Homosexuality and bisexuality
An overview of same-sex parenting
How many children are involved?
There are rumors of a "baby boom" among committed lesbian couples. Meanwhile,
gay couples appear to be adopting children in increasing numbers. Other
homosexuals and bisexuals are attempting to adopt the natural children that
their same-sex partners have brought into the relationship. Increasingly, courts
are allowing gay and lesbian parents to retain custody of their children after
marital separation and divorce.
Unfortunately, we have not been able to uncover
any precise data concerning the number of such families:
Reuters reported that:
"The number of U.S. children with at least one gay parent is
estimated at between 1 million and 9 million." 1,2
Corresponding figures for Canada are probably about one-tenth of these values.
The American Psychiatric Association cites that: "estimates
of the numbers of lesbian mothers range from 1 to 5 million and with the
number of children ranging from 6 to 14 million." 3
With the increased visibility of gays and lesbians in society, religious
leaders, child psychologists, and other professionals are questioning whether
children raised by a gay or lesbian couple "fare as well in emotional,
cognitive, social, and sexual functioning as do children whose parents are
heterosexual." 4 Conclusions are mixed.
Positions taken by various groups:
Conservative Christians often agree with "neoconservative
social scientists." They express concern that "cohabiting
couples, single mothers, and gay and lesbian parents" will raise
children who exhibit poor psychological adjustment. For religious
reasons, they are opposed equal rights for gays and lesbians --
including the right to marry and adopt children. They believe that the
presence in the family of a father is "essential to positive child
development and that responsible fathering is most likely to occur within the
context of heterosexual marriage." These beliefs are derived from
their belief that a father and mother have very different and rigid prescribed
roles to play in a family. However,
conservative Christians have not promoted laws to remove of children from single parent families
whose children often lack a close relationship with an adult of one gender.
Lesbians, gays, religious liberals, child psychologists,
pediatricians, and others often assert
that "neither mothers nor fathers are unique or essential" to the
successful raising of children. Parent(s) in a motherless or fatherless
family can compensate for the non-present gender by involving their
children with an adult from outside of the family. Many also support "the
legitimacy of diverse family structures, rather than policy that
privileges the two-parent, heterosexual, married family." 5
Children in single parent families:
It is generally acknowledged that children who are
raised by a single parent, whether heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian, often suffer disadvantages,
when compared to
children who are raised by opposite-sex parents. Many single parent
families are poor. The single parent is often away from home for long periods at
work. However, there appears to be little or no evidence that children being raised by a
single lesbian or gay parent is any more disadvantaged than children raised by a
single heterosexual parent. The main problem faced by such children is
homophobia among friends, and at school and church. This type of bigotry is
similar to that experienced by children of parents who are members of any other
minority, whether of a race, nationality or religion that is different from the
majority. This prejudice can have either a positive or negative influence on the
Studies showing that same-sex parenting does not harm children:
Most studies in the literature, and statements by professional associations, agree that children raised by
a same-sex couple develop as well as those raised by an opposite-sex couple.
1996: The first attempt in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriage
happened in Hawaii. During the trial, the State was at a severe disadvantage, because all of the expert
witnesses, both for the plaintiffs and the defense said that gay and lesbian
couples are as fit and as loving as opposite sex couples. None of the witnesses for the
defense were able to demonstrate that harm would come to Hawaii if it recognized same-sex
On 1996-DEC-3, Judge Kevin Chang wrote in his ruling:
"The evidence presented by [the] plaintiffs and defendant establishes that the
single most important factor in the development of a happy, healthy and well-adjusted
child is the nurturing relationship between parent and child."6 More details on the
2002: The Committee on Psychological
Aspects of Child and Family Health of the American Academy of
Pediatrics said that no substantial differences were found between the
children raised by homosexual and heterosexual parents. 7
2003: In a case that legalized
same-sex marriage in the state of Massachusetts,
the court found that there was plenty of evidence that children do better
when raised in a two parent family than in a single parent family. But there
was no evidence that children in a family led by two same-sex parents were
at a disadvantage when compared to children led by opposite-sex parents.
2006: During a court case by a lesbian couple
who want their Canadian marriage to be recognized in Ireland, Professor
Richard Green a U.S. psychiatrist, research director at the Gender
Identity Clinic at Charing Cross Hospital, London testified. He said
that studies show that the welfare of children is not adversely affected
when they are raised by lesbian parents. He explained that the quality of
the parenting itself and not the gender of the parent, is the
essential ingredient. He rejected suggestions by State counsel that it was "premature"
to draw any long-term conclusions from existing studies as to the long-term
development of children raised by lesbians, or that the methodology used in
such studies was flawed. Green said that a large body of data shows children
in lesbian families are doing "very well."
A family led by two adults of the same gender lacks a continually available
opposite-gendered parent that the children can use as a role model. Gay and lesbian
couples appear to be aware of this potential problem. Lesbian mothers, for
example, have been shown to be more concerned with providing male role models
for their children than are divorced heterosexual mothers. 4
The main problem faced by children of same-sex parents is caused by the bigotry
of others; they are frequently teased by other children for having two mothers
or two fathers. This is expected to
fade over time as society becomes more tolerant of sexual minorities.
