Kids raised by same-sex or opposite-sex parents do not differ in overall health and well-being, a new study revealed.
With the increasing number of same-sex households, the researchers wanted to finally put an end to the ongoing debate over the general health outcome of children raised by same-sex parents.
Those against same-sex parenting reason out that previous studies showed that children tend to develop psychological problems, poor physical health and have lower levels of income when raised by same-sex parents.
However, Dr. Henry Bos of University of Amsterdam noted that the results of previous studies were faulty because they were based on convenience samples or fertility recruitment. The researchers also pointed out that it included households that are not stable or those whose parents have separated or divorced.
Using the 2011 to 2012 National Survey of Children's health data, the study investigated 95 female same-sex families and 95 opposite-sex households with children aged 6-17 years old. The study parameters included age of parents, residential place (rural or urban), child's age, race, gender and whether the parents or the kids were born in the U.S.
To reduce bias, the researchers matched the parent-child characteristics and included only families that considered stable starting from the birth or adoption of the child. Male same-sex families were excluded from the study due to insufficient number of stable households.
The study revealed that among stable families, there is no difference in the overall health and well-being of kids raised by same-sex parents to those of kids with opposite-sex parents.
General health, coping behaviors, emotional difficulties and learning behaviors of children from same-sex households do not differ from those raised in opposite-sex families. Children with better general health are raised in households that have positive parent-child relationships.
However, the study found that indicative predictors of the said behavior depend on the parent-child relationship and parenting stress.
In particular, lesbian parents undergo higher levels of parenting stress, which could be because of homophobia, according to Dr. Nanette Gartrell, one of the authors.
"Parents feel pressured to justify the quality of their parenting more than their heterosexual counterparts," Gartrell said, as she suggested that more studies focused on parenting stress should be done to further understand the factors involved.
"[T]he cultural spotlight on same-sex parenting may be part of the stress," she said.
The study was published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.
The 2013 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) estimated (PDF) that there are 690,000 same-sex partners, and about 19 percent of them have children who are under 18 years old.
Perhaps what must be taken into the consideration is the social stigma put to those same-sex families. Most children who experience problems in adulthood result of bullying. A study revealed that children who were bullied by their peers suffer long-term mental health problems compared to the victims of child abuse.