The idea that same-sex couples raise children and manage households identically to straight parents might seem like something gay parenting advocates would want to preserve, but it simply isn't accurate. And that isn't a negative thing.
Until the early 2000s, research on gay parenting and child development outcomes were largely focused on drawing parallels between LGBT and heterosexual parents as a way to remove sexual orientation as some sort of dangerous ingredient in the complicated stew of child rearing. But, as New York University sociologist Judith Stacey points out, differences don't equate deficiencies in this case [source: Stacey and Biblartz]. Research has highlighted some unique hallmarks of lesbian parenting, including more equal division of chores and childcare and greater parent-child emotional openness [source: Belkin].
Of course, just as not all heterosexual couples make identical decisions and establish uniform household rules, neither do LGBT parents. But since data have clearly demonstrated that kids raised by gay and lesbian parents grow into successful, well-adjusted young adults, parents of all stripes can take away an important lesson: There is more than one road to raising a happy, healthy child.
Author's Note: 5 Gay Parenting Myths
Negative stereotypes about gay and lesbian parenting are beginning to fall by the wayside as the social definition of "family" has broadened beyond the heterosexual nuclear unit. While some moral objections remain, scientific research also has reiterated that children raised by gay or lesbian parents turn out just as healthy and happy as their peers. Maintaining objectivity on politically dicey topics like gay marriage and parenting can be a challenging tightrope to navigate, whereas myth-busting based on data and fact is a much more straightforward endeavor. And though science can't explain away lingering moral or religious anxieties about such non-normative households, it can offer plenty of empirical evidence to debunk stuck-in-the-mud stereotypes, like the preceding Top 5 Gay Parenting Myths.
- Doe v. Pryor. U.S. 02-14899. United States Court of Appeals. United States Courts. Sept. 11, 2003. (April 11, 2012) http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/ops/200214899.pdf
- Belkin, Lisa. "What's Good for the Kids." The New York Times. Nov. 05, 2009. (April 11, 2012) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/08/magazine/08fob-wwln-t.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1333735758-jLAoshXv+QHhwPVVXBgykg
- Biblarz, Timothy J. and Stacey, Judith. "How Does the Gender of Parents Matter?" Journal of Marriage and Family. February 2010. (April 11, 2012) http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/biblarz-stacey.pdf
- Gottleib, Andrew. "Media Reviews." Journal of GLBT Family Studies." Aug. 02, 2010. (April 11, 2012) http://www.choicesconsulting.com/assets/pro_writing/gay-and-lesbian-parents-review.pdfg
- Kix, Paul. "Study: Gay Parents More Likely to Have Gay Kids." AOL News. Oct. 17, 2010. (April 11, 2012) http://www.aolnews.com/2010/10/17/study-gay-parents-more-likely-to-have-gay-kids/
- MediaMatters. "Tony Perkins' fearmongering about same-sex parenting is refuted by medical consensus." Aug. 08, 2010. (April 11, 2012)
- National Center for Fathering. "The Extent of Fatherlessness." (April 11, 2012) http://www.fathers.com/content/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=336
- Pappas, Stephanie. "Gay Parents Better Than Straight Parents? What Research Says." LiveScience. Huffington Post Science. Jan. 16, 2012. (April 11, 2012) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/16/gay-parents-better-than-straights_n_1208659.html
- Park, Alice. "Study: Children of Lesbians May Do Better Than Their Peers." TIME. June 07, 2010. (April 06, 2012) http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1994480,00.html
- Patterson, Charlotte J. "Children of Lesbian and Gay Parents: Psychology, Law and Policy." American Psychologist. November 2009. (April 11, 2012) http://people.virginia.edu/~cjp/articles/p09b.pdf
- Perrin, Ellen C. "Technical Report: Coparent or Second-Parent Adoption by Same-Sex Parents." Pediatrics. February 2002. (April 11, 2012) http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/109/2/341.abstract?fulltext=&searchid=QID_NOT_SET
- Schumm, WR. "Children of homosexual more apt to be homosexuals? A reply to Morrison and to Cameron based on an examination of multiple sources of data." Journal of Biosocial Science. November 2010. (April 11, 2012) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20642872
Dunbar's number predicts how many relationships people can maintain. HowStuffWorks adds up friendship by the numbers.