Study Finds Outcomes for Children in LGBTQ+ Families to Be the Same or Better as Outcomes for Children of Different-Sex Couples

NEW YORK, NY – This week a new report was released by BMJ Global Health examining outcomes between LGBTQ+ families and families headed by heterosexual couples. The report, a literature review and synthesis of dozens of academic articles about the children of same-sex couples (most published concerning U.S. families), found that outcomes were similar for children regardless of the LGBTQ+ identity of the children’s parents. In some cases, the research shows that children of LGBTQ+ parents experience even better outcomes than the children of different-sex parents. 

The authors write: 

“To our knowledge, this is the first systematic review to identify the disparities in family outcomes between sexual minority parent families and heterosexual parent families against the background of legal recognition of same-sex relationships. Contrary to many concerns, our review found most family outcomes were similar between these two family types, and sexual minority families have even better outcomes in some domains, such as child psychological adjustment and child-parent relationships.”

Key findings from the study include explorations into:

  • Psychological adjustment of children: The analysis found that children in LGBTQ+ families had better psychological adjustment. The authors explain: “This result is consistent with previous reviews and may be due to better preparedness in the face of strong anti-gay stigma related to sexual minority parent families, and therefore may have displayed greater adjustment difficulties.”
  • Parent-Child relationships: LGBTQ+ parents exhibited stronger results when it comes to parent-child relationship quality, including “higher levels of warmth, greater amounts of interaction and more supportive behaviour.”
  • Health outcomes among children of married v. cohabitating couples: Children in cohabiting households or single-parent families have poorer health outcomes than children in married households, regardless of LGBTQ+ identity of the parents. The authors write, “Legal marriage confers a host of protections and advantages to the couples who marry and to their children. These findings play an important role in health policy, improving child health outcomes.”

Stacey Stevenson (she/they pronouns), Chief Executive Officer of Family Equality, said today:

“Even in an increasingly hostile environment for LGBTQ+ families, this study underlines and reinforces what we’ve known for years: That LGBTQ+ parents are creating homes where their children can thrive. The research remains remarkably consistent and has found again and again that the children of LGBTQ+ couples experience similar life outcomes, including physical health experiences, psychological adjustment, and educational attainment, as the children of different-sex couples. LGBTQ+ people are woven into the fabric of society, are supporting their families in myriad ways, and are worthy of dignity and respect in every area of life.”

About Family Equality

Family Equality is creating a world where everyone can experience the love, safety, and belonging of family. As the leading national organization for current and future LGBTQ+ families, we work to ensure that everyone has the freedom to find, form, and sustain their families by advancing LGBTQ+ equality through advocacy, support, storytelling, and education.

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