Despite certain stereotypes, children of same-sex couples may enjoy equal or better health and well-being than kids in the general population, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that children from same-sex families scored 6 percent better in terms of their general health, behavior and family cohesion than kids overall, in a survey conducted among families in Australia. On most health measures, including emotional behavior and physical functioning, kids from same-sex families had similar results to other children.
"It's often suggested that children with same-sex parents have poorer outcomes because they're missing a parent of a particular sex," study author Simon Crouch, a researcher at the University of Melbourne, wrote online explaining the findings. "But research my colleagues and I published in the journal BMC Public Health shows this isn't the case."
In the study, researchers surveyed 315 same-sex couples who were parents of 500 children. About 80 percent of the children in the study had two female parents and 18 percent had male parents. The investigators asked the parents questions about their children's health and well-being using internationally-recognized measures. The researchers compared the results with responses from other families in the general population.
Previous research, based on smaller samples, has shown that there were no significant differences between developmental outcomes in kids from same-sex families and other children.
Even though children of same-sex parents seem to do at least as well as other kids when it comes to their health, about "two-thirds of children with same-sex parents experienced some form of stigma due to their parents' sexual orientation which, of course, impacts on their mental and emotional well-being," Crouch wrote.
"Stigma can be subtle, such as letters home from school addressed to Mr. and Mrs," he wrote. "Or it can be overt and very harmful, in the form of bullying and abuse at school."
And the greater the stigma that kids encounter, the greater the effect it has on their social and emotional well-being, he wrote.
Other evidence suggests that same-sex parents are more likely to equally share care and work responsibilities, compared with heterosexual parents, which may contribute to their children's well-being, the researchers said.
"It is liberating for parents to take on roles that suit their skills rather than defaulting to gender stereotypes, where mum is the primary care giver and dad the primary breadwinner," Crouch wrote.