The Effects of Gay Parents On their children By: Cora Wood
Background research In the United States, the number of same-sex couples who have children is now estimated at around 1.5-5 million lesbian mothers, and between 1-3 million gay fathers, and the numbers continue to climb. Although research of the impact that gay and lesbian parenting can have on their children is relatively new and has only been performed in small samples on children with a narrow range of demographics, the studies that have been performed have been consistent in showing that gay and lesbian parenting does not impose negative consequences on their child in regards to standard child well being measures. There have been some studies which revealed that males raised by lesbian mothers are often more feminine than other males but resemble the same amount of femininity as males raised by a single mother. However, no evidence has indicated that children raised by gay couples are significantly different than children raised by straight parents, when comparing the differences in certain gender-typical activities that the children participated in.
BACKGROUND RESEARCH One study that was done, interviewed 67 people aged-thirteen and above who were raised by homosexual parents and divided their responses based on “predominately positive, “neutral,” “ambivalent,” and “somewhat negative.” The results were as follows: 31 accounts were predominately positive, 7 accounts were neutral, 27 accounts were considered ambivalent, and 3 accounts were somewhat negative . The predominately positive responses seemed to reflect positively upon their upbringing, Neutral responses used phrases such as “It didn’t bother me,” ambivalent responses included both positive reflections about the advantages of their upbringing as well as the disadvantages that came along with it, and somewhat negative responses included negative aspects about their upbringing such as a having a mother who was “emotionally abusive” but none made any statements that directly related to how their parent’s orientation affected them.
Hypothesis Children of homosexual parents are affected in much the same way psychologically, socially, and emotionally, that children of heterosexual couples are.
Subjects (The name of each family member has been changed in order to protect their privacy.) Since this topic would be a particularly difficult to research by locating and surveying a large number of children who are being raised by gay or lesbian parents, I decided to do a case study on a twenty-two year old straight male named Brandon, who happens to be a good friend of mine from high school, and was raised by two lesbian parents. Before describing the methods I used to do my research, it is important to know a little bit of background of the family in order to grasp a sense of the type of home environment that Brandon grew up in. Brandon was raised as an only child by both his biological mother Katrina, who was artificially inseminated by a sperm donor, as well as her life-long partner Brandi who has had played an equally active role in Brandon’s life since he was born. Brandon grew up in a middle income family and his parents are in a happy and committed relationship.
Methods and Procedures Determine the type of relationship Brandon had with his parents and what type of environment he was raised in through observations.
I observed how Brandon and his parents interacted in order exclude any of my own assumptions on how a lesbian couple would parent their child.
I also wanted to gain insight on any obvious differences between the bonding techniques used between homosexual parents and heterosexual parents.
I found it equally important to know whether Brandon had been raised in a gender neutral environment or if the gender roles that his parents portrayed were any different than typical masculine and feminine gender roles assigned to men and women.
2. Conduct a brief interview with the parents to gain further insight
Find out the parents attitude towards their parenting
Discover aspects of parenting that may have been difficult
Learn more information that may have been missed through observations
Methods and Procedures After learning more about the parents, the next step of my research was to observe any social, emotional, and psychological differences in Brandon that might directly be correlated to being raised by lesbian parents. Once again, I conducted a short interview with Brandon asking him to provide open and honest answers to 10 questions. Each of the ten questions were divided based on how they affected Brandon
I then analyzed Brandon’s responses to determine if he responded negatively and positively. Based on his responses, I was able to see if the negative responses were directly related to his parent’s orientation rather than other factors that could have altered the results.
Results Psychologically Brandon did mention that he was more feminine than other males and enjoyed hobbies such as poetry and song writing. Brandon is a straight male. Being raised by lesbian parents did not have an impact on his sexual orientation. Brandon was also more accepting of gender differences in work and outside environments Emotionally Often times Brandon would worry for his own parents well-being as well as how they would be judged by his peers Brandon stated that he was curious about what his real father was like, but had no intentions or desires to meet him. Socially Brandon felt he could easily relate to other males He also demonstrated that he could maintain a relationship with women. (He currently has a girlfriend who he’s been seing for over a year.) Brandon considers himself an open-minded person to the differences of his peers How Brandon views gay marriage: Brandon feels that his experience with lesbian mothers has been a positive one and supports gay marriage.
Conclusion Based off my results, I believe that my findings do support my hypothesis. Although my research on this particular family did demonstrate that lesbian parents do have a unique style of parenting when it comes to teaching their children gender, I also witnessed these two parents interact with their child in much the same way that my heterosexual parents interacted with me. Even though Brandon displayed slightly more feminine qualities than most males, Brandon appeared to be an average 22year old male, with many of the same interests, aspirations, and relationships as many of his peers who were raised by heterosexual parents. If I were to do this study differently, I would have surveyed and observed a larger number of families of homosexual parents. I would have also devised a more solid experiment and would have contrasted the differences between children of homosexual parents and those of heterosexual parents.
References Fairlough, A. (2008, September). Growing up with a lesbian or gay parent: young people’s perspectives. Kimmel, M. S. (2008). The Gendered Society. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc. Lucy Rimalower, C. C. (2009, February 19). he mamas and the papas: the invisible diversity of families with same-sex parents in the United States.