Parenting Among LGBT People and Same-sex Couples

The Williams Institute and affiliated scholars have undertaken considerable research regarding the experiences of LGBT parents and their families. This research consistently shows that children raised by LGBT people and same-sex couples fare as well as children raised by different-sex couples across a number of different health and well-being outcomes. 

Due in part to this research, leading medical and social science associations have concluded that there is no systematic evidence of negative outcomes associated with having same-sex parents, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Sociological Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Medical Association.

Significant findings from our research include:

● There are an estimated 6 million Americans (children and adults) with an LGBT parent in the United States.

● Among couples with children, same-sex couples are four times more likely than different-sex couples to be raising an adopted child and six times more likely to be raising foster children.

● Adopted children raised by same-sex and different-sex couples develop in typical ways, as measured by both parents and teachers.

● Teens with lesbian mothers are psychologically well-adjusted, academically successful, and report strong family bonds and quality social relationships with their peers.

● Many adolescents with lesbian mothers report having male role models in their lives, but even those without male role models evidence good psychological functioning and show no differences in traditionally masculine or feminine traits.

● Despite experiencing stigmatization because of the sexual orientation of their parents, children with lesbian mothers do not experience significantly more teasing than their heterosexual peers and are able to successfully cope with these challenges.

● Adolescents raised by lesbian mothers report their quality of life as equal to that of peers raised by heterosexual couples.

● Children’s psychological adjustment is related to the amount of stress their parents experience and the quality of the couple’s relationship, regardless of the sexual orientation of their parents.

● Married couples in Massachusetts report positive effects of marriage on their children – children were happier, felt more secure and protected, and saw their families validated by society as a result of their parents being able to marry.

Sample studies include (click on link to see study):

LGBT Parenting in the United States (February 2013)

Adolescents with Lesbian Mothers Describe Their Own Lives (November 2012)

Adolescents of the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Male Role Models, Gender Role Traits, and Psychological Adjustment (June 2012)

Stigmatization Associated with Growing Up in a Lesbian-parented Family: What Do Adolescents Experience and How Do They Deal with It? (March 2012)

Quality of Life of Adolescents Raised From Birth by Lesbian Mothers (January 2012)

Parenting and Child Development in Adoptive Families: Does Parental Sexual Orientation Matter? (July 2010)

US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Psychological Adjustment of 17-Year-Old Adolescents (June 2010)

The Effects of Marriage Equality in Massachusetts: A Survey of the Experiences and Impact of Marriage on Same-sex Couples (May 2009)

Adoption and Foster Care by Gay and Lesbian Parents in the United States (March 2007)

Related News Stories

Social science struggles for data on effects of same-sex parenting on children (Washington Post, March 26, 2013)

Pediatrics Group Backs Gay Marriage, Saying It Helps Children (New York Times, March 21, 2013)