Adult Children of Gay and Lesbian Parents: Religion and the Parent-Child Relationship
After being raised in same-sex households, some children, now grown Many children raised by gay parents are now young or middle-aged adults. personal stability, and he soon afterward moved in with a girlfriend, who is now his wife. children of same-sex couples do not face special disadvantages. Research suggest that lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide Members of gay and lesbian couples with children have been found to divide the work Whereas discrimination against lesbian and gay parents deprives their children of benefits, rights, and . Growing up in a lesbian family. In a study () of 36 adults raised by lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) parents, 15 of traditional married households, children being raised by same-sex couples of the benefits of gender complementarity in a home with a father and a mother.
The extensive research on the serious psychological, academic, and social problems in youth raised in fatherless families demonstrates the importance of the presence of the father in the home for healthy childhood development.
Let us look, then, at some of the larger, well-designed studies that have shown the risks experienced by children who were deprived of growing up in a home with both biological parents who were married to each other. A Canadian study Allenwhich analyzed data from a very large population-based sample, revealed that the children of gay and lesbian couples are only about 65 percent as likely to have graduated from high school as are the children of married, opposite-sex couples.
The girls are more apt to struggle academically than the boys.Are children of same-sex parents disadvantaged?
Three key findings stood out in this study: A study of primary school children in Australia Sarantakos compared the social and educational development of 58 children living in married families, 58 living with cohabiting heterosexuals, and 58 living in homosexual unions.
The authors found that married couples offer the best environment for a child's social and educational development, followed by cohabiting heterosexual couples and lastly by homosexual couples. A study Sirota of 68 women with gay or bisexual fathers and 68 women with heterosexual fathers found a statistically significant difference between the two groups.
The women whose average age in both groups was 29 with gay or bisexual fathers had difficulty with adult attachment issues in three areas: The study was based on a large, nationally representative, and random survey of school-age children. In a re-examination of a study by Rosenfeld Allen et al. This difference is statistically significant at the 1 percent level. A ground-breaking study from the University of Texas at Austin Regnerus found that young-adult children ages 18—39 of parents who had same-sex relationships before the subjects had reached the age of 18 were more likely to suffer from a broad range of emotional and social problems.
The study is noteworthy for several reasons: The children of lesbians and gays fared worse than those in intact heterosexual families on 77 of the 80 outcome measures. Exceptions related only to the voting habits of children with gay fathers, and alcohol use by children of lesbian mothers. In recent years, married or cohabiting gay and lesbian couples have acquired children through artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization.
Why Gay Parents May Be the Best Parents
Research published in Marquardt et al. Men in gay unions are now also seeking biologically related children through the use of surrogate mothers.
A study of children conceived through surrogate mothers by Golombok et al. The children were evaluated at ages 3, 7, and The study demonstrated that children gestated by a surrogate had higher adjustment difficulties at age 7 than the other children.
The authors concluded that the absence of a gestational connection to the mother may be problematic for children. In a study Sullins a using a representative sample ofchildren, including with same-sex parents, from the US National Health Interview Survey, emotional problems were over twice as prevalent minimum risk ratio RR 2.
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder was more than twice RR 2. How can one reconcile these significant findings with the widely publicized studies showing no harmful effects to children who have, or have lived with, lesbian or gay parents? For example, inthe American Psychological Association APA issued an official brief on lesbian and gay parenting, which included this assertion: Marks stated that this strong assertion made by the APA was not empirically warranted.
Twenty-six of 59 APA studies on same-sex parenting had no heterosexual comparison groups. Seven participants reported that although the delayed disclosure may have been upsetting, it also gave them time to process how they felt about having a gay or lesbian parent.
Maria shared her reaction to her mother telling her that her father might be gay: It just really made me think about And if he had lied about anything else Shelly, a year old, explored how she self-discovered and accepted that her father was gay before she experienced homonegativity in society: I think that I figured it out before someone told me that there was maybe something wrong with that, I mean that maybe people would be concerned about it The worry about it came later or the understanding that people were worried about it I did not have a negative association when I was younger until someone explained that to me.
She went on to describe how religiously-based homonegativity in her family further divided the family and brought her closer to her father. Six participants reported that they were more upset about their parents having kept a secret than having their gay or lesbian parent come out.
Rachel shared her experience: I guess for a long time I was really angry at her about it and at the same time it took me years for me to finally confront her. I was angry at the lie and the secrets and then angry about being put in a position of having to explain it to my friends Nancy described how her shame over having a gay or lesbian parent has decreased over the years: Alex, unlike the other participants, was too young to comprehend his unique family situation and reported that he did not initially experience shame related to having a gay or lesbian parent; however, he questioned if the attention he sought was to divert it away from his family: I think I was really blessed to not ever have to defend my parents and their people, never.
I definitely pushed the limits of my sort of outward sexuality when I was an adolescent but it was never an issue with my parents being lesbians or So I think that speaks to my parents. Seven participants reported that they felt shame for having to keep a family secret due to a delayed disclosure.
