbourne found.
In the largest and most comprehensive study of its kind, researchers examined the social, physical and mental well-being of 500 Australian children from infancy to 17 years old in 315 same-sex households. The results show that children of same-sex parents scored just as well, if not better, than their peers on a number of key health indicators.
On measures of general health and family cohesion, children of same-sex parents scored 6 percent higher than children raised by heterosexual parents, even when adjusted for parents’ education and financial status. On all other health measures, such as emotional behavior, there was no significant difference between children with same-sex versus heterosexual parents.
A likely reason kids with same-sex parents experience stronger family cohesion is that same-sex parents play more equal roles than heterosexual ones, the authors noted in the study. While gender norms influence heterosexual couples’ decision making, according to the researchers, same-sex couples make decisions based on individual suitability.
“So what this means is that people take on roles that are suited to their skill sets rather than falling into those gender stereotypes, which is mum staying home and looking after the kids and dad going out to earn money,” lead researcher Dr. Simon Crouch told ABC news in Australia. “What this leads to is a more harmonious family unit and therefore feeding on to better health and well-being.”
These findings are particularly exciting for gay marriage activists as the lack of research surrounding same-sex parenting is a common argument against gay marriage. During last year’s Supreme Court hearing on the Defense of Marriage Act, for instance, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia argued against gay marriage claiming same-sex parenting was potentially harmful to children:
“If you redefine marriage to include same-sex couples, you must—you must permit adoption by same-sex couples, and there’s—there’s considerable disagreement among—among sociologists as to what the consequences of raising a child in a—in a single-sex family, whether that is harmful to the child or not.”
If there was considerable disagreement before, let this clear it up. Same-sex couples can make really great parents.
These kids are doing just fine, but the research also said they could be doing even better if the stigma around their nontraditional families were to shift in a more positive direction.
Children of same-sex parents do experience problems related to their parents’ sexual orientation, but these problems are not from inside their family.
Two-thirds of children of same-sex parents reported experiencing social stigma due to their parents’ sexual orientation. Stigma is experienced in careless and explicit ways, ranging from letters addressed to parents as Mr. and Mrs. to gossiping about their parents to physical bullying. This stigma takes a significant toll on children’s physical and mental health, the study found.
Theoretically, if this stigma were to away, it leads one to think that these kids would be doing even better than they are, which is already pretty good.
One in four same-sex American couples are raising children compared to about half of heterosexual couples, according to the 2010 US census.Denali can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @DenaliTietjen.