Suggestions that same-sex parenting harms children:
Focus on the Family, a fundamentalist Christian para-church group,
cites a number of disadvantages that they believe children of same-sex parents
||More likely to become promiscuous
||More likely to experiment with same-sex behavior
They also claim that children who are raised in a stable family led by
married, opposite-sex parents have certain advantages:
||They are physically healthier
||They are emotionally healthier,
||They do better academically
||They experience less poverty
The commit fewer crimes. 8
Unfortunately, they merely make these statements without proof.
They also suggest that children of same-sex parents are more likely to lose a
parent to AIDS, substance abuse or suicide. These are probably true. However,
they can be used to promote:
||The availability of marriage to all couples, both opposite-sex and
same-sex. Marriage removes individual from the single lifestyle where they
are more likely to have multiple sexual partners and contract STDs.
||The elimination of homophobia so that sexual minorities are not driven
to substance abuse, depression and suicide by oppression and/or internalized
Suggestions that same-sex parenting studies are unreliable:
Robert Lerner and Althea Nagai conducted a meta study of 49 evaluations of
same-sex parenting. They found at least one major research flaw in each of the
studies. Various studies exhibited:
||Unclear hypotheses and research designs
||Missing or inadequate comparison groups
||Self-constructed, unreliable and invalid measurements
||Non-random samples, including participants who recruit other
||Samples too small to yield meaningful results
||Missing or inadequate statistical analysis.
They concluded that
"... no generalizations can reliably be made based on any of these
studies. For these reasons the studies are no basis for good science or good
public policy. 9
Even though they find that individual studies contain
flaws, the fact that all 49 studies reach a consensus is a very
strong indication that same-sex parenting is as successful as opposite-sex
parenting. However, it would be really great if those 49 studies could somehow
be traded in for a handful of impeccably designed and executed studies.
Personal observations of the author:
I am very irritated at the lack of definitive studies in so many areas:
During the 1980s and early 1990s there were probably tens of thousands
of therapists who used recovered memory therapy (RMT)
to convince clients that they were sexually abused by children. Other
therapists built on this technique to convince clients that they were
victims of Satanic Ritual Abuse. When the science
finally caught up with the practice, it was realized that RMT actually
generated what appeared to be memories of events that never happened.
During the 1990s, Facilitated Communication
(FC) was claimed to allow some autistic children to communicate. Years
later, the technique was found to be without value. However, many families
of origin had already been destroyed by the results of FC.
Reparative Therapy is being promoted
conservative Christian groups as a method by which sexual minorities can
convert their sexual orientation to heterosexuality. Professional
associations criticize the therapy because of its miniscule (or zero)
success rate and lack of safety.
Conservative Christian groups generally consider
homosexuality to be unnatural, abnormal, chosen, changeable and immoral
behavior. Religious liberals, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, sexuality
researchers, psychiatrists etc. generally consider homosexuality to be a
normal and natural sexual orientation for a minority of adults. It is
discovered, not chosen, is fixed, and is morally neutral.
||As noted above, conservative Christians generally believe that same-sex
parenting harms children; others feel that, on average, both types of
families raise well adjusted children.
The public desperately need to reach a consensus on these types of debates.
Proceeding with therapeutic techniques whose efficacy and safety has not been
established is dangerous to people's health and lives. A lack of a consensus
over homosexual and other sexual minorities adds to the oppression and
discrimination that they experience.
Books to assist lesbians to in conception, pregnancy and birth:
Amazon.com customers rated the following two books highly:
Laumann EO. National Health and Social Life Survey. Chicago, IL:
University of Chicago and National Opinion Research Center; 1995
"U.S. Pediatricians Argue for Rights of Gay Parents," Reuter's
News, 2002-FEB-4, at:
"FactSheet: Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Issues," American Psychiatric
Association, 2000-MAY, at:
http://www.psych.org/public_info/ You need software to read these files.
It can be obtained free from:
"Technical Report: Coparent or Second-Parent Adoption by
Same-Sex Parents." Pediatrics, 2002-FEB, Volume 109, #3, Pages 341 to 344.
Louise Silverstein & Carl Auerbach, "Deconstructing the Essential
Father," American Psychological Association, at:
Judge Kevin Chang's ruling was at
http://www.ftm.org/archive/chang-ruling.txt It seems to be no longer available online.
"No difference if children raised by lesbian parents, court hears,"
Irish Independent, 2006-OCT-07, at:
"Focus on the Family Gives the Facts on Gay Adoption.
Pro-Family Organization Reaffirms the Importance of the Traditional Family,"
Focus on the Family, 2002-MAR-19, at:
Robert Lerner & Althea K. Nagai, "No Basis: What the
Studies Don't Tell Us About Same-Sex Parenting," Catholic University of America,
Copyright © 2002 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on
Date of last update: 2010-MAY-28
Author: B.A. Robinson