Studies show no difference for children raised by same-sex parents

Story and slideshow by KOURTNEY COMPTON

See some of the controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A and religion.

Rob Fuentes’ niece holds up a sign with a broad smile across her face. The sign reads, “I love my gay uncles.” He says, “I can’t wait to adopt a child of our own. We have been wanting one for so long now and I think we can finally do it this next year.” He and his same-sex partner are just starting the process of adopting a child of their own.

There is much controversy surrounding same-sex parenting.  People of all walks of life wonder how the children of gay and lesbian parents will turn out.

Julie Johnson, a Salt Lake mother in a lesbian partnership of 20 years said, “I had two children from my previous marriage, and my partner Margaret brought two into the relationship. We faced a lot struggles, at first, we stayed almost hidden from and out of our children’s extracurricular lives. I would attend my children’s activities and Margaret would attend hers. But, as times progressed and acceptance began to increase this changed. Ultimately, our children were really the ones who opened our eyes to the acceptance. I still remember the day when my daughter came in and said she wanted us both to go stating if we were not proud of her together, she couldn’t be proud of what she was doing.”

Today gay parents are certainly no novelty. Television is full of examples, such as the characters  Mitchell and Cam, parents of an adopted child on “Modern Family.”

Annette Bening’s portrayal of a lesbian mom to two teens in the movie “The Kids are Alright,” garnered her nominations for multiple awards including an Oscar. Hollywood has many examples that have helped set the ideal that same-sex parenting is not unlike straight parenting.

Keith Eckert of Salt Lake City, an adoptive father in a same-sex relationship of 15 years, said, “These are some of my favorite shows, because I feel that finally the rest of the world is getting it. We had to jump through so many legal hoops and circus acts to do what happens many times by accident and mistake for so many others. We love our child and both of us wanted to adopt badly. It is a shame that society will only allow me to be the legal parent of our son. Hopefully someday that will change. But these shows open our world up to the rest and say, hey, we go through the same things you do, and it’s hard at times, and it is fun, and challenging, and full of love, just like your family.”

However, there are those who feel differently. In January 2012, then-presidential hopeful Rick Santorum suggested that it was better for a child to be raised by a societal “normal” family and better for the child to have a straight dad in prison than two gay dads raising them.

Pope Benedict has come forward and said that the need for children to live in a heterosexual home is the key to preserving humanity. In November 2011, The Huffington Post reported that Catholic charities had quit the business of adoption completely in Illinois rather than agree to not discriminate against same-sex gay and lesbian parents.

However, numerous studies have shown that children reared by same-sex parents are well adjusted.

A study published in the American Sociological Review in 2001 found that while there appeared to be some differences in outcomes between children in same-sex and heterosexual households, they were minor and not nearly what family scholars would have expected.

In 2007 a second study was published in the Journal of GLBT Family Studies. Researchers conducted a combined analysis of developmental outcomes for children of same-sex and heterosexual parents found that there were no differences in the raising of the child by same-sex parents and in fact they fared equally well in both environments.

In 2010 the Williams institute released a study suggesting that same-sex parents now appear to be more stable and competent than heterosexual ones. The study listed many deficits in societal norm heterosexual relations, such as defined roles of parents, sexual abuse of the child, and parent’s lack of desire for the child in their life as part of the reasons. The study finds that these negative aspects are all but nonexistent in a same sex parenting family.

This study asserted that “non-heterosexual parents, on average, enjoy significantly better relationships with their children than do heterosexual ones, and the kids in same-sex families exhibited no differences in the domains of cognitive development, psychological adjustment and gender identity.”

Based strictly on this published science, two women parent better on average than a woman and a man. Lesbian co-parents seem to outperform comparable married heterosexual, biological parents on several measures, even while being denied the substantial privileges of marriage.

The overall academic discourse surrounding gay and lesbian parents’ comparative competence has swung — from the wide acknowledgement of challenges to “no differences” to more capable than traditional heterosexual parenting families.

This is old news to psychologists, who in fact have considered the issue settled since 2005 when the APA had issued a brief on Lesbian and Gay parenting in which it asserted, “Not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents.”

Dawn Appleburg, of Seattle, was adopted by one partner in a lesbian relationship when she was 8. “At times it was difficult. I would get asked all sorts of questions that I didn’t feel other children had to deal with. Even at times asked if I had any interest in boys at all or if I would be just like my mom’s and only like other women. Well, my three beautiful children and my husband I guess can answer that.”

Appleburg added, “I am as normal as it comes. I am a Christian, a wife, a mother, and an advocate of equality for everyone. My moms instilled the acceptance of all people in me. I wish others had the same level of love for everyone that they do, and my kids can’t wait to see their grannies every time we go and visit.”