The first conception to adolescence study to follow daughters and sons of lesbian couples has found that kids raised by two female parents grow up to be better adjusted and higher achieving than their peers.
The U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS) followed 77 lesbian families for 25 years when they were first starting the donor insemination process. Those kids are now 18 to 23 years old, and the most recent data was collected by asking parents and their now 17-year-old kids to fill out standardized psychological questionnaires about their feelings and experiences.
The NLLFS discovered that teens raised by lesbian parents are rated higher in social and academic areas, as well as overall confidence, and have lower rates of negative teen behaviors like rule-breaking and aggression. This came as a surprise to NLLFS principal investigator Nanette Gartrell, MD, who told CNN.com, “I would have anticipated the kids would be doing as well as the normative sample. I didn’t expect better.”
“Our data show that adolescents reared in lesbian parent households are psychologically healthy and high-functioning,” Gartrell said in a press release. “The mothers provided healthy, loving and safe environments where their daughters and sons could grow and thrive. We have followed these families since the mothers were inseminating or pregnant, and at each interview, we have been impressed with how well the kids are doing. At 17, we find that the kids are well-adjusted and well-equipped for college and beyond.”
Researchers noted no difference between kids with known and unknown donors.
A common argument of same-sex parenting is that children will be stigmatized by homophobia, but while some teens in the study reported teasing from peers about their parents’ sexuality, psychologically they were no different from kids who had not been teased. That outcome, says Gartrell, will be the subject of a future study.
The study, of course, isn’t without its critics. Conservative groups point out that the study was funded by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy groups and is biased. Gartrell argues back that her study has weathered serious peer review and that her findings hold up under scrutiny.
Photo: Drab Makyo, Flickr
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