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Study: Same-Sex Parents Raise Well-Adjusted Kids

Researchers Say Children Who Grow Up in Households With Gay Parents Have Normal Self-Esteem
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct.12, 2005 (Washington) -- Children growing up in same-sex parental households do not necessarily have differences in self-esteem, gender identity, or emotional problems from children growing up in heterosexual parent homes.

"There are a lot of children with at least one gay or lesbian parent," says Ellen C. Perrin, MD, professor of pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. She revealed the findings at the American Academy of Pediatrics Conference and Exhibition.

Between 1 million and 6 million children in the U.S. are being reared by committed lesbian or gay couples, she says. Children being raised by same-sex parents were either born to a heterosexual couple, adopted, or conceived through artificial insemination.

"The vast consensus of all the studies shows that children of same-sex parents do as well as children whose parents are heterosexual in every way," she tells WebMD. "In some ways children of same-sex parents actually may have advantages over other family structures."

Study Results

Researchers looked at information gleaned from 15 studies on more than 500 children, evaluating possible stigma, teasing and social isolation, adjustment and self-esteem, opposite gender role models, sexual orientation, and strengths.

Studies from 1981 to 1994, including 260 children reared by either heterosexual mothers or same-sex mothers after divorce, found no differences in intelligence, type or prevalence of psychiatric disorders, self-esteem, well-being, peer relationships, couple relationships, or parental stress.

"Some studies showed that single heterosexual parents' children have more difficulties than children who have parents of the same sex," Perrin says. "They did better in discipline, self-esteem, and had less psychosocial difficulties at home and at school."

Another study of 37 children of 27 divorced lesbian mothers and a similar number of children of heterosexual mothers found no differences in behavior, adjustment, gender identity, and peer relationships.

Equitable Division of Chores

Two other large studies involving more than 100 couples found that same-sex parents also had contact with extended family, had social support, and had a more equitable division of labor in the home.

"Lesbian couples share household responsibilities and chores more equitably," Perrin says. "And, the children of lesbian couples are less aggressive, more nurturing to peers, more tolerant of diversity, and more inclined to play with both boy's and girl's toys.

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