The myth of mixed-gender parent superiority

Posted in Gay rights, Politics at 12:56 pm by ducky

Our Loyal Opposition in the marriage equality fight likes to yammer about how research shows that children do better when they are raised by both of their biological parents.  This is utter hogwash.

The Loyal Opposition uses studies that show that children raised by both of their biological parents do better than those raised by a single parent.  Studies comparing kids raised by a mixed-gender couple compared to those raised by a same-gender couple shows absolutely no difference on many many measures of success and well-being — delinquency, dropout rate, alcoholism, teen pregnancy, drug abuse, etc.  By contrast, the difference between kids of two-parent families was absolutely huge compared to kids from single-parent families on all of the measures of success and well-being.

My source for the research on family structure effect on children’s well-being is an extensive longitudinal literature review that the Santa Clara County Social Services Agency did in 1996, a time when you would think society just might have made life even more difficult for gay and lesbian parents.

The only measure where there was any difference was a very very slight (but statistically significant) difference in sexual experimentation: children of gay/lesbian parents were no more likely to be gay/lesbian themselves, but they were very slightly more likely to experiment with homosexuality a few times.

While I am not familiar with any research on biological vs. non-biological two-parent families, it isn’t relevant.  If there is a kid who needs adoption, their adoptive family won’t be their biological family, regardless of whether they get placed with a straight or homosexual couple.

I don’t know of any research that suggests that children of parents who used donated eggs or sperm are less happy than biological children.  I suppose it could be true, but if it is, The Loyal Opposition should oppose infertility treatments of all kinds.  Somehow I expect they wouldn’t take on that fight.

I know some people who think that gay and lesbian couples shouldn’t adopt because their children would face discrimination.  By that logic, we shouldn’t allow black people to have children in the US; we shouldn’t allow Christians to have children in China.

Even if there were some difference between parenting by gay and lesbian couples and straight couples, that still isn’t an adequate reason to try and block their child-rearing.  That’s a false comparison.  The real comparison that you need to make is between children in foster care and those that get adopted.  I suspect that adopted kids do far better than those that remain in foster care, and there is a surplus of kids to adopt.

While it is true that it is difficult to find healthy white babies to adopt, sadly, there are lots of non-white, non-healthy babies available.  When my husband and I were going through foster parent training, Santa Clara County had seven times as many foster children as they had foster homes.  SEVEN TIMES.  (And you can be sure not every foster home took seven children!)

We should celebrate and encourage gay and lesbian adoption, not hinder it!

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  1. Best Webfoot Forward » Marriage equality a threat to men’s self-image? said,

    November 26, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    […] (By the way, children do just fine with same-gender parents.) […]

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