Research on Children of Gay and/or Lesbian Families
Researchers have compared children of homosexual parents to children of heterosexual parents in many areas of personal and social development. There is no evidence in current research that children of gay or lesbian parents or families have any more problems than do children of comparable circumstances in heterosexual families (Patterson, 1992; Golombok, 2003). Both groups fall within normal patterns.
Specifically, there are no significant differences between these two groups of children in sexual identity. This includes gender identity, gender role behavior, and sexual orientation or preference. Gender identity refers to a person's self-identity as male or female. Gender role behavior identifies a person's activities, toys, or occupation as masculine or feminine according to a person's culture. Sexual orientation refers to a person's choice of sexual partners, which could be heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual (Patterson, 1992; Patterson and Chen, 1997). In twelve studies of over 300 children of gays and lesbians, no evidence was found for significant disturbances of any kind in their sexual identity (Patterson, 1992). The fear that these children are more vulnerable to sexual abuse either by their parent or parent's acquaintances is not valid (Finklelhor and Russell, 1984; Jones and McFarrlane, 1980; Sarafino, 1979; Groth and Birnbaum, 1978).
Other areas studied included self-concept, locus of control (meaning internally or externally motivated), development of moral judgment, and intelligence. None of this research showed any significant differences between children of gays and lesbians and children of heterosexual parents (Huggins, 1989; Green, et al., 1986, Patterson, 1992).
Social relationships, both with adults and with their peers, showed no significant differences between the two groups (Patterson, 1992; Golombok, Spencer, and Rutter, 1983; Green, et al., 1986). However, a study on children's social relationships with their noncustodial fathers showed that most children of lesbian mothers had some contact with their fathers while most children with heterosexual mothers had not seen their fathers within the year (Golombok, et al., 1983). In addition, Kirpatrick (1987) found that lesbian mothers and their children interacted with more adult male family friends, including relatives, than did heterosexual single mothers and their children.
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