Spanish Study: Gays Make Great Parents
A new study in Spain says that gay parents are "excellent" at raising healthy, well-adjusted children.
The study assessed how children fared in homes with same-sex parents, and found that both young children and adolescents benefited from the attention they received by two engaged, caring parents of the same gender, reported news site Typically Spanish on March 19.
The results on same-sex parenting were part of a larger study examining "new families," or ways in which the "traditional" family structure has changed now that more women are entering the work force. The study surveyed 214 families of various types, including families with married parents of opposite genders, same-sex parents, single parents, and families in which the parents had separated but then reunited.
Though reputable research has been done in the United States and elsewhere on the subject of same-sex parenting, this is the first time a study of this sort has been conducted in Spain. The research on same-sex families has long shown that children with two parents of the same gender do just as well as children from homes headed by opposite-sex parents.
But anti-gay groups regularly tout studies that they say prove that children need both a male and female parent. However, the studies that such groups point to do not address same-sex couples and their children; rather, they examine the effects on children of being raised by single mothers. Even so, political decisions, including denial of family parity by voters, are often informed by the studies concerning single-parent families, rather than studies that actually examine same-sex parenting.
"Significant policy decisions have been swayed by the misconception across party lines that children need both a mother and a father," notes USC College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences sociologist Timothy Biblarz, as quoted in a Jan. 25 QNotes article. "Yet, there is almost no social science research to support this claim. One problem is that proponents of this view routinely ignore research on same-gender parents."
Biblarz and co-author Judith Stacey of NYU published a paper in the Journal of Marriage and Family’s February issue that looked at same-sex parenting and concluded that child rearing was affected only slightly, and only in one way: the manner in which a child might be fed. Same-sex male couples cannot breast feed their babies. "The social science research that is routinely cited does not actually speak to the questions of whether or not children need both a mother and a father at home," the paper notes. "Instead proponents generally cite research that compares [heterosexual two-parent] families with single parents, thus conflating the number with the gender of parents."
The "common sense" notion that children need a mother and a father to develop properly is comforting to many, but the science seems not to support it. Noted co-author Stacey, "That a child needs a male parent and a female parent is so taken for granted that people are uncritical."