Home » News » Parenting » Gay Parents Have Well-Adjusted Kids

Gay Parents Have Well-Adjusted Kids

A new study suggests children of gay parents are not only psychologically healthy, but often appear to exhibit better social and academic adjustment and a significantly lower incidence of social problems than their peers.

An article published in the journal Family Process critically examines this research, and how it affects LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) families.

According to family therapist and social work professor Arlene Istar Lev, these excellent outcomes might be masking another sort of bias.

Lev has been working with LGBTQ families for nearly three decades, and suggests that “the underlying assumption of research on LGBTQ families has been premised on the idea that the children of gay and lesbian people will have unique challenges because of their parents’ sexual orientation.

“LGBTQ people have had to establish that they are good parents by raising children who are heterosexual and gender-normative, i.e., not like them.”

Lev says, “There is an assumption that the optimal outcome is to produce heterosexual children. I am questioning the heterosexism that pressures LGBTQ parents to prove their success as parents by producing heterosexual (read: normal) children. The research, steeped in heterosexist and heteronormative beliefs, assumes that if the children of LGBTQ people are gay or transgender themselves, it is a problem, a ‘failure’ revealing the ongoing bias against LGBTQ people.”

Although most children of LGBTQ parents are heterosexual, some are not – just like the children of heterosexual parents.

Lev suggests that social pressure to raise heterosexual and gender-typical children can put stress on LGBTQ families and oddly enough make it harder for gay kids with gay parents to get the support they need.

Lev says, “Gay parents (just like heterosexual parents) may struggle with having gay or transgender children, in part because they identify with the obstacles their children will face, and in part because of the societal pressure they feel to raise “normal” (read: straight) children.”

Lev suggests that LGBTQ parents, as a minority that have been oppressed and marginalized, have a unique ability to accept and nurture their children’s emerging selves — if they see their own identity as an advantage, instead of something to be overcome.

Lev says, “If it is okay to be gay than it has to be okay for the children of gay people to be gay also.”

Being reared in LGBTQ families creates certain “differences.” For example, same-sex parented families have unique social dynamics because there are two moms or two dads, and because the families are commonly formed differently than most heterosexual families (donor insemination, adoption, surrogacy).

Lev encourages researchers, family therapists, and society in general to celebrate the unique qualities that gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender parents bring to child rearing. Instead of pressuring gay parents to be “just like” straight parents, why not acknowledge and honor the differences?

Lev quips, “We need to stop saying that being LGBTQ has no influence on children’s identities; of course, it does. Maybe whatever it is that we are doing ‘differently’ is the reason our children are doing so well.”

Source: Wiley-Blackwell

Gay Parents Have Well-Adjusted Kids

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Gay Parents Have Well-Adjusted Kids. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 14 Sep 2010)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.