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.
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
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.
1 American Academy of Pediatrics, "Co parent or Second-Parent Adoption by Same-Sex Parents," Pediatrics. 109(2002): 339-340.
2 Robert Lerner, Ph.D., Althea Nagai, Ph.D. No Basis: What the Studies Don't Tell Us About Same Sex Parenting, Washington DC; Marriage Law Project/Ethics and Public Policy Center, 2001.
3 P. Morgan, Children as Trophies? Examining the Evidence on Same-sex Parenting, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK; Christian Institute, 2002.
4 J. Paul Guiliani and Dwight G. Duncan, "Brief of Amici Curiae Massachusetts Family Institute and National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality," Appeal to the Supreme Court of Vermont, Docket No. S1009-97CnC.
5 Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandfeur, Growing Up with a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994), p. 45
6 Sotirios Sarantakos, "Children in Three Contexts: Family, Education, and Social Development," Children Australia, vol. 21 (1996): 23-31.
7 Jeanne M. Hilton and Esther L. Devall, "Comparison of Parenting and Children's Behavior in Single-Mother, Single-Father, and Intact Families," Journal of Divorce and Remarriage 29 (1998): 23-54.
8 Elizabeth Thomson et al., "Family Structure and Child Well-Being: Economic Resources vs. Parental Behaviors," Social Forces 73 (1994): 221-42.
9 David Popenoe, Life Without Father (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996), pp. 144, 146.
10 Gwat Yong Lie and Sabrina Gentlewarrier, "Intimate Violence in Lesbian Relationships: Discussion of Survey Findings and Practice Implications," Journal of Social Service Research 15 (1991): 41-59.
11 D. Island and P. Letellier, Men Who Beat the Men Who Love Them: Battered Gay Men and Domestic Violence (New York: Haworth Press, 1991), p. 14.
12 Lettie L. Lockhart et al., "Letting out the Secret: Violence in Lesbian Relationships," Journal of Interpersonal Violence 9 (1994): 469-492.
13 "Violence Between Intimates," Bureau of Justice Statistics Selected Findings, November 1994, p. 2.
14 Health Implications Associated With Homosexuality (Austin: The Medical Institute for Sexual Health, 1999), p. 79.
15 David P. McWhirter and Andrew M. Mattison, The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1984), pp. 252, 253.
16 M. Saghir and E. Robins, Male and Female Homosexuality (Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1973), p. 225; L. A. Peplau and H. Amaro, "Understanding Lesbian Relationships," in Homosexuality: Social, Psychological, and Biological Issues, ed. J. Weinrich and W. Paul (Beverly Hills: Sage, 1982).
17 M. Pollak, "Male Homosexuality," in Western Sexuality: Practice and Precept in Past and Present Times, ed. P. Aries and A. Bejin, translated by Anthony Forster (New York, NY: B. Blackwell, 1985), pp. 40-61, cited by Joseph Nicolosi in Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality (Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson Inc., 1991), pp. 124, 125.
18 A. P. Bell and M. S. Weinberg, Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), pp. 308, 309; See also A. P. Bell, M. S. Weinberg, and S. K. Hammersmith, Sexual Preference (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1981).
19 Paul Van de Ven et al., "A Comparative Demographic and Sexual Profile of Older Homosexually Active Men," Journal of Sex Research 34 (1997): 354.
20 A. A. Deenen, "Intimacy and Sexuality in Gay Male Couples," Archives of Sexual Behavior, 23 (1994): 421-431.
21 "Sex Survey Results," Genre (October 1996), quoted in "Survey Finds 40 percent of Gay Men Have Had More Than 40 Sex Partners," Lambda Report, January 1998, p. 20.
22 Maria Xiridoui, et al., "The Contribution of Steady and Casual Partnerships to the Incidence of HIV Infection among Homosexual Men in Amsterdam," AIDS 17 (2003): 1029-1038. [Note: one of the findings of this recent study is that those classified as being in "steady relationships" reported an average of 8 casual partners a year in addition to their partner (p. 1032)]
23 J. Bradford et al., "National Lesbian Health Care Survey: Implications for Mental Health Care," Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 62 (1994): 239, cited in Health Implications Associated with Homosexuality, p. 81.
24 Theo G. M. Sandfort, et al., "Same-sex Sexual Behavior and Psychiatric Disorders," Archives of General Psychiatry 58 (January 2001): 85-91.
25 Bailey, J.M. Commentary: Homosexuality and mental illness. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry. 56 (1999): 876-880. Author states, "These studies contain arguably the best published data on the association between homosexuality and psychopathology, and both converge on the same unhappy conclusion: homosexual people are at substantially higher risk for some forms of emotional problems, including suicidality, major depression, and anxiety disorder, conduct disorder, and nicotine dependence...."
26 Joanne Hall, "Lesbians Recovering from Alcoholic Problems: An Ethnographic Study of Health Care Expectations," Nursing Research 43 (1994): 238-244
27 R. Herrell et al., "Sexual Orientation and Suicidality, Co-twin Study in Adult Men," Archives of General Psychiatry 56 (1999): 867-874.
28 Vickie M. Mays, et al., "Risk of Psychiatric Disorders among Individuals Reporting Same-sex Sexual Partners in the National Comorbidity Survey," American Journal of Public Health, vol. 91 (June 2001): 933-939.
29 Robert S. Hogg et al., "Modeling the Impact of HIV Disease on Mortality in Gay and Bisexual Men," International Journal of Epidemiology 26 (1997): 657.
30 Sandfort, T.G.M.; de Graaf, R.; Bijl, R.V.; Schnabel. Same-sex sexual behavior and psychiatric disorders. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry. 58 (2001): 85-91.
31 F. Tasker and S. Golombok, "Adults Raised as Children in Lesbian Families," American Journal of Orthopsychiatric Association, 65 (1995): 213.
32 J. Michael Bailey et al., "Sexual Orientation of Adult Sons of Gay Fathers," Developmental Psychology 31 (1995): 124-129
33 Ibid., pp. 127, 128.
34 F. Tasker and S. Golombok, "Do Parents Influence the Sexual Orientation of Their Children?" Developmental Psychology 32 (1996): 7.
35 Judith Stacey and Timothy J. Biblarz, "(How) Does the Sexual Orientation of Parents Matter," American Sociological Review 66 (2001): 174, 179.
36 D. Fergusson et al., "Is Sexual Orientation Related to Mental Health Problems and Suicidality in Young People?" Archives of General Psychiatry 56 (October 1999).
(c) 2004 American College of Pediatricians