Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Who's Raising The Kids?


Another guest post by Dana


A controversial study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, concluded that children raised in lesbian households were psychologically well-adjusted and had fewer behavioral problems than their peers. (An overview of the study and Journal Reference can be found [HERE])

The study followed 78 lesbian couples who conceived through sperm donations and assessed their children's well-being through a series of questionnaires and interviews.

Dr. Nanette Gartrell started the study in 1986. She recruited subjects through announcements in bookstores, lesbian events and newspapers throughout metro Boston, Massachusetts; San Francisco, California, and Washington.

She interviewed the mothers during their pregnancy or during the insemination process, and again when the children were 2, 5, 10 and 17 years old (the children in the study are now 18 to 23 years old).

The children were interviewed four times throughout their childhood and completed an online questionnaire that focused on their psychological adjustment, peer and family relationships and academic progress at age 17.

Dr. Gartrell used the Child Behavior Checklist, a commonly used standard to measure children's behavioral and social problems, to assess their well-being.

Not only did the children of lesbian couples fare well, they actually rated higher in social, academic and total competence and showed lower rates in social, rule-breaking and aggressive problem behavior.

So why the controversy? Funding for the research came from several lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy groups (i.e. the Gill Foundation and the Lesbian Health Fund from the Gay Lesbian Medical Association).

Here's my take on this. I can see two glaring issues with this study:

  1. It was a very small and specific sample group - only 78 couples and only lesbians who were artificially inseminated.
  2. Results of the Child Behavior Checklist were compared to national norms rather that with a comparative sample group - heterosexual couples who used artificial insemination to have children.
Is special interest group funding a concern? I don't think so. Special interest groups fund all kinds of studies. As a researcher, personal integrity is always on the line, no matter who funds a study.

I cannot look at the funding of this study and come to the conclusion that Wendy Wright, president of the Concerned Women for America (a group that supports biblical values) did - "This study was clearly designed to come out with one outcome -- to attempt to sway people that children are not detrimentally affected in a homosexual household."

I'm also not willing to look at the results of this study and decide that all children should be raised by lesbian couples since the study shows they score higher in social, academic and total competence behaviors and showed lower rates in social, rule-breaking and aggressive problem behaviors.

What I take away from this study is that children growing up in a loving, 2-parent family, where the pregnancy is planned, will likely do better than children born into much different circumstances ... no matter if their parents are heterosexual or homosexual.

What do you think?



Karen said...

Your last paragraph sums it up for me. Planned pregnancy in 2 parent home where there family is affluent enough to afford fertility treatments. That speaks more to me than the sexual habits of the parents.

Jay said...

I agree with you and Karen. Wait! Did I just say that out loud?? haha

I think home stability and planning on having a family is always going to result in more well-adjusted and happy kids. Whether the parents are gay, straight, swingers, whatever doesn't matter. If they're committed to being parents, then that's what matters.

Dana said...

Karen, I think it's unfortunate that there are people out there who want to throw away all of the data because it was funded by a special interest group. This study speaks loudly to the importance of planning, parenting and socio-economic status. It also tells me that when those things are equal, sexual orientation is really not an issue at all.

Jay, *marks day on calendar to be celebrated annually* Does this mean hell is freezing over and the Cubs will win a World Series the same year that the Bears win a Super Bowl? I agree ... that's probably pushing it!

we're doomed said...

What you said. Out of the mouth of "babes" comes words of wisdom. LOL

Vinny "Bond" Marini said...

LOVED your last paragraph, because that is the thing I had in my brain...

If you have a loving home...if the child was wanted by BOTH parents...then they will fit into society

Love your take on this

Phfrankie Bondo said...

...Vinny took the words out of my mouth...