Gay families include gay or lesbian partners who may have adopted children, conceived through donor insemination, or are raising their children from a previous heterosexual relationship. Children raised in gay and lesbian families commonly have ongoing contact with their nonresident parents (Berger, 2001). For example, in a longitudinal British study of lesbian households, children raised by lesbian mothers had more postseparation contact with their fathers than did children raised by heterosexual mothers (Tasker & Golombok, 1997). In addition, children often viewed their mother’s female partner as an added member of their family constellation rather than as a competitor to their fathers. In contrast, children raised by single-parent or divorced heterosexual mothers often resisted their mothers’ new male partners becoming father figures, especially if their biological fathers were still in contact with them (Golombok, MacCallum, Goodman, & Rutter, 2002; Hare & Richards, 1993).
Overall, the picture emerging from over two decades of research on children raised in lesbian and gay families confirms that the sexual orientation of parents is not a factor in child outcomes. For example, no differences have been found in children raised by lesbian mothers or gay fathers on measures of psychological adjustment compared to children raised by heterosexual parents (Stacey & Bilbarz, 2001; Stacey & Davenport, 2002; see also Golombok & Tasker, 1996). How children in lesbian-mother families feel about their mothers’ relationships and their family identities also does not differ from children raised by heterosexual mothers (Tasker & Golombok, 1997).
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