Do Children of Same-Sex Parents Really Fare Worse?

Time Magazine 11 June 2012
A large new survey counters the conventional wisdom that kids of lesbian moms and gay dads are no different from children raised in straight families. But a closer look at the data suggests that the new finding needs to be qualified. Adult children of parents who have had same-sex partners sometimes fare measurably worse than adult children from long-term heterosexual married parents. So say the results of a new and sure-to-be-controversial study by Mark Regnerus, a sociologist at the University of Texas at Austin. The study — the New Family Structures Study (NFSS) — is bound to put the cat among the pigeons, because it counters previous research on the well-being of children of gay and lesbian parents, which has found that these kids don’t grow up to be much different from those of married hetero couples and that, in fact, kids of lesbian parents are often better adjusted and emotionally healthier.

The NFSS, in contrast, found that adult children of people who have had same-sex relationships were more than twice as likely as children from intact straight homes to be in therapy “for a problem connected with anxiety, depression, relationships, etc.,” more likely to be on public assistance (but, importantly, also more likely to have been raised with public assistance), less likely to have a full-time job, less likely to have voted in the 2008 elections and tended to have achieved less formal education. “The empirical claim for no differences [between being raised by heterosexual and homosexual parents] has to go,” says Regnerus. These effects appeared to be more marked for people whose mothers had had a same-sex relationship than those whose fathers had. And this was especially true after controlling for such contributing factors as the respondent’s age, gender or race, parental education, perceived wealth, whether they had been bullied and how gay-friendly their state was.

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