Results from a recent study suggests that children raised by same-sex parents fare just as well as, if not better than, children raised by heterosexual couples.
The study — the largest of its kind — was conducted by University of Melbourne researchers and followed 315 same-sex couples, primarily lesbians, and their 500 children, comparing their wellbeing to that of the general Australian population. According to the study’s lead researcher, Simon Crouchfound, “children from same-sex families scored, on average, 6% better on two key measures, general health and family cohesion, even when controlling for a number sociodemographic factors such as parent education and household income. But on most health measures, including emotional behaviour and physical functioning, there was no difference when compared with children from the general population.”
To me, this is a ‘no-brainer’. First and foremost, children raised in any environment of love and stability are more than likely going to thrive physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I teach ‘at-risk’ populations of high school students and having one, let alone two, loving and committed parents is unfortunately very hard to find. These students experience myriad challenges, from homelessness and poverty, to drug use and prostitution.
There is one student in particular who comes to mind. He grew up in the foster care system and bounced from family to family. Due to his constantly changing environments, he experienced many difficulties throughout every aspect of his life. The turning point for him? When he was adopted by a gay male couple who finally provided him the safety and stability he had been severely lacking. He graduated this past spring. Their desire to become parents was the deciding factor in this young man’s life.
I do not believe that homosexual people are innately better at parenting than heterosexual individuals. However, the fact that same-sex couples are unable to reproduce on their own sets them apart — in more ways beyond the biological.
I have heard many times that the best thing about gay or lesbian sex is the lack of ‘mistakes’, ‘surprises’ or ‘accidents’ that can result. For many, this is a sigh of relief; but for others, a frustration beyond compare. To me, creating a life with your partner seems like an incredibly romantic idea because no matter how hard we try, my partner and I will never be able to create a life between just the two of us.
Being unable to create a life unassisted is the reality for all same-sex couples. Because of this, same-sex couples must plan and work in order to become parents. From in-vitro fertilization to adoption or surrogacy, there are no unplanned pregnancies for same sex couples.
Perspective is powerful. I have had heterosexual friends create a life that they considered to be a mistake and admittedly did not want to bring into the world; but they did. These individuals have admitted that there were not ready or wanting to become a parent. They had no desire.
Conversely, every same-sex couple I know that has started a family experienced months to years of discussing options, ‘trying’ to get pregnant via insemination or IVF, or experiencing multiple home visits and interviews from adoption and/or foster care agencies.No matter the obstacles and disappointments they faced, their desire to become parents overcame their frustrations.
I believe that any parent with the desire to raise and love a child will produce the safest and warmest environment for that growing life. It has been my experience, from living within a Queer environment, that no same-sex couples have taken being a parent for granted. Rather, the lack of natural ability seems to have fueled the desire to become a parent.
This study affirms what I’ve long believed: that nurture — not nature — is the defining characteristic of successful parenting. Regardless of one’s sexual orientation.
About the author: Mia Furtado is originally from the Bay Area in California but currently resides in Denver, Colorado. When Mia is not teaching high school special education, she spends her time reading, writing or involving herself in anything causing a ruckus.