Lesbian parents raise happy, healthy children according to 22 year study
The longest-running study into lesbian parents in the United States has found that discrimination and not the sexual orientation of their parents harms children.
Two new reports from The USA National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS), published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry and Journal of Lesbian Studies.
The NLLFS is the longest-running study ever conducted on American lesbian and gay families.
It has been following planned lesbian families with children conceived by donor insemination since 1986.
The results released today are based on interviews that were conducted when the children were 10 years old.
The NLLFS confirms the findings of over 40 other studies on the children of lesbian and gay parents, and supports the positions of all major professional associations on the well-being of children growing up in lesbian and gay families.
The NLLFS finds that although the parents’ sexual orientation doesn’t harm children, discrimination does; the researchers report that the adverse effects of discrimination were significantly reduced when the parents, schools and communities encouraged an appreciation of diversity.
“The findings of our research conclude that children raised in lesbian parent households are healthy, happy, and high-functioning,” said Dr. Nanette Gartrell.
“The parents created healthy, loving and safe environments where their children were able to grow and thrive. Even the negative effects of homophobia were largely mitigated when their parents were active participants in the lesbian community and when the children attended schools that taught an appreciation of diversity.”
The NLLFS examines the social, psychological, and emotional development of the children as well as the dynamics of alternative families and children of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) parents.
Dr. Gartrell’s co-investigator, Henny Bos, Ph.D., University of Amsterdam, is the principal investigator of a Dutch longitudinal study modeled after the NLLFS.
The Dutch comparative study examined parenting experiences, couple relationships, social supports, childrearing goals, and child adjustment in 100 lesbian-led, two-parent families and 100 heterosexual, two-parent families. The Dutch study is also documenting homophobia in planned lesbian families.
The efficacy of lesbian parents was in the spotlight in the UK earlier this year when Parliament debated the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.
It passed earlier this year and enables both members of the same-sex couple to be recognised as the legal parents of a child born to them following assisted reproduction.
It also removed the need the responsibility entrusted to IVF clinics to consider the need for a father from legislation and replaced it with “supportive parenting.”
In May former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith proposed an amendment to retain the requirement for doctors to consider the need for a father.
He presented a battery of statistics relating to children without fathers, presumably the result of heterosexual liaisons.
“Research that we published recently, which was drawn from more than 3,000 evidence sessions, showed that the effect on those broken families is remarkable,” he told MPs.
“75 per cent. of the children are more likely to fail at school, 70 per cent. are more likely to succumb to drug addiction, 50 per cent. are more likely to have serious alcohol problems, and 35 per cent. are more likely to experience some form of unemployment or welfare dependency.”
Labour MP Emily Thornberry meanwhile stood up for gay and lesbian parents.
“In my experience, based on the lesbian mothers whom I know, before they make the very serious decision to have children in what is not, in all circumstances, the most liberal of worlds, they look to the welfare of the child and to how they can best bring that child up,” she told MPs in
“They do not need a doctor who is not trained in and has no particular experience of these matters to give them counselling on what sort of father figure they should seek, how long that father figure should be involved in their lives, and exactly what “father figure” means in what circumstances.
“It is not for a doctor to make that sort of decision.
“We should trust the good sense of parents—of women—who do not need to be patronised by anyone, or told how they should bring up children.
“Motherhood is a serious matter, as is fatherhood, and we should allow parents to make serious decisions themselves.”
The Adoption and Children Act, which came into force in December 2005, gave gay couples and unmarried straight couples the right to jointly adopt children.