LGBT Parenting Issues Pros and Cons

What's Covered

In recent years the LGBTQ+ community has gained recognition and the rights to marriage have been enacted in over 30 countries. But that does not mean they still do not face discrimination based on their sexual orientation, this becomes especially prevalent when a same sex couple chose to have a child. Same sex parents face additional barriers when it comes to becoming parents, as they biologically can not produce a child, and in recent years there have been numerous laws or restrictions preventing them from adopting.

Debunking The Myths

Being gay is a choice

A study done by a renowned Molecular Biologist and leader of the Institute of Molecular Medicine in Finland Andrea Ganna found that same sex relationships are a natural part in our development as a species. The scientific study collected the DNA of more the 470,000 people and found that the idea of a singular ‘gay gene’ was not necessary true. The study showed that there are a variety of genetic variations that can influence sexual behavior, meaning that being any lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, etc is not a choice.[1]

“It’s unnatural”

Heterosexual relationships are viewed as the “norm” or as “natural”, and anything outside of that is seen as a threat or ‘unnatural’. However numours studies have proven that same-sex relationships occur in over 450 animal species[2]. A research study proves that with an analysis of lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons judgments on different ways of creating families, demonstrating that becoming a parent had to do more with reproduction than love. 

They are unfit parents

The idea that because an individual is a part of the LGBTQ+ Community they can’t possibly be a fit parent, has no basis. Research has shown that there are very few differences between children raised by lesbian and gay parents vs those of heterosexual parents in the categories of self esteem, quality of life, psychological adjustment and social functioning.

Gender identity confusion

Research has completely disporven this belief, that children raised in same-sex parent families may be less gender-stereotyped. Researchers found that children with male role models were extremely similar in their growth and psychological adjustment to youth without male role models.[3]

Who produces better children heterosexual or homosexuals parents?

A recent study[4] has shown that same-sex parents tend to be better of in terms of wealth, age and education, compared to a heterosexual couple. The same sex couples also often have the finances to pay for expensive fertility treatments meaning that they are not only very eagar and willing to bring up a child, but they have the finances to invest a lot into the child.

The study continues to say that the children of same-sex couples tend to be on the same level as children of straight couples, this includes; mental health, social skills, academic performance and overall sucess in life. Essentially concluding that there is no differences between children raised heterosexual households compared to children raised in homosexual households. This study mostly focus on lesbian relationships, their isn’t much research on gay relationships.

According to a study done by Abbie Goldberg a psychologist and her team at Clark University of Massachusetts, examined all the studies to date on same sex vs different sex parenting.[5] They found that the only consistent and significant differences between the children of both types of parents is the child’s tolerance and open mindedness. The study found that children of gay parents are more open minded and less focused or held back by gender stereotypes than children raised in “traditional” households. Goldberg concluded that this is most likely because same sex relationships tend to split work evenly compared to same sex couples, where woman are still expected to cook, clean and do other house chores.

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Raising Good Humans: A Mindful Guide to Breaking the Cycle of Reactive Parenting and Raising Kind,...
This book does a great job with breaking generational cycles, and if you are a LGBT parent is it possible that you had issues with your family accepting you. This book teaches you to let go of the judgment of others and focus that attention on loving and raising your child to be confident, strong and independent.
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This Is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids
If you are a parent who is straight who has gay children, who are in same sex relationships and want children or just LGBT children, and you are struggling to accept or understand them this book is for you. It breaks down your personal prejudices and why you may feel this way towards the community and learn to let it go, for your child's sake. Love is love and accepting that is the best gift you can ever give your child; accepting them for who they truly are.

General Outcomes of Children

A study done in Italy[6] surveyed 70 gay fathers, 125 lesbian mothers and 195 heterosexual parents with children aged 3-11 years of age. The parents were asked to answer questions regarding their sexual orientation and their confidence in their parental abilities. The study revealed like most studies targeting to find the difference between the two different parents that children raised by same-sex parents are as emotionally, cognitively, socially and academically well as their peers growing up in heterosexual households. The study found that the only thing that hurt children of LGBTQ+ parents, was discriminatory actions by others.[7]

Social Outcome

The social development and growth of children raised by same sex parents is relatively similar to those raised in different sex households. A study done by Fedewa and Clark in 2012 studied children as young as 6 years old to adolescence and found no evidence or significant difference between the children growing up in different types of households.  A study done by Gartrell and Bos in 2010 found that that adolescents from same-sex parents have fewer issues in social settings compared to the national average sample of American young adults.[8] If anything children of same-sex individuals tend to do better in social settings.

Psychological Well-being

Studies done by Gartrell and Bos in 2010 found that children with ADHD/ADD, anxiety and depression had the same reporting in both same sex and different sex households. A study done by Wainright in 2004 found that female adolescents whether raised in same sex or different sex parents have fairly similar scores when it comes to depressive symptoms and self esteem. In the majority of studies regarding psychological adjustment of children, there is no difference between family types.

Academic Success

A recent study done by a handful of Professor of Economics at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven used government data in order to track all children born in the Netherlands from 1995 to 2005.[9] The data collected the children’s academic performance, familial income as well as the well being and relationship among the children and parents. The great part of this study is the large sample size used; 1,200 children whom were raised in a same-sex houshold and over 1 million children raised by different-sex couples. Researchers unveiling that gay and lesbian parents are often more equiped finacoally, academically and in terms of age to care for a child. That is most likely the reason why the study also found that children from same-sex households outperform their peers coming from heretosexual households. The study found that sociological and economic status does greatly influence the academic outcome of the child.

It was discovered that children raised by gay couples not only had higher test scores throughout elementary to secondary school but were also 7 percent more likely to graduate from high school.[10]

Health outcomes of a child

A study done in 2016 analyzed children’s health compared to parent stress.[11] Despite lesbian mothers having higher levels of stress, their children did not suffer in bad heath, emotional development, coping mechanisms, