Children of Same-Sex Partnerships "Healthier and Happier," Study Finds

A new study conducted by the University of Melbourne has found that children with same-sex parents are just as emotionally and physically sound as children of the general population—and are reported to be "healthier and happier" in some cases.

The study surveyed 315 same-sex parents (80% female and 18% male) with a total of 500 children across Australia. It looked at a spectrum of family contexts "from previous heterosexual relationships, to assisted reproductive technologies and same-sex co-parenting arrangements." (LGBT joint adoption is only available in four of the eight states in Australia, while individual LGBT adoption is fully legal in six.) The parents reported on various aspects of their children's health and mental wellbeing.

Researchers found that in general, children of same-sex partnerships do just about the same as children of the general population on most health categories like "emotional behavior and physical functioning." But the study also found that on average, children of same-sex partnerships scored 6% better in general health and family cohesion, "even when controlling for a number sociodemographic factors such as parent education and household income."

Lead researcher Dr. Simon Crouch attributes at least some of this to the lack of parental gender stereotypes. Via ABC.net.au:

"Previous research has suggested that parenting roles and work roles, and home roles within same-sex parenting families are more equitably distributed when compared to heterosexual families," he said.

"So what this means is that people take on roles that are suited to their skill sets rather than falling into those gender stereotypes, which is mum staying home and looking after the kids and dad going out to earn money.

"What this leads to is a more harmonious family unit and therefore feeding on to better health and wellbeing."

This is interesting because studies have shown that in heterosexual marriages and partnerships, gender stereotypes really affect children—daughters of households where parents share the chores are more likely to have more ambitious career aspirations. The study also looked at how social stigma affects children of same sex parents and found that "perceived stigma was negatively associated with mental health." Crouch described a range of stigma:

Stigma can be subtle, such as letters home from school addressed to Mr and Mrs. Or it can be overt and very harmful, in the form of bullying and abuse at school. The more stigma the family experienced, the greater the impact on the social and emotional well-being of the children.

Image via Getty.