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LGBT parenting occurs when lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people are parents to one or more children, either as biological or non-biological parents. Gay men face options that include "foster care, variations of domestic and international adoption, diverse forms of surrogacy (whether "traditional" or gestational), and kinship arrangements, wherein they might coparent with a woman or women with whom they are intimately but not sexually involved."[1] LGBT parents can also include single people who are parenting; to a lesser extent, the term sometimes refers to families with LGBT children.

In the 2000 U.S. Census, 33 percent of female same-sex couple households and 22 percent of male same-sex couple households reported at least one child under eighteen living in their home.[2] Some children do not know they have an LGB parent; coming out issues vary and some parents may never come out to their children.[3][4] LGBT parenting in general, and adoption by LGBT couples in particular, are issues of ongoing political controversy in many Western countries, often seen as part of culture wars between conservatives and social liberals. In January 2008, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that same-sex couples have the right to adopt a child.[5][6] In the U.S., LGB people can legally adopt in all states except for Florida.[7]

Scientific research has shown that lesbian and gay parents are as fit and capable as heterosexual parents.[8][9][10] Research has documented that there is no relationship between parents' sexual orientation and any measure of a child's emotional, psychosocial, and behavioral adjustment.[8][9][10][11] American Psychological Association also states that "the results of some studies suggest that lesbian mothers' and gay fathers' parenting skills may be superior to those of matched heterosexual parents." [12] The literature indicates that parents’ financial, psychological and physical well-being is enhanced by marriage and that children benefit from being raised by two parents within a legally-recognized union.[8][9][11]

Contents

Forms of LGBT parenting

Many LGBT people are parents through various means including current or former relationships, adoption, donor insemination, and surrogacy; LGBT people are eligible to act as foster caregivers in some countries (such as the UK). A lesbian or gay man may have children within a mixed-orientation marriage either because of a fear of discrimination, to manage ego-dystonic sexual orientation, affection or love,[13] desire for family,[14] or spiritual reasons.[15][16][17][18][19] Also, some children do not know they have an LGBT parent.[20] [21]

Controversy

LGBT parenting in general (and adoption by LGBT couples in particular) is an issue of ongoing political controversy in many Western countries and is often seen as a part of culture wars between religious and social conservatives which oppose LGBT adoptions and social liberals.[citation needed] In January 2008, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that same-sex couples have the right to adopt a child.[22][23] In the U.S., in all states except for Florida, is allowed for LGBT unmarried adult individuals to petition to adopt a child. Granting the petiton is up to the decision of the judge. [24]

Opponents of same-sex parenting argue that children are best served when reared in a home with a married mother and father and that the duel gender household provides benefits for children that cannot be replicated in either a single parent or same-sex household. [25] Other opponents cite objections on grounds of morality, religion or tradition.[citation needed]

Demographics

Many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are parents. In the 2000 U.S. Census, for example, 33 percent of female same-sex couple households and 22 percent of male same-sex couple households reported at least one child under the age of 18 living in the home.[2] As of 2005, an estimated 270,313 children in the United States live in households headed by same-sex couples.[26]

Parenting practices and children’s outcomes

Male same-sex couple with child.

The American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association and National Association of Social Workers stated in an Amicus curiae brief presented to the Supreme Court of the State of California in 2006:

When comparing the outcomes of different forms of parenting, it is critically important to make appropriate comparisons. For example, differences resulting from the number of parents in a household cannot be attributed to the parents’ gender or sexual orientation. Research in households with heterosexual parents generally indicates that – all else being equal – children do better with two parenting figures rather than just one. The specific research studies typically cited in this regard do not address parents’ sexual orientation, however, and therefore do not permit any conclusions to be drawn about the consequences of having heterosexual versus nonheterosexual parents, or two parents who are of the same versus different genders. Indeed, the scientific research that has directly compared outcomes for children with gay and lesbian parents with outcomes for children with heterosexual parents has been remarkably consistent in showing that lesbian and gay parents are every bit as fit and capable as heterosexual parents, and their children are as psychologically healthy and well-adjusted as children reared by heterosexual parents. Amici emphasize that the abilities of gay and lesbian persons as parents and the positive outcomes for their children are not areas where credible scientific researchers disagree. Statements by the leading associations of experts in this area reflect professional consensus that children raised by lesbian or gay parents do not differ in any important respects from those raised by heterosexual parents. No credible empirical research suggests otherwise. Allowing same-sex couples to legally marry will not have any detrimental effect on children raised in heterosexual households, but it will benefit children being raised by same-sex couples.[27]

The American Academy of Pediatrics stated in Pediatrics in 2006:

