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Study Finds Gay and Lesbian Parents Just as Good as Heterosexual Parents

Study Finds Gay and Lesbian Parents Just as Good as Heterosexual Parents

Michael Rosenfeld conducted a study that regards the impact of LGBT parents on their school-age children and whether or not their roles in the family structure decide the fate of their marks in the classroom. The entire study can be read in Demography. 

I use U.S. census data to perform the first large-sample, nationally representative tests of outcomes for children raised by same-sex couples. The results show that children of same-sex couples are as likely to make normal progress through school as the children of most other family structures. Heterosexual married couples are the family type whose children have the lowest rates of grade retention, but the advantage of heterosexual married couples is mostly due to their higher socioeconomic status. Children of all family types (including children of same-sex couples) are far more likely to make normal progress through school than are children living in group quarters (such as orphanages and shelters).  ~Michael J. Rosenfeld, Department of Sociology, Stanford University

Michael Rosenfeld conducted a study that regards the impact of LGBT parents on their school-age children and whether or not their roles in the family structure decide the fate of their marks in the classroom. The entire study can be read in Demography. You may choose to read Rosenfeld’s complete analysis on the family structure and its impact on students here.

For purposes of data sharing and collaborative thought, below are the most striking findings from the August 2010 report by Rosenfeld.

  • In-depth studies of the psychosocial development of children raised by lesbians and gay men has found that these children are normal and well adjusted (Chan, Raboy, and Patterson 1998; Flaks et al. 1995; Golombok et al. 2003).
  • Nearly all children of gay and lesbian parents attend schools and live in neighborhoods in which other children overwhelmingly come from families with heterosexual parents. In other words, children of same-sex couples share a common peer and school environment with children of heterosexual couples. To the extent that peer environment is a primary socializing environment for children.
  • The moral claim for same-sex marriage rests in part on the many practical and psycho- logical benefits of marriage, benefits for which conservative family scholars have made the most careful and enthusiastic case.
  • Both heterosexual cohabiters and same-sex cohabiters are two-parent families living without the rights and benefits of marriage. Certainly, there are differences: for example, heterosexual cohabiting couples can marry if they want to, whereas in the United States at the time of the 2000 census, same-sex couples could not marry.
  • Children of heterosexual married couples had the lowest implied rate of grade retention: 6.8%. Children of lesbian mothers and gay fathers had grade retention rates of 9.5% and 9.7%, respectively. Children of heterosexual cohabiting parents had a grade retention rate of 11.7%, while children of single parents had grade retention rates between 11.1% and 12.6%.
  • Among gay and lesbian couples, those with lower incomes are more likely to be raising children.
  • These results suggest that for the outcome of normal progress through school, children raised by same-sex cohabiting couples are no different, and perhaps slightly advantaged, compared with children raised by heterosexual cohabiting couples. The similarity in school performance between children of same-sex couples and children of heterosexual cohabiting couples fails to support the gender essentialist theories of parenting, which argue that child development depends on having parental role models from both gender groups.

Rosenfeld’s research findings were compiled by data from the 2000 U.S. Census. Included in the study were 3,502 children of same-sex couples who had been living with both parents for at least five years. Of those 3,502 children were 2,030 children living with lesbian mothers and 1,472 children living with gay fathers. He also pulled data from more than 700,000 children in Grades 1–8 from other family types.

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Sarah Toce