Children of same-sex parents enjoy better levels of health and well-being than others, a new Australian research study suggests.
University of Melbourne researchers surveyed 315 same-sex parents and 500 children about their physical health and social well-being, and found that kids of same-sex partners scored six percent higher in general health and family cohesion than kids of straight parents.
Lead researcher Doctor Simon Crouch said children raised by same-sex partners scored an average of 6 per cent higher than the general population on measures of general health and family cohesion.
"That’s really a measure that looks at how well families get along, and it seems that same-sex-parent families and the children in them are getting along well, and this has positive impacts on child health," said lead researcher Dr. Simon Crouch, who said the study was the largest of its kind.
Crouch said same-sex couples faced less pressure to fulfill traditional gender roles, which led to a more harmonious households. The traditional nurturing role is shared, it’s not one parent over another, the traditional breadwinning role is shared.
"Previous research has suggested that parenting roles and work roles, and home roles within same-sex parenting families are more equitably distributed when compared to heterosexual families," he said. "So what this means is that people take on roles that are suited to their skill sets rather than falling into those gender stereotypes, which is mum staying home and looking after the kids and dad going out to earn money. What this leads to is a more harmonious family unit and therefore feeding on to better health and wellbeing."
Rodney Chiang-Cruise, a parent raising three boys with his same-sex partner, agreed with the study’s findings.
"The traditional nurturing role is shared -- it’s not one parent over another; the traditional breadwinning role is shared," said Chiang-Cruise. "My personal view is that I think it teaches the child that everyone contributes in an equal way and you all have to contribute to the family."
Crouch said the study findings had implications for those who argued against marriage equality for the sake of children, saying that those who say that marriage between a man and woman is necessary to raise children, "I think what the study suggests in that context is that actually children can be brought up in many different family contexts, and it shouldn’t be a barrier to marriage equality."
Family Voice Australia research officer Roslyn Phillips said the study should be taken with caution as the parents who volunteered for the study likely self-selected as happy families.
"You’ve got to look beyond studies like these to what happens when the child reaches adulthood, and that’s the only time with independent assessment you can really say what’s gone on with the parenting and then ask them how they’re going in all sorts of ways, I think that would be a more relevant study," said Phillips. "You’ve got to look beyond studies like these to what happens when the child reaches adulthood and that’s the only time, with independent assessment you can really say, what’s gone on with the parenting."
She also intimated that Crouch, who is raising two young children with his male partner, may have brought this bias to the survey. Crouch said that he was a professional whose personal life didn’t cause him to lose his objectivity. He said that although gay families experience more stigma than others, the problems were the same.
"We have the same problems as every other family -- we have kids who don’t want to do their homework and don’t want to eat their dinner and all that sort of stuff," he said. "We are no different in that regard; we just have to work a little bit harder to make our kids more resilient."