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Study: Children of same-sex parents healthier, happier

By Brett Wilkins     Jul 9, 2014 in Lifestyle
Melbourne - Children of same-sex parents enjoy above-average health and happiness, according to the newly-published results of an Australian study.
CNBC reports researchers from the Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program, Centre for Health Equity, at the University of Melbourne analyzed data from the Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families, which involved 315 same-sex couples and 500 children. Of the families participating in the study (full text here), 80 percent had female parents, while 18 percent had male parents.
"It appears that same-sex parent families get along well and this has a positive impact on health," said researcher Dr. Simon Crouch. "We know that same-sex attracted parents are more likely to share child care and work responsibilities more equitably than heterosexual parent families, based more on skills rather than on gender roles. This appears to be contributing to a more harmonious household and having a positive impact on child health."
The study found that children of same-sex parents scored about six percent higher on measures of general health and family cohesion than children in the general population. Children in same-sex families scored about the same as other children in temperament and mood, behavior, mental health emotional role and self-esteem.
The researchers did find that many children in same-sex families experience stigma due to their parents' sexual orientation. This stigma can affect their future mental and emotional well-being.
"Stigma can be subtle, such as letters home from school addressed to Mr. and Mrs.," said Crouch. "Or it can be overt and very harmful, in the form of bullying and abuse at school," he added. "What we have found is that the more stigma these families experience the greater the impact on the social and emotional well-being of children."
Same-sex parenting is a hot topic Down Under. Earlier this year, Sen. Cory Bernardi of the center-right Liberal Party raised eyebrows when he opined that the "gold standard" for child development was having a biological mother and father who are married.
"It's often suggested that children with same-sex parents have poorer outcomes because they're missing a parent of a particular sex," Crouch told The Conversation. "But [our research] shows this isn't the case."
But earlier research from the University of Texas in the United States found that adults who were raised by lesbian mothers had negative outcomes in 24 of 40 measures of social, emotional and relationship outcomes. Adults raised by gay fathers reported negative outcomes in 19 categories.
"Children appear most apt to succeed well as adults when they spend their entire childhood with their married mother and father, and especially when the parents remain married to the present day," said Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas, the study's lead author.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, 11 percent of gay men and 33 percent of lesbian women in Australia have children.
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