Some interesting numbers from the large-scale studies on children raised by gay fathers and lesbian mothers released last week. (H/T ECM)
- LM = lesbian mothers
- GF = gay fathers
- IBF = intact biological family (heterosexual couple)
Here are the findings:
On economic outcomes, grown children of an LM were almost four times more likely to be currently on public assistance than the grown children of IBFs. As young adults, they were also 3.5 times more likely to be unemployed than the grown children of IBFs.
On criminal outcomes, the children of GFs showed the greatest propensity to be involved in crime. They were, on average, more frequently arrested and pled guilty to more non-minor offenses than the young-adult children in any other category. The children of LMs reported the second highest frequency of involvement in crimes and arrests, and in both categories the young-adult children of intact biological families reported the lowest frequency of involvement in crimes or arrests.
[W]hen asked if they were ever touched sexually by a parent or other adult, the children of LMs were eleven times more likely to say “yes” than the children from an IBF, and the children of GFs were three times more likely to say “yes.” The children of IBFs were the least likely of all family types to have ever been touched sexually: only 2% reported affirmatively (compared to 23% of LMs who replied “yes”). When asked if they were ever forced to have sex against their will, the children of LMs were the worst off again—four times more likely to say “yes” than the children of IBFs. The children of GFs were three times more likely to have been forced to have sex than the children of IBFs. In percentages, 31% of LMs said they had been forced to have sex, compared with 25% of GFs and 8% of IBFs. These results are generally consistent with research on heterosexual families. For instance, a recent federal report showed that children in heterosexual families are least likely to be sexually, physically, or emotionally abused in an intact, biological, married family.
Sexually transmitted diseases:
Regarding physical health, when asked if they had ever had a sexually transmitted infection (STI), the young-adult children of GFs were three times more likely to say “yes” than those of IBFs. Children of LMs were two and a half times more likely to say “yes,” followed by the children of stepfamilies, who were twice as likely to have had an STI as children of IBFs. Children of IBFs and children from “other” family types were the least likely of all to have had an STI.
When asked to report upon frequency of marijuana use, the young-adult children of divorced parents were the worst off, reporting that they had used marijuana on average one and a half times more frequently than children of IBFs; next came the children of LMs, followed by the children of single parents, and the children of GFs. The children adopted prior to age 2 by strangers (people unrelated to them) and the children of IBFs reported least frequent marijuana use as young adults.
Respondents were asked to report their sentiment about their family experiences while growing up. The children of LMs reported the lowest levels of perceived safety in their childhood home, followed by children of GFs, with the children of IBFs reporting the highest levels of perceived safety. When asked if they were recently or currently in therapy “for a problem connected with anxiety, depression, relationships, etc.,” children adopted by strangers reported receiving such therapy the most, followed by the children of LMs. The children from IBFs were least likely to report receiving therapy.
On the CES-D depression index, an eight-measure survey of respondents’ happy-to-depressed thoughts over the previous seven days, the young-adult children of LMs and GFs reported statistically significantly higher levels of depression than young-adult children from IBFs. The young-adult children of GFs were twice as more likely to have thought about suicide in the previous 12 months as the children of LMs, and almost five times more likely than the children of IBFs to have thought about the same.
The study asked questions about the history and current status of the young adults’ relationships. When asked to rate the quality of their current relationship, the children of GFs reported the lowest, followed by children adopted by strangers, the children of stepfamilies, and then the children of LMs.
When asked about the number of times they thought that their current relationship was in trouble, the children of GFs reported the highest numbers again, followed by the children of divorced parents. The children of IBFs reported both the highest levels of relationship quality and the lowest frequency of thinking their relationship to be in trouble of all of the family arrangements.
When asked about infidelity, children of LMs were three times more likely to report having had had an affair while married/cohabiting than children of IBFs, followed by children from stepfamilies (who were two and a half times more likely than IBFs) and children of GFs (who were twice as likely).
The NFSS asked respondents to identify their sexual orientation and found that children of LMs were more open to same-sex romantic relationships, bisexuality, and asexuality than any other group. Daughters of LMs reported an average of just over one female sex partner and four male sex partners in their lifetimes, in contrast to daughters of IBFs who reported an average of only 0.22 female sex partners and 2.79 male sex partners in their lifetimes. Daughters of LMs were also most likely to self-report asexuality, “not sexually attracted to either males or females” (4.1% of females from lesbian mothers compared to 0.5% of females from IBFs). Children of GFs were the next least likely to identify as fully heterosexual. Children from IBFs were most likely of all family types to identify as entirely heterosexual.
I think that we need to think though the consequences of redefining marriage for all of the parties who are concerned, and one of those parties is definitely the children of gay fathers and lesbian mothers. Are they well served by redefining marriage? Should we be celebrating and affirming same-sex parenting as being equal to parenting in intact biological families?