"More than 25 years of research have documented that there is no relationship between parents' sexual orientation and any measure of a child's emotional, psychosocial, and behavioral adjustment. These data have demonstrated no risk to children as a result of growing up in a family with 1 or more gay parents. Conscientious and nurturing adults, whether they are men or women, heterosexual or homosexual, can be excellent parents. The rights, benefits, and protections of civil marriage can further strengthen these families."[11]

The Canadian Psychological Association stated in 2004 and 2006:

Beliefs that gay and lesbian adults are not fit parents, or that the psychosocial development of the children of gay and lesbian parents is compromised, have no basis in science. Our position is based on a review representing approximately 50 empirical studies and at least another 50 articles and book chapters and does not rest on the results of any one study.[28] A review of the psychological research into the well-being of children raised by same-sex and opposite-sex parents continues to indicate that there are no reliable differences in their mental health or social adjustment and that lesbian mothers and gay fathers are not less fit as parents than are their heterosexual counterparts. The CPA recognizes and appreciates that persons and institutions are entitled to their opinions and positions on this issue. However, CPA is concerned that some are mis-interpreting the findings of psychological research to support their positions, when their positions are more accurately based on other systems of belief or values.[29]

Gregory M. Herek noted in The American Psychologist in 2006:

Despite considerable variation in the quality of their samples, research design, measurement methods, and data analysis techniques, the findings to date have been remarkably consistent. Empirical research to date has consistently failed to find linkages between children’s well-being and the sexual orientation of their parents. If gay, lesbian, or bisexual parents were inherently less capable than otherwise comparable heterosexual parents, their children would evidence problems regardless of the type of sample. This pattern clearly has not been observed. Given the consistent failures in this research literature to disprove the null hypothesis, the burden of empirical proof is on those who argue that the children of sexual minority parents fare worse than the children of heterosexual parents.[30]

A literature review prepared for the Australian Psychological Society noted in 2007:

The family studies literature indicates that it is family processes (such as the quality of parenting and relationships within the family) that contribute to determining children’s wellbeing and ‘outcomes’, rather than family structures, per se, such as the number, gender, sexuality and co-habitation status of parents. The research indicates that parenting practices and children’s outcomes in families parented by lesbian and gay parents are likely to be at least as favourable as those in families of heterosexual parents, despite the reality that considerable legal discrimination and inequity remain significant challenges for these families.[10]

No research supports the widely held conviction that the gender of parents matters for child well-being.[31]

Professor Judith Stacey, of New York University, noted: “Rarely is there as much consensus in any area of social science as in the case of gay parenting, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics and all of the major professional organizations with expertise in child welfare have issued reports and resolutions in support of gay and lesbian parental rights”.[32] These organizations include the American Academy of Pediatrics,[11] the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,[33] the American Psychiatric Association,[34] the American Psychological Association [35], the American Psychoanalytic Association [36], the National Association of Social Workers,[27] the Child Welfare League of America,[37] the North American Council on Adoptable Children,[38] and Canadian Psychological Association (CPA). CPA is concerned that some persons and institutions are mis-interpreting the findings of psychological research to support their positions, when their positions are more accurately based on other systems of belief or values.[39]

Dr. Stephen Hicks of the University of Salford[40] questions the value of trying to establish that lesbian or gay parents are defective or suitable, arguing such positions are flawed because they are informed by ideologies that either oppose or support such families.[41] In Hicks' view, "Instead of asking whether gay parenting is bad for kids, I think we should ask how contemporary discourses of sexuality maintain the very idea that lesbian and gay families are essentially different and, indeed, deficient. But, in order to ask this, I think that we need a wider range of research into lesbian and gay parenting... More work of this sort will help us to ask more complex questions about forms of parenting that continue to offer some novel and challenging approaches to family life." [41]

Research that has uncovered interesting differences in child outcomes indirectly connected with having lesbian or gay parents notes that the connections are not causal, and that there are no differences between heterosexual and lesbian or gay families that are of social concern.[42]

Gender role models

Where studies have shown that children raised by lesbian mothers conform to stereotypical gender-role behaviour, researchers have observed more relaxed boundaries in sex-typed play (dolls versus trucks) and in gender-stereotypical career aspirations among such children.[43] The argument that same-sex parents are unsuitable for the same reason that single parenting is not an optimal situation hinges on the assumption that children of single-parent households suffer due to a lack of gender role models, rather than due to a lack of parental care and supervision associated with single parenting.[44] Whether studies on single-parent families necessarily relate to parental gender roles or to the quality of parenting provided by same-sex couples is challenged, such as stated in a 2006 report by the Department of Justice (Canada), that it is "independent of the sexual orientation of parents."[45]

Sexuality of children

According to Gregory Herek

In terms of sexual development, discussions sometimes focus on whether the children of lesbian, gay, or bisexual parents are disproportionately likely to experience same-sex erotic attractions or to identify as gay. The relevance of this question to policy is dubious because homosexuality is neither an illness nor a disability, and the mental health professions do not regard a homosexual or bisexual orientation as harmful, undesirable, or requiring intervention or prevention. More than 30 years ago, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a decision that has been strongly supported by the American Psychological Association (2004). Some theorists have suggested that it would be surprising if no association existed between the sexual orientation of parents and that of their children, but empirical data addressing this question are limited. Although much research has examined the possible influences of genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural variables on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or set of factors. To the extent that data are available, however, they show that the vast majority of children raised by lesbian and gay parents eventually grow up to be heterosexual.[46]

According to Stacey & Biblarz

We know very little yet about how parents influence the development of their children's sexual identities or how these intersect with gender. An important longitudinal British study (Tasker & Golombok, 1997) compared children brought up by lesbian and straight mothers after divorce. On the basis of interviews with the children in young adulthood, the study reported no differences in sexual attractions or identities, but significantly more daughters of lesbians, but not sons, had considered or engaged in homosexuality. The study had a small sample, the confounding effects of divorce, and did not control for number of parents. The newer Dutch study, however, compared a larger sample of preadolescent children raised by planned lesbian and heterosexual couples and reported compatible data (Bos et al., 2006). It found no differences in heterosexual identity scores for sons with two mothers. Daughters of lesbian mothers, however, scored 0.75 SD lower on heterosexual identity than daughters of heterosexual couples. We need comparable data for children reared by single heterosexual mothers or exclusively by men to distinguish the impact of gender from sexual identity here. Did having exclusively female parents or lesbian parents reduce preadolescent daughters' expectations for future heterosexual relationships? The fact that lesbian parenting did not diminish heterosexual desires in sons supports research finding greater fixity in male and fluidity in female sexual desires over the life course (Butler, 2005; Diamond, 2008). The lower heterosexual identity scores of these girls (but not their brothers) might reflect this gender difference.[47]

See also

References

  1. ^ Berkowitz, D & Marsiglio, W (2007). Gay Men: Negotiating Procreative, Father, and Family Identities. Journal of Marriage and Family 69 (May 2007): 366–381
  2. ^ a b APA Policy Statement on Sexual Orientation, Parents & Children, American Psychological Association, July 28 & 30, 2004. Retrieved on 2007-04-06.
  3. ^ Dunne EJ (1987). "Helping gay fathers come out to their children". Journal of Homosexuality 14 (1-2): 213–22. doi:10.1300/J082v14n01_16. PMID 3655343. 
  4. ^ A Family Matter: When a Spouse Comes Out as Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual
  5. ^ EMRK is for the LGBT adoption
  6. ^ Euronews: Gleichgeschlechtliche Adoptiveltern - Gerichtshof rügt Frankreich (german)
  7. ^ "Adoption Laws: State by State". Human Rights Campaign. http://www.hrc.org/issues/parenting/adoptions/2375.htm. Retrieved 2008-07-09. 
  8. ^ a b c Case No. S147999 in the Supreme Court of the State of California, In re Marriage Cases Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding No. 4365, Application for leave to file brief amici curiae in support of the parties challenging the marriage exclusion, and brief amici curiae of the American Psychological Association, California Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, National Association of Social Workers, and National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter in support of the parties challenging the marriage exclusion
  9. ^ a b c Canadian Psychological Association: Marriage of Same-Sex Couples – 2006 Position Statement Canadian Psychological Association
  10. ^ a b c Elizabeth Short, Damien W. Riggs, Amaryll Perlesz, Rhonda Brown, Graeme Kane: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Parented Families - A Literature Review prepared for The Australian Psychological Society
  11. ^ a b c d Pawelski JG, Perrin EC, Foy JM, et al. (July 2006). "The effects of marriage, civil union, and domestic partnership laws on the health and well-being of children". Pediatrics 118 (1): 349–64. doi:10.1542/peds.2006-1279. PMID 16818585. 
  12. ^ http://www.apa.org/about/governance/council/policy/parenting.aspx
  13. ^ Butler, Katy (March 7, 2006). "Many Couples Must Negotiate Terms of 'Brokeback' Marriages". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/07/health/07broke.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin. 
  14. ^ Gay Men from Heterosexual Marriages: Attitudes, Behaviors, Childhood Experiences, and Reasons for Marriage
  15. ^ Gay, Mormon, married
  16. ^ Moore, Carrie A. (March 30, 2007). "Gay LDS men detail challenges". Deseret Morning News. http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,660207378,00.html. 
  17. ^ Bozett, Frederick W. (1987). "The Heterosexually Married Gay and Lesbian Parent". Gay and Lesbian Parents. New York: Praeger. p. 138. ISBN 0275925412. http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=yffzsKWvP6AC&oi=fnd&pg=PA138&ots=8RVKJpMsQh&sig=cV1xTjj9Is2BYObvw7DLb4bd7fw#PPA138,M1. 
  18. ^ Büntzly G (1993). "Gay fathers in straight marriages". Journal of Homosexuality 24 (3-4): 107–14. doi:10.1300/J082v24n03_07. PMID 8505530. 
  19. ^ The Married Lesbian
  20. ^ Dunne EJ (1987). "Helping gay fathers come out to their children". Journal of Homosexuality 14 (1-2): 213–22. doi:10.1300/J082v14n01_16. PMID 3655343. 
  21. ^ A Family Matter: When a Spouse Comes Out as Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual
  22. ^ EMRK is for the LGBT adoption
  23. ^ Euronews: Gleichgeschlechtliche Adoptiveltern - Gerichtshof rügt Frankreich (german)
  24. ^ "Adoption Laws: State by State". Human Rights Campaign. http://www.hrc.org/issues/parenting/adoptions/2375.htm. Retrieved 2008-07-09. 
  25. ^ AD Byrd (2004). Gender Complementarity and Child-Rearing: Where Tradition and Science Agree. Utah Journal of Law & Family Studies, 2004.: [1]
  26. ^ Williams Institute: Census Snapshot - United States
  27. ^ a b Case No. S147999 in the Supreme Court of the State of California, In re Marriage Cases Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding No. 4365, Application for leave to file brief amici curiae in support of the parties challenging the marriage exclusion, and brief amici curiae of the American Psychological Association, California Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, National Association of Social Workers, and National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter in support of the parties challenging the marriage exclusion
  28. ^ Brief presented to the Legislative House of Commons Committee on Bill C38; By the Canadian Psychological Association; June 2, 2005.
  29. ^ Marriage of Same-Sex Couples – 2006 Position Statement Canadian Psychological Association
  30. ^ Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Relationships in the United States by Gregory M. Herek
  31. ^ (How) Does the Sexual Orientation of Parent's Matter?
  32. ^ cited in Cooper & Cates, 2006, p. 36; citation available on http://www.psychology.org.au/Assets/Files/LGBT-Families-Lit-Review.pdf
  33. ^ Children with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents
  34. ^ Adoption and Co-parenting of Children by Same-sex Couples
  35. ^ Sexual Orientation, Parents, & Children
  36. ^ Position Statement on Gay and Lesbian Parenting
  37. ^ Position Statement on Parenting of Children by Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Adults
  38. ^ NACAC Position Statements
  39. ^ Marriage of Same-Sex Couples – 2006 Position Statement Canadian Psychological Association
  40. ^ http://www.imr.salford.ac.uk/social%20work/membership/stephen%20hicks.shtml
  41. ^ a b Hicks, Stephen (2005). "Is Gay Parenting Bad for Kids? Responding to the ‘Very Idea of Difference’ in Research on Lesbian and Gay Parents". Sexualities 8 (2): 165. doi:10.1177/1363460705050852. 
  42. ^ (How) Does the Sexual Orientation of Parent's Matter?
  43. ^ Nanette Gartrell, M.D., Carla Rodas, M.P.H., Amalia Deck, M.S.N. Heidi Peyser, M.A. and Amy Banks, M.D. (2005). "Interviews With Ten-Year-Old Children" (PDF). American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 70 (4). http://www.nllfs.org/publications/pdf/tenyearolds.pdf. 
  44. ^ "Too High A Price: The Case Against Restricting Gay Parenting" (PDF). American Civil Liberties Union. February 7, 2006. http://www.aclu.org/images/asset_upload_file130_27496.pdf. 
  45. ^ Kevin, Bourassa; Joe Varnell (2007-05-09). "Harper shoves family study into the closet". Equal Marriage for Same-sex Couples: Advocacy News (equalmarriage.ca). http://www.samesexmarriage.ca/advocacy/PDH090507.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-30. 
  46. ^ Herek GM (September 2006). "Legal recognition of same-sex relationships in the United States: a social science perspective". The American Psychologist 61 (6): 607–21. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.61.6.607. PMID 16953748. http://wedding.thejons.net/homework/optional_readings.pdf. 
  47. ^ (How) Does the Sexual Orientation of Parent's Matter?

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