Woman was God's second mistake
In spite of arguments opposing, gay marriage was declared a constitutional right by the Massachusetts Supreme Court. The debate is not ended though, as it is always possible to urge a constitutional amendment outlawing homosexual nuptials. For instance, the US Presidential contender John Kerry recently left open the possibility he could support a Massachusetts ban on gay marriage if it recognized civil unions and other protections as an alternative.
Irrespective the opponents' reasons are currently relevant or not, homosexual marriages are somewhere legal and can raise a baby: gays adopt in many states and lesbians give birth in all of them. Now the point is detecting potentially harmful effects of being raised by a homosexual parent (1).
At our knowledge there is only one controlled prospective study that examines offspring of families with lesbian mothers once in childhood and again in young adulthood (2).
Such an investigation analyses 54 British families in charge of lesbians, 50 percent of which were led by a mother whose current sexual relationship was with a woman.
The 27 control families were led by mothers whose most recent sexual relationship had been heterosexual but who ultimately became divorced or separated.
There were 39 children in each group, and the average age at the beginning of the study was 9.5 years.
Assessments were made both for the presence of mental disorder in the children and to rate the children's gender-role behavior.
The main findings of the study were the following:
1) When interviewed as young adults, children from lesbians were no more likely than controls to have sought professional help for mental problems and were no more likely to exhibit symptoms of anxiety or depression.
2) The children brought up in lesbian households were no more likely than those from heterosexual mothers to be attracted to someone of the same gender (2 out of 25 and 0 out of 20, respectively). However, significantly more of the young adults from lesbian than from control families reported having experienced a sexual relationship with someone of the same gender.
3) The children from lesbians had a more positive identification with their family as young adults than did members of the control group.
The above findings provide some support for a reinforcement (or lack of discouragement) from the mother; they are also congruent with the idea that seeing a variety of sexual scripts enables young people to consider same-gender sexual relationships for themselves.
This study may be biased by the fact that only children living with a biological parent were included, and thus the potential role of biology in development of sexual orientation could have been missed out. Also, since all of the children spent their early years with a 'male-female' pairing of parents, the supposed effects of later parenting were not taken into account.
1) Is lesbian parenting bad for children? The convincing answer is 'no'.
2) Does it have any influence on sexual orientation? Maybe, but probably not much.
1. Stiers J, Gretchen A: From this day forward: commitment, marriage, and family in lesbian and gay relationships. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999.
2. Tasker FL, Golombok S: Growing up in a lesbian family: effects on child development. New York: The Guilford Press, 1997.