Decades of research and studies consistently show that same-sex parenting stands to benefit children in a number of ways.
After a decades long fight, the 2015 Supreme Court ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges declared marriage, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, a constitutional right once and for all. Fomenting a considerable rise in same-sex marriages around the United States, the historic ruling marked a landmark victory for the LGBTQ community.
This overdue recognition, however, also brought to light persistent discriminatory beliefs that surround other aspects of queer domestic life. Queer parenting — whether by adoption or natural birth — remains a topic of much discussion, politicized by conservatives and colored by widespread misconceptions.
Thankfully, the data is here: queer parents aren’t so different from their heterosexual counterparts — and where they do diverge, the children of LGBTQ parents are actually better off.
The Facts About LGBT Parents
While studies about queer parenting are still new, most research indicates that there is no difference in outcomes between the children of LGBT parents and the children of heterosexual parents. Studies have found that the children of same-gendered parents are no more prone to psychiatric disorders and are equally likely to excel in school both academically and socially.
And where there are discrepancies, the findings indicate that the children of LGBT parents may in fact be better off. One noted difference? The children of queer parents have been found to have more flexible attitudes toward gender roles, both in regard to the division of labor within the home and the careers to which they’re drawn.
Indeed, outliers in the data that suggest negative differences have been routinely debunked. Largely funded by organizations with known anti-LGBTQ agendas, these “studies” have not been focused on standard, healthy, two-parent families, but instead highlight queer families undergoing divorce or other familial trauma — circumstances known to predict negative outcomes for children regardless of parental identities.
One contentious piece of the queer parenting debate that remains is the question of whether gay parents are more likely to raise a gay child — and there is some evidence to suggest that a correlation exists. It’s impossible to know this conclusively, however, as the children of gay parents may simply be more comfortable expressing their LGBTQ identity than their counterparts who were raised in heteronormative environments. And if your first thought was that such a correlation is a negative thing, check your internalized homophobia.
The Next Generation
Children of LGBT parents end up reaping the benefits of their upbringing later in life, too. Ultimately, they grow up to have more diverse and queer-friendly social circles, and are more likely to be working in fields like social justice. Both of these traits indicate that children of queer parents are more accepting and empathetic.
For anyone who has an interest in this area of research, it’s helpful to remember that good parenting is influenced most profoundly by a parent’s ability to create a loving and nurturing home — an ability that does not depend on sexual orientation or gender identity.