Children of same-sex parents doing well

One of the many objections given by opponents of same –sex marriage is that children need a mother and a father and that the children of gay parents will suffer from psychological harm. This argument was never properly substantiated and in court case after court case judges have rejected the claim.

Now a new Australian study looks at the largest sample of same-sex children and finds that they are in fact doing better than children in the population as a whole.

315 parents completed the survey (completion rate = 81%) representing 500 children. 80% of children had a female index parent while 18% had a male index parent. Children in same-sex parent families had higher scores on measures of general behavior, general health and family cohesion compared to population normative data… There were no significant differences between the two groups for all other scale scores.

But perceived stigma had negative correlations physical activity, mental health, and family cohesion. So any problems that the children of same-sex parents had was due to the negative attitudes of society at large creating a stigma

At the same time, two-thirds of the parents reported a perceived stigma on at least one issue tracked by the survey. These stigmas ranged from other people gossiping about an LGBT family to same-sex parents feeling excluded at social gatherings due to their sexual orientation.

Perceived stigmas were associated with worse scores for physical activity, mental health, family cohesion, and emotional outcomes. The stigmas, however, were not prevalent enough to negatively tilt the children’s outcomes in a comparison to outcomes across the general population.

So those who are vociferously opposing same-sex marriage supposedly on behalf of the children are the ones causing them harm.


  1. Seth says

    This result is completely unsurprising; same-sex parents can almost only ever get that way by wanting children and demonstrating the consistent ability and potential to provide them with adequate material and emotional support. Therefore almost every same-sex-parented child is loved and wanted and in a situation with the resources to grow up in a stable environment.

    Contrast this with heterosexual-parented-children, who (owing to decades of vociferous anti-choice propaganda, among other things) often have children that they did not want in the first place and cannot adequately support. and it’s hardly a mystery why the same-sex-parented kids are slightly better adjusted. I’d be interested to see if the study’s authors controlled for this factor. They could compare the same-sex-parented population against the (heterosexual) early-infant-adoption population to see if similar outcomes obtain. I suspect the divergence would be significantly reduced, if so.

  2. Seth says

    Of course, by heterosexual-parented-children, I meant ‘heterosexual parents’…though almost all of them would have had heterosexual parents (or at least opposite-sex parents) themselves, so the convoluted comment can still stand on its own. 😉

  3. Mano Singham says


    I think you are right but the point is that opponents of same-sex marriage think that having same-sex parents has such negative effects that it overwhelms all other factors. This study counters that.

  4. Seth says

    Oh, I agree, and I’m glad the point is being made; the fact that the only thing maladaptive about same-sex-led families is the social pressure founded in animus toward those families is essential to deconstructing that animus. I just think such work should be tempered with reasonable causative hypotheses.

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