Children of same-sex attracted parents doing well in the face of stigma

July 4, 2014
Credit: Playdough, funathomewithkids.com

Children of same-sex attracted parents have above average health and wellbeing, according to groundbreaking University of Melbourne research published in the journal BMC Public Health.

However, the study also warned stigma was an ongoing challenge for these children, and could have an impact on their health and wellbeing.

The research is based on data from the Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families (ACHESS), the largest of its kind in the world, which involved input from 315 same sex parents with a total of 500 children.

Of these families, 80 per cent had female parents while 18 per cent had male parents

The results confirm and expand on early findings from the same data set.

The research revealed children in same-sex parent families had scores that were on average six per cent greater than the on measures of general health and family cohesion.

Lead researcher Dr Simon Crouch, from the Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program, Centre for Health Equity at the University of Melbourne said the findings suggested that Australian children with same-sex attracted parents were developing well.

"These children are growing up in a range of family contexts formed in a range of ways; from previous heterosexual relationships, to assisted reproductive technologies and same sex co-parenting arrangements," he said.

He noted that on most measures including temperament and mood, behavior, mental health, emotional role, and self-esteem children were equivalent to children from the general population however in areas of general health and family cohesion in particular, children with same-sex attracted parents were doing better than those in the general population.

"It appears that same-sex parent families get a long well and this has a positive impact on health," Dr Crouch said.

"We know that same-sex attracted parents are more likely to share child care and work responsibilities more equitably than heterosexual parent families, based more on skills rather than gender roles. This appears to be contributing to a more harmonious household and having a positive impact on ," he said.

Dr Crouch said the work was particularly relevant in a contemporary Australian political context.

"Australian politicians and others still object to marriage equality and same-sex adoption based on arguments that children need to be raised by a married biological mother and biological father to do well."

"This study shows that children can thrive in a range of family contexts and the ways that these families are constructed can bring their own particular benefits to child health and wellbeing," he said.

Despite the positive findings however around two thirds of children with same-sex attracted parents experience some form of stigma due to their parents' sexual orientation which impacts on mental and emotional wellbeing.

"Stigma can be subtle, such as letters home from school addressed to Mr and Mrs," Dr Crouch said.

"Or it can be overt and very harmful, in the form of bullying and abuse at school."

"What we have found is that the more stigma these families experience the greater the impact on the social and emotional wellbeing of ."

He said however it was through improved awareness of stigma that these findings could play an important role in developing health policies that improve child health outcomes.

To further understand these results, future work will report on child perspectives of health, and via interviews with same-sex parent families explore issues of stigma and discrimination in more detail.

Explore further: Children of same sex attracted parents score high on health and wellbeing

Related Stories

Children of same sex attracted parents score high on health and wellbeing

June 7, 2013
Australian children of same-sex couples fared better on average than families from the general population on measures of general health and family cohesion, but continue to be subject to discrimination, interim findings of ...

Family dysfunction a strong predictor of emotional problems in children of cancer patients

June 23, 2014
A cancer diagnosis affects the whole family, and a significant number of children of cancer patients may be at risk for emotional and behavioral problems. A new analysis published early online in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal ...

New study to focus on understanding challenges of transgender children and their parents

March 21, 2014
Amy Przeworski, assistant professor of psychology at Case Western Reserve University, and graduate student Jennifer Birnkrant will lead an online study that captures the experiences of transgender and gender variant children ...

Raising adopted children, how parents cooperate matters more than gay or straight

July 12, 2013
A new study by psychology researchers suggests that whether parents are gay, lesbian or straight, how well they work together as a couple and support each other in parenting is linked to fewer behavior problems among their ...

Study reveals benefits of wishes on seriously ill children and their parents

September 10, 2013
New research has shown that schemes that grant children with a life threatening illness a special wish have a positive impact on their and their family's wellbeing.

Recommended for you

Self-control may not diminish throughout the day

September 20, 2017
Our self-control may not be a finite resource that diminishes throughout the day, but we may still experience fatigue while persisting in a single task, according to a study published September 20, 2017 in the open-access ...

Researchers develop new tool to assess individual's level of wisdom

September 20, 2017
Researchers at University of San Diego School of Medicine have developed a new tool called the San Diego Wisdom Scale (SD-WISE) to assess an individual's level of wisdom, based upon a conceptualization of wisdom as a trait ...

Alcohol use affects levels of cholesterol regulator through epigenetics

September 20, 2017
In an analysis of the epigenomes of people and mice, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine and the National Institutes of Health report that drinking alcohol may induce changes to a cholesterol-regulating gene.

Oxytocin turns up the volume of your social environment

September 20, 2017
Before you shop for the "cuddle" hormone oxytocin to relieve stress and enhance your social life, read this: a new study from the University of California, Davis, suggests that sometimes, blocking the action of oxytocin in ...

One in four girls is depressed at age 14, new study reveals

September 20, 2017
New research shows a quarter of girls (24%) and one in 10 boys (9%) are depressed at age 14.

Tablets can teach kids to solve physical puzzles

September 20, 2017
Researchers confirm that when 4-6 year old children learn how to solve a puzzle using a touchscreen tablet, they can then apply this learning to the same puzzle in the physical world. This contradicts most previous research ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.