The research is in: gay parents know how to raise children

Until recently there has been relatively little research that combats or supports the common conservative argument that gay couples are unfit foster parents. As reported in a recent New York Times article, the studies on gay parents are finally coming in, proving what half of the nation already suspected: gay parents provide the same quality of upbringing as their straight counterparts, with a few improvements.

The findings are reported in Abbie E. Goldberg's new book, Lesbian and Gay Parents and Their Children, which analysis more than 100 academic studies on the subject.

In most ways, the accumulated research shows, children of same-sex parents are not markedly different from those of heterosexual parents. They show no increased incidence of psychiatric disorders, are just as popular at school and have just as many friends. While girls raised by lesbian mothers seem slightly more likely to have more sexual partners, and boys slightly more likely to have fewer, than those raised by heterosexual mothers, neither sex is more likely to suffer from gender confusion nor to identify themselves as gay.

More enlightening than the similarities, however, are the differences, the most striking of which is that these children tend to be less conventional and more flexible when it comes to gender roles and assumptions than those raised in more traditional families.

There are data that show, for instance, that daughters of lesbian mothers are more likely to aspire to professions that are traditionally considered male, like doctors or lawyers — 52 percent in one study said that was their goal, compared with 21 percent of daughters of heterosexual mothers, who are still more likely to say they want to be nurses or teachers when they grow up.

Considering conservatives' aversion to scientific findings that contradict religious doctrine, it’s doubtful that this research will change any minds on the far right. However, this shouldn’t stop gay activists from using these studies to argue for same-sex partnerships.

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