Children do better in intact, biological families, study showsFriday, June 15th, 2012
Adults who were raised by same-sex parents are more likely to have been on social welfare, more likely to be unemployed and more likely to have received psychotherapy than those from intact biological families, according to new US research.
The ground-breaking study, How Different are the Adult Children of Parents Who Have Same-Sex Relationships. Findings from the New Family Structures Study examined 175 children with mothers who had had a gay relationship and 73 with fathers who had had a gay relationship, out of a sample of 3,000 adults now aged 18 to 39.
Unlike previous studies of children of same-sex parents, the study used a random sample of children. Previously, research on the subject had used “snowball” sampling, in which gay parents are recruited in the same places as their gay friends and colleagues.
The population-based survey, published in July’s Social Science Research is the largest of its kind the University of Texas said, to feature children with gay parents in such a broad, probability-sampled population. Lead author Mark Regnerus, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said, “The empirical claim that no notable differences exist must go.”
However, he cautioned that his study does not attempt to, “undermine or affirm arguments,” about gay rights or link poor adult outcomes solely to gay parenting. But it should raise the bar for research on gay parenting, according to Dr Patrick Fagan, a family and marriage scholar at the Family Research Council.
The Regnerus study is a, “gold standard,” Mr Fagan said.
And if, “you can’t draw conclusions from it,” about causality, “there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell you can draw conclusions from those other [gay parenting] studies,” he said.
When compared with adults raised in married, mother-father families, adults raised by lesbian mothers had negative outcomes in 24 of 40 categories, while adults raised by gay fathers had negative outcomes in 19 categories, according to the study.
The study found that 69 per cent of children of mothers who had had gay relationships said their family received public assistance at some point, compared with 17 per cent from married, biological parents.
It also found that just under 50 per cent of children of intact biological families said they were employed full time at the time of the survey, compared with 26 per cent of children of lesbian mothers. According to the study, children whose parents had been in same-sex relationships were more than twice as likely to be in therapy (19 per cent compared to eight per cent).
Forty per cent of those whose mother was in a same-sex relationship reported having an affair while married or cohabiting, and 25 per cent of those with a father in a same-sex relationship also reported having had an affair. By comparison, 13 per cent of those from an intact biological family reported having an affair.
Children raised by same-sex parents were also more likely to have been sexually assaulted than those raised in an intact, biological family. Twenty three per cent of children raised by a lesbian mother reported being sexually assaulted by an adult, compared to two per cent of children raised by their biological parents. The figure for those raised by same-sex fathers was six per cent.
Thirty one per cent of children raised by lesbian mothers and 25 per cent of children raised by gay fathers reported having sex against their will, compared to eight per cent of those raised in intact biological families.
Twenty per cent of those raised by lesbian mothers, and 25 per cent of those raised by gay fathers reported having had a sexually transmitted disease, compared to eight per cent of those raised by their natural mother and father.
Findings such as these do not support claims that there are “no differences” between gay parenting and heterosexual, married parents, said Mr Regnerus, who helped develop the New Family Structures Study at the university.
by Tom O'Gorman