Do heterosexual parents do a better job of raising kids than same-sex parents?


Fact Box

  • Approximately 200,000 children in the United States are being raised by same-sex couples. 
  • Compared to heterosexual couples’ children, the children raised by same-sex couples are much more likely to have been adopted or are from the foster care system.
  • According to a 2014 Gallup poll, 63% of those surveyed said that gay couples should have the legal right to adopt a child, while only 55% supported same-sex marriage. 
  • A poll from the National Survey of Children’s Health found that same-sex parent households had higher “parenting stress” than heterosexual parent households.

Bre (No)

Despite unfounded concerns based on ill-informed stereotypes, there’s simply no link to children being worse off due to having same-sex parents. Claims ranging from disrupting the child’s psychological development, confusion over gender roles, an increased likelihood of homosexuality in the child, to the possibility of sexual abuse have all continuously been unsupported by research--namely, multiple studies with a range of measures for well-being. Everything from social, psychological, and cognitive development to academic performance and risks of substance abuse or sexual activity at an early age were all found to have no significant effect. If differences were present in children of straight couples compared to gay couples, they most often pointed to variances in socioeconomic status or stability within the family, not linked to the orientation of their parents. Children of same-sex parents simply do not fare any worse than children of heterosexual parents.

Not only do kids raised by same-sex couples show no disadvantages, but some have also spoken out regarding how their having homosexual parents has made favorable impacts on their personal development. One British study involving teens raised by lesbian couples noted some inherent advantages of being parented by them: positive influences on moral development, improved understanding and awareness of prejudice, and increased acceptance levels for homosexuality and diversity. Thus, to have a more rounded perspective from an inclusive family dynamic can potentially result in a morally benefited child, which is far from a disadvantage.

Jasmine (Yes)

In the unfortunate light of societal stigmas and job opportunity discrepancies, same-sex parents face enormous challenges that can impact their children's behavioral, social, and educational growth. 

The New Family Structures Study compared results between adults who had same-sex parents with those who had heterosexual, still-married parents. It revealed that those with gay or lesbian parents had fared worse on educational, social, and health parameters. 

Gays and lesbians are routinely subject to discrimination in the workplace, specifically in terms of getting jobs, not being paid equally, and not being promoted at the same rate as heterosexuals. Several states do not provide legal protection for LGBT staff. The repercussions of this can lead to financial stress in the household, which, in turn, can create challenges in meeting a child's needs. 

A recent report detailed how many primary and secondary schools do not include an educational curriculum that imparts sexual orientation sensitivity. Another study revealed that some children with gay parents express their dislike of how the word 'gay' is linked to insults made by other students. Further, teachers don't necessarily address anti-gay language as they would address racist language. These factors can influence the kids of same-sex parents and make them subject to severe bullying, which can negatively impact academic performance.

Many parents are not open about their sexual orientation for fear of discrimination, employment loss, loss of child custody, and anti-gay violence. Similarly, their kids face fears of being bullied. In societies where heterosexuality is the norm, this burden of cloaking identities every day can wreak psychological havoc for all.

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