Are Gay Parents Good for Children?

Last January, President Bush announced at a press conference, “Studies have shown that the ideal is where a child is raised in a married family with a man and a woman.” But when you look more closely at the research, you begin to wonder about the validity of the studies the President had in mind.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the established organization of pediatricians, has no doubts about the issue. Its guidelines, arising from a 2002 review of research by Tufts University Professor of Pediatrics Ellen Perrin, say there should be no barriers to gay-parent adoption and custody. “There’s no good evidence that same-sex parents are any less fit than heterosexual parents, and some of them may provide subtle advantages,” Perrin says. She admits, however, that there have been no definitive studies of the psychological effects of growing up in a gay household, primarily because of sample problems. Until recently, there just weren’t that many openly gay parents. But that’s been changing, she says.

The AAP stance is in marked contrast to that of the American College of Pediatricians (ACP), which says that children of gay parents are definitely at risk for emotional problems. But the ACP, a small organization that broke away from the AAP over its position paper, seems as concerned with promoting certain values as with promoting children’s emotional and physical health. The college says its mission is “to develop sound policy based upon quality research,” and that it “recognizes the inherent value of both a father and a mother, united in marriage.” The ACP position paper opposing gay parenting cites no peer-reviewed studies that directly find a negative effect of gay parents on children. Instead, it draws its conclusion primarily from studies finding that gay adults have higher incidences of psychological and health problems.

In fact, the idea that children do worse when raised by gay parents appears to be based on the assumption that there’s something inherently wrong with homosexuality. “Homosexual parents don’t do well because they have more partner changes, more drug abuse, more history of missing work, and all these things conspire to make a homosexual parent less suitable,” says psychologist Paul Cameron, perhaps the most prominent researcher who opposes gay parents. Cameron is Chairman of the Family Research Institute, an organization that believes “in preserving America’s historic moral framework and the traditional family.” Perrin, he says, used “biased studies from homosexual journals.” (About 7 of her 23 journal citations come from peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Homosexuality). By contrast, 10 of Cameron’s studies about homosexuals have been published in one journal, Psychological Reports, which, says Perrin, authors have to pay to be published in.

Responding to positions of researchers like Cameron, Perrin insists that it “isn’t the sexual identity of the parents that matters: it’s things like how well the parents get along, how integrated the kids are in school—the same social factors that matter to all kids.”

source: Psychotherapy Networker

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Dr. Gnap

Dr. Gnap is a family practice physician and behavioral medicine specialist in suburban Chicago.  Dr. Gnap developed the Inner Control™ Program in 1970 and has worked with thousands of people to improve and correct medical, emotional, behavioral and learning problems including performance.  He started the Inner Control program because so many patients asked, “what more can be done along with traditional treatment methods?”

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