Mental Health of Young Adults with Lesbian Parents

By Nanette Gartrell, Henny Bos, Audrey Koh
July 2018

A new study by the Williams Institute finds that 25-year-olds raised by lesbian parents do as well on multiple measures of psychological health as their peers. The researchers compared relationships, educational/job performance, and behavioral, emotional and mental health problems in the two samples.

The 25-year-olds are participants in the ongoing U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS), which has followed the same cohort of offspring from conception to adulthood. Researchers focused on mental health because the peak incidence of many psychiatric disorders occurs during young adulthood.

The researchers specifically assessed adaptive functioning, the presence of behavioral or emotional problems, scores on the mental health diagnostic scales, and percentages of scores in the borderline or clinical range. Results showed no significant difference between the two groups for any of the measures.

There are an estimated 114,000 same-sex couples raising children in the United States, including 86,000 female couples. Ten states, including Alabama, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, allow state-licensed child welfare agencies to refuse to place and provide services to children and families if it conflicts with their religious beliefs.

Read the press release

To request a copy of the study, please email

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