Rachel described what it was like having friends come over: Even though it was never spoken it was still you know But I everyone in the family dances around it. Shelly described how she never received support from her heterosexual parent, who still struggled herself to cope with the disclosure due to religiously-based homonegativity: The people that are Catholic in my family do My mom handled it very badly and continues to handle it very badly In addition to not being able to talk about having a gay or lesbian parent with their family members, seven participants reported that they did not feel comfortable talking to friends either.
Amy shared her experience of first disclosing to two friends that she had a gay dad, in fourth grade: So, I was basically on my own out there.
Worried that people would find out Positive Aspects of Having Gay or Lesbian Parent All 10 individuals also acknowledged benefits of having a gay or lesbian parent, such as leading them to be more open-minded and accepting of people.
They reported that having a gay or lesbian parent allowed them to think out of the box and made them want to break down social stigma. Amy shared her experience: I absolutely love it I feel like I have really found my passion I really feel it has helped to guide me into what I believe in People say hard times make you a better person and I really feel like this part of my life is really important to me and I would never change him if I could.
So, I think I love it, I think that I am twice as lucky I have two dads and a mom.
So, I have three parents that are wonderful, so I feel really lucky actually. All ten participants described a sense of pride in their family. They discussed how having an unconventional family has led them to progress from feeling they had something to be embarrassed about to something they are proud of.
Nancy explained this as follows: Now I think it is kind of cool I take pride in the fact that my family is kind of different and not conventional Shelly shared a similar experience: We have a good relationship with our dad.
While the participants discussed aspects of stigma that have impacted them; they reported that having a gay or lesbian parent has made them more open-minded and that they want to educate others about their experiences.
Amy, a year old, female with a gay father and heterosexual mother stated: Later, Amy went on to describe how she is involved with an organization that fights against religious oppression of the GLBT individuals. Victoria shared how having a gay dad could help her step-child who has a lesbian mom: Later on he described how his family and ethnicity have made him aware of his privilege: So I have reaped all the benefits of being a White, heterosexual, male in America.
I have White Privilege and I have been So, in that way I have White issues like guilt and dread and desire to be other and desire to have darker skin and to have more ethnicity, to be one of the fighters and to be part of the people struggling. Cause I am in a way but my family has never really struggled with racial prejudice. Redefined Relationship with Religion Nine participants have re-evaluated their religious beliefs, although seven participants have retained their religious identities.
Some participants have also become more aware of what their religion preaches, and were able to compare and contrast how their religious communities viewed gays and lesbians in comparison to their broader religion.
Maria shared how her religious identity has evolved: I have a lot of the values that I had growing up, but what I took out of it is to think about what I do and think about how it affects others. Of the three Jewish participants, two individuals viewed Judaism as accepting of gay and lesbian individuals. Alex reported that his synagogue was very welcoming and noted that he knew other children with gay or lesbian parents.
The third Jewish participant reported that Jewish acceptance of gay and lesbian individuals depended on the denomination. Rachel described how her Jewish religion viewed gay and lesbian individuals: I guess it depends Nancy described a different experience, having been raised in a more conservative religious denomination: A lot of nasty things that were said about her I feel angry about it All seven Christian participants reported that their religions were not officially accepting of gay and lesbian individuals, though several reported that their congregations and families had found ways to work around this.
In turn, their sons and daughters also broke new ground as the first wave of children born to gay and lesbian couples.
Zak Higgins was raised by two women but has plenty of male mentors, including an uncle he recently visited in New York City. Nick Kozak for the Toronto Star Zak Higgins, 21, was a child when his parents fought for equal rights for same-sex couples. He says his moms, Chris Higgins, left, and Chris Phibbs, centre, are "inspirational people.
Gay Parents As Good As Straight Ones
She grew up in Toronto with moms Rachel Epstein, left, Lois Fine, right, and a large network of family and friends. Those couples had 6, children living at home. Same-sex families with kids led by women outnumbered male couples by more than four to one. Camp Ten Oaks runs a one-week overnight camp every summer for children from alternative families, and a similar program called Project Acorn for youth 16 to Research has consistently shown that children raised by lesbian and gay couples fare just as well as kids with heterosexual parents.
Groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association support same-sex families along with adoption and reproductive rights. Now those grown children are able to speak for themselves. Zach Wahls of Iowa was among the first to gain public attention. Two years ago at age 19, he made a presentation to Iowa state legislators in support of same-sex marriage that instantly went viral.
It garnered him a spot on national talk shows and led to his book My Two Moms. But Robbie Barnett-Kemper says his childhood was shaped by plenty of traditions. For starters, there was the family meal most nights, a ritual that by most accounts is falling by the wayside in many modern households. Kids being kids, you can be sure there was also the occasional whine about having to be dragged off the computer, or what was on the menu.
But Robbie and his older sister Hannah could count on lively discussion with their moms — Alison Kemper, who now teaches entrepreneurship at Ryerson University, and Joyce Barnett, a psychotherapist. Dinner topics included politics, Biblical interpretation, what happened at school and which day the cleaning lady was coming.
Gay Parents As Good As Straight Ones | BU Today | Boston University
The family attended a downtown Anglican church. Barnett is also a priest and Kemper is a deacon. Robbie went to high school at Royal St.