Does the Sexual Orientation of Parents Affect Children?

Social science research on LGBT family issues began receiving attention in the 70's and 80's when researchers primarily examined children who were being raised by lesbian mothers after divorce or separation. Few differences were found between children with lesbian mothers and children who divorced mothers were heterosexual. More recently, research has grown to address a wider range of LGBT families and has been successful in studying children raised from birth in families headed by same-sex couples, including gay men. These studies found that none of the children studied identified gender identity confusion or consistently engaged in cross-gender behaviors. There were no differences in toy, game, activity, dress, or friendship preferences of boys or girls in LGBT families compared to heterosexual families. All in all, the results provide no evidence that a parent's sexual orientation has any significant impact on child or adolescent development.

However, the research outcomes continue to incite passionate divisions among those who highly heavy on Western culture's convictions about sexuality, gender, marriage and parenting. The "main priority" of the Westernized US would have us believe that any non-conforming heterosexual person should not be allowed to be in a position of authority or influence in the life of a child. The greater supposition here is that children are too vulnerable and naïve to be exposed to non-normative sexuality (often viewed as deviant behavior) and be able to remain "normal" or non-deviant themselves. These opponents (led by Brigham Young University and the Mormon Church) go further by assaulting the quality of the scientific research that supports the efficacy of same-sex parenting, characterizing the research methods as adequately flawed (Strode, 2008).

Conversely, in a less biased study examining the impact of parental sexual orientation, and exploring the validity and relativity of social research on LGBT parenting, Stacey and Biblarz (2001) from University of Southern California conclude that social prejudice and institutionalized discrimination against lesbians and gay Men, exert imposed controls over terminology used in psychological research and public discipline in order to color the significance of parental sexual orientation. For example, there is the implicit presumption that healthy child development depends on parenting by married heterosexual couples. Few studies have attempted to consider such factors as the number and gender of a child's parents before and after a parent came out as LGBT as well as other pertinent factors that can influence child development. While anti-gay schools position themselves to show evidence of harm done to children raised by non-heterosexual parents and suggest that ideological family values ​​(ie, that heterosexual parenting is the gold standard and lesbigay parents and their children are inferior) figure veryly in how Studies are designed, conducted, and extremely interpreted (2001).


With so much at stake in terms of the political implications of this research (eg, sexual orientation depriving parents of marriage rights-child custody-adoptive rights-fertility services, hospital visitation rights, joint income tax filing, etc.) sometimes, the research Which currently benefits the "no differences" defensive stance, should seek to ask questions that could potentially provide us with "beneficial differences" of children being raised by LGBT parents. Moreover, social obstacles to LBGT parenthood, warrants thorough consideration, as well as describing attention of comparative research that highlights the fruitfulness of diversity in the LGBT parented child. As for my own counseling work with hundreds of children and families, I have noted many positive distinctions among children being raised by LGBT parents as compared to typical hetero-parented families. For example, I have witnessed children in LGBT families as being less likely to struggle with accepting others' differences, and find more egalitarian practices among LGBT families that encourage healthy clinical practices. At the same time, I have noted that there is more aggressive behavior and hierarchal (ie, people are greater than or less than others) attitudes in children from traditional families. I have also found conventional hetero-parents often struggling with authoritative and / or permissive parenting styles that promote power struggles, and typically result in encouraging impulsive and conflictual behaviors in their children. Further, I have noted that daughters with lesbian mothers or gay fathers are more apt to aim toward becoming politicians, lawyers, engineers, and other male dominated careers. In addition, I have experienced boys with same-sex parents having a greater affinity towards carers that would allow them to nurture younger children. This is at least an indication to me that children of LGBT families are less prone to the societal constitutions of gender related biases, which again may be a constructive difference descripting of recognition.

Let's stop being naïve recipients of research studies with preconceived outcomes; We know that parent (s) affect-affect their children in various ways, regardless of sexual orientation. I believe that research should be exploring and comparing the interactions of gender, sexual orientation, and biosocial family structures on child development, while staying attuned to the latent potency of LGBT parenting with a more pluralist approach to family research. The "American family" does not simply consist of hetero-man-woman-parented families and same-sex-parented families, and research needs to include the great diversity of forms that families have taken. It is my opinion that the outcomes of such research could potentially reduce homophobia, and gender and racial bigotry in hetero-normative groups, improving the status of LGBT parents / families, and sanction the creation of diverse families across the boundaries of gender, race, And sexuality.

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Tamberly Mott


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