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Examiner
  • Amy Gehrt: Gay parents and well-adjusted kids

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  • Many of those who oppose gay marriage couch their arguments in the idea that marriage is for procreation. Point out that millions of married couples — gay and straight alike — who want children cannot create them, and most of them will invariably respond that adoption should only be an option for those seeking to create “traditional” families, because being raised with two moms or two dads must surely harm a child.
    However, a new study — the largest of its kind ever conducted — finds the exact opposite is true. Instead, it finds, kids raised in same-sex households are actually more likely to be healthier and happier. Researchers at the University of Melbourne in Australia surveyed 315 same-sex couples who parent a total of 500 children. The resulting data showed that children with same-sex parents scored about 6 percent higher on family cohesion and general health, “even when controlling for a number of sociodemographic factors such as parent education and household income.”
    And when it came to other factors, such as emotional health and physical functioning, there was no difference between those raised in same-sex families and opposite-sex families.
    Dr. Simon Crouch, the lead researcher of the study, attributes the better social cohesion score to a more even distribution of work. “It is liberating for parents to take on roles that suit their skills rather than defaulting to gender stereotypes, where mum is the primary caregiver and dad the primary breadwinner,” he wrote. While this latest study is the largest of its kind, it is not the first to be conducted, nor is it the first to find that children are not harmed in the slightest by being raised by gay and lesbian parents.
    In fact, when the American Academy of Pediatrics came out in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage last year, it rooted its argument in an analysis of three decades’ worth of data.
    “More than 100 scientific publications over 30 years, taken together, have demonstrated that children’s well-being is affected much more by their relationships with their parents, their parents’ sense of competence and security, and the presence of social and economic support for the family than by the gender or the sexual orientation of their parents,” the American Academy of Pediatrics report stated.
    Ironically, it turns out those who claim to be so concerned about the well-being of children in same-sex families may actually pose the biggest problem to them. However, even then, according to the AAP report, those kids showed resilience “with regard to social, psychological and sexual health despite economic and legal disparities and social stigma.”
    Benjamin Siegel, a professor of pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and co-author of that report, told the Washington Post, “We’re never going to get the perfect science, but what you have right now is good-enough science. The data we have right now are good enough to know what’s good for kids.”
    Page 2 of 2 - And what’s good for kids is being raised in stable, loving homes. Period. Being biologically able to bear a baby doesn’t necessarily mean one is fit to parent that child. Read the news reports any day and one is bound to find stories of horrible abuse committed on children by their parents. Or just look at the state of adoption in Tazewell county, Illinois, where, according to Children’s Rights, a national advocacy group, kids spend an average of about three years waiting in the system for adoption ... and some never find forever homes at all.
    Sadly, of the 400,000 children in foster care, more than a fourth of those — 101,666 — are awaiting adoptions, if only homes could be found for them. Forty-two percent of those were removed from their homes before the age of 2.
    It seems to me we should be doing everything possible to find these kids permanent parents who will love and nurture them, not trying to prevent that. Many same-sex couples are willing to provide loving homes, and they are just as capable of doing that as any other couples.
    So if building strong, stable families is the true goal, then it’s time that those who have been so strenuously objecting to same-sex couples raising children to instead turn their attention to helping anyone who wants to be a parent be one — regardless of whether that person is straight or gay.
    And if those people still want to continue questioning parenting skills based on the sexual orientation of the parents, perhaps the focus should shift to straight couples. After all, accidental pregnancies don’t happen in same-sex relationships, so gay couples who have a child choose to have one. So doesn’t it stand to reason that the real threat to kids is being born to parents who don’t want them, or aren’t equipped to raise them?
    ——
    Amy Gehrt is the city editor of the Pekin (Illinois) Daily Times. She may be reached at agehrt@pekintimes.com, or on Twitter @AmyGehrt. The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Pekin Daily Times or this publication.

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