In this week’s edition of shockingly obvious news that is, unfortunately, still not obvious to a lot of people (see: traditional-marriage enthusiasts and anti-gay bigots) the children raised by same-sex families are… wait for it… totally okay! In fact, they’re more than okay! They’re healthy, open-minded and thriving with Mommy and Mama or Mom and Lesbian Dad, Mom and Mom, or whatever else they call their loving, same-sex parents. Melbourne University recently conducted the largest study ever on children in same-sex families and found that these kids are not only doing well, but in some ways, they’re doing better than the children of straight parents.
Melbourne’s researchers collected data from over 500 children, and 315 lesbian, gay, and bisexual parents, to monitor key indicators of health. What the Australian Study of Child Health found is that there’s no difference between the children in same-sex-parented families and those with heterosexual parents when it comes to issues of self-esteem, emotional behaviour, and the amount of quality time spent with their parents. However, when it came to overall health and the strength of the relationship they had with their parents, kids raised by gay parents scored higher than the national average..
What a surprise, right? Wrong. This study may be the largest, but it’s by no means the first of its kind. Way back in 2009, professor Stephen Scott, director of research at The National Academy of Parenting Practitioners explained that the data they’d collected showed that children raised by two moms went on “to do better in life.” And a year later, the 24-year-long USA National Longitudinal Study released its findings that zero percent of families with lesbian parents reported incidents of physical and sexual abuse. Granted, the sample size was small, but zero is still a good percentage when it comes to abuse!
It’s not the first study to show that children aren’t going to be traumatized by the simple fact of having same-sex parents, either. A few months ago the very reputable American Academy of Pediatrics released a paper that draws on 30 years of research to conclude, among other things, that “many studies have demonstrated that children’s well-being is affected much more by their relationships with their parents, their parents’ sense of competence and security, and the presence of social and economic support for the family than by the gender or the sexual orientation of their parents.” Exactly. If traditional marriage supporters were really so concerned about the well-being of children, they’d focus instead on things like how poverty and race and class affect children’s access to health insurance, good education, and nutrition; but nope, they’d prefer to preach the danger and dissolution of America caused by Heather’s Two Mommies.
The Australian Study of Child Health and ones like it are important because although their findings can seem obvious to us, there can never be enough scientific studies and reports released when in many states second-parent adoption is still illegal and there are even states like Florida that completely ban same-sex partners from adopting. Just last week in Louisiana, a bill passed which ensures that all gay and unmarried couples will not be able to use surrogacy when starting a family. Studies concerning the fitness of same-sex parents and life outcomes for their children have become major talking points in the courts; during the Prop 8 trial, questions about whether children really needed “a mother and a father” abounded. Whether or not it’s true, conservatives love to argue that none of the research supporting gay families as healthy families is viable, so it’s hugely important that this study was so large; it makes its results much harder to argue with. The more viable research we have on our side, the harder it is for homophobes to claim that they’re just doing what they think is best; when experts have debunked that theory, they’re left with admitting that they’re acting out of bigotry. With all the pressure put on lawmakers by traditional marriage supporters and homophobes, it’s important that reputable organizations continue to conduct well-researched and scientific studies that show, for however long is necessary, that in same-sex families, the kids are alright.