For far too long, it has been unfairly difficult for same-sex couples to have a child. Fortunately, it's now legal for same-sex couples to adopt a child in all 50 states. And rightly so, as kids raised by same-sex parents are as happy and heathy as kids raised by straight parents, a new study has found. Of course, this news isn't exactly surprising, as the idea that children would be any less happy or healthy because of their parents' sexual orientations is completely outdated, but this extra bit of validation is still nice to have.
The study, completed by the Medical Journal of Australia — aptly titled, "The kids are OK: it is discrimination, not same-sex parents, that harms children" — looked at several past studies and research to come to the conclusion that children raised in same-sex households are no worse off than any other children.
Although much more can and should be done, the United States has come a long way in civil rights, specifically in terms LGBTIQ+ rights. But Australia is still struggling and an upcoming vote on same-sex marriage is expected to take place in November, which explains why these researchers decided to publish their findings before the vote was finalized.
It's disheartening that study's findings may be needed to influence these votes, but the evidence was clear: there is no harm done to children who are raised by same-sex parents. On the contrary, the damage being done stems from bigotry, the study suggests.
According to The Guardian, the new study looked at research from the following resources:
- A 2017 public policy research portal at Columbia Law School, which reviewed "79 studies investigating the wellbeing of children raised by gay or lesbian parents."
- A 2014 American Sociological Association review of more than 40 studies, which concluded that "children raised by same-sex couples fared as well as other children across a number of wellbeing measures."
- The Australian Institute of Family Studies’ 2013 review of the Australian and international research, which showed "there was no evidence of harm."
This is a substantial amount of data, but this isn't the first time researchers have come to this conclusion. According to sociologist Jimi Adams, who spoke to Quartz about his own findings in 2015, there is no indication that same-sex couples raise children in any way that's harmful to them.
"I found overwhelming evidence that scientists agree that there is not a negative impact to children of same-sex couples," he said.
Based on these findings and the researchers' analysis — as well as prior research done on the matter — the Medical Journal of Australia made the recommendation that (most) harm that befalls children of same-sex couples comes from outside of the home. According to the study:
Misinformation is circulating in the public domain that children and adolescents with same-sex parents are at risk of poorer health and wellbeing than other children. An increased public health risk exists as a result of homophobic campaign messages for the entire lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) community, including a mental health risk for same-sex couples, their children, and young people who identify as LGBTIQ+.
All over the world the LGBTQ+ community is facing discrimination. Just this past April, it was uncovered that gay men in Chechnya, Russia, were being arrested and killed for no other reason other than their sexuality, The New York Times reported. While Russia might not be a democracy in the way the United States is, that doesn't mean that these reports are any less disturbing. And the United States isn't exactly a safe haven for LGBTQ+ citizens either.
This summer, the Trump Administration's Justice Department made a radical announcement that "it does not consider workplace discrimination against LGBT individuals to be prohibited under federal civil rights law," according to Mother Jones. On top of that, President Donald Trump announced over the summer that he was planning to reverse the "Department of Defense’s policy on transgender service members," according to The Hill. Those are just two examples facing Americans, but there are so many more problems that the LGBTQ+ community has to face across the globe.
So, this new study is pretty important. By compiling evidence that shows that children of same-sex parents are perfectly happy and healthy, the world can further see that there is no reason LGBTQ+ citizens shouldn't have the same rights, benefits, respect, and freedoms as their straight peers. Speaking to The Guardian, the researchers explained their findings:
It is family processes — parenting quality, parental wellbeing, the quality of and satisfaction with relationships within the family - rather than family structures that make a more meaningful difference to children’s wellbeing and positive development.
Just as the American Academy of Pediatrics has long supported all different kinds of parents, this latest evidence makes it abundantly clear that the rest of the world should, too. Children need a stable home with parents who love them — it's just that simple.
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