Are children reared by two individuals of the same gender as well adjusted as children reared in families with a mother and a father? Until recently the unequivocal answer to this question was "no." Policymakers, social scientists, the media, and even physician organizations1, however, are now asserting that prohibitions on parenting by homosexual couples should be lifted. In making such far-reaching, generation-changing assertions, any responsible advocate would rely upon supporting evidence that is comprehensive and conclusive. Not only is this not the situation, but also there is sound evidence that children exposed to the homosexual lifestyle may be at increased risk for emotional, mental, and even physical harm.

Research data

Heterosexual parenting is the normative model upon which most comprehensive longitudinal research on childrearing has been based. Data on long-term outcomes for children placed in homosexual households are very limited and the available evidence reveals grave concerns. Those current studies that appear to indicate neutral to favorable results from homosexual parenting have critical flaws such as non-longitudinal design, inadequate sample size, biased sample selection, lack of proper controls, and failure to account for confounding variables.2,3,4 Childrearing studies have consistently indicated that children are more likely to thrive emotionally, mentally, and physically in a home with two heterosexual parents versus a home with a single parent. 5,6,7,8,9 Therefore, the burden is on the proponents of homosexual parenting to prove that moving further away from the heterosexual parenting model is appropriate and safe for children.

Risks of Homosexual Lifestyle to Children

Violence among homosexual partners is two to three times more common than among married heterosexual couples. 10,11,12,13,14 Homosexual partnerships are significantly more prone to dissolution than heterosexual marriages with the average homosexual relationship lasting only two to three years. 15,16,17 Homosexual men and women are reported to be inordinately promiscuous involving serial sex partners, even within what are loosely-termed "committed relationships." 18,19,20,21,22 Individuals who practice a homosexual lifestyle are more likely than heterosexuals to experience mental illness,23,24,25 substance abuse,26 suicidal tendencies,27,28 and shortened life spans.29 Although some would claim that these dysfunctions are a result of societal pressures in America, the same dysfunctions exist at inordinately high levels among homosexuals in cultures were the practice is more widely accepted.30 Children reared in homosexual households are more likely to experience sexual confusion, practice homosexual behavior, and engage in sexual experimentation. 31,32,33,34,35 Adolescents and young adults who adopt the homosexual lifestyle, like their adult counterparts, are at increased risk of mental health problems, including major depression, anxiety disorder, conduct disorder, substance dependence, and especially suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.36

Conclusion

The research literature on childrearing by homosexual parents is limited. The environment in which children are reared is absolutely critical to their development. Given the current body of research, the American College of Pediatricians believes it is inappropriate, potentially hazardous to children, and dangerously irresponsible to change the age-old prohibition on homosexual parenting, whether by adoption, foster care, or by reproductive manipulation. This position is rooted in the best available science.

January 22, 2004

The American College of Pediatricians (http://www.acpeds.org) is a national medical association of licensed physicians and healthcare professionals who specialize in the care of infants, children, and adolescents. The mission of the College is "to enable all children to reach their optimal, physical and emotional health and well-being." We promote "a society where all children from the moment of their conception are valued unselfishly." The College further notes, "that children are the future of our nation and society. As such, they deserve to be reared in the best possible family environment and supported by physicians committed to ensuring their optimal health and well-being."

For more information on the same-sex marriage debate visit: Culture Shock Monday: A Same Sex 'Marriage' Resource Guide.