Over the last few years, a few published studies have claimed that children raised by same-sex couples compare favorably to — and sometimes even better than — children raised by moms and dads on measures of self-esteem and academics.
Those studies, in turn, have served as fodder for a media campaign that two loving parents are all children really need.
But a closer look at the research, says Glenn T. Stanton, Focus on the Family’s director of family formation studies, shows there are quite a few problems associated with those studies — both in the way they were conducted and in what they reveal.
According to a study published late last year in the Archive of Sexual Behavior, girls raised by lesbian mothers are seven times more likely to consider a same-sex encounter, and twice as likely to identify as lesbian or bisexual than those raised by heterosexual parents. They are also seven times more likely to use “the “morning after” pill.
“We already know that girls who grow up without fathers are more likely to be sexually adventurous, and it has a lot to do with being fatherless,” Stanton explained. “Two lesbians can be the most loving moms in the world, but they can’t give a girl the kind of positive attention and other-gendered affirmation she needs from a dad.”
While girls raised by lesbians tend to be much more sexually experimental than their peers, boys tend to be more sexually reticent.
“Boys without male role models tend to be either overly super-macho, trying to see how many girls they can get, or wallflowers,” Stanton said. “They’re not necessarily more sexually virtuous than boys raised by heterosexual parents, but they haven’t developed emotionally and psychologically in the same ways. It’s not that they don’t want to go in the water — they’re not inclined to go anywhere near the water.”
Overall, the research shows that 64 percent of children raised in lesbian households consider having homosexual relationships, compared to 17 percent raised by heterosexual parents.
The data was drawn from the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study — the longest, largest study of same-sex families conducted so far. Though articles based on it have been published in several academic journals, Stanton said the methodology used wouldn’t be accepted for a less politically charged issue.
The 84 lesbian families — a statistically insignificant sample size — were recruited exclusively from San Francisco, Boston and Washington, D.C. All were seeking pregnancy (or were already pregnant) through artificial insemination, and learned about the study from announcements at lesbian-oriented events, newspapers and bookstores; 38 percent belonged to gay activist organizations and 80 percent said if given a choice, they’d want to be lesbians
“These women know they’re participating in something that’s really important for their movement,” Stanton said, pointing out the study’s 97 percent retention rate — extremely rare in scientific circles. “Joe Sixpack could discern the problems with this study, but good journalists tend to put their critical thinking skills to bed on this issue because they don’t want the backlash that will come down on them if they ask critical questions.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the FocusFamilyInsight on “Adolescents of the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Sexual Orientation, Sexual Behavior, and Sexual Risk Exposure,” published in the Archive of Sexual Behavior.
Read more about the flaws in the methodology employed by the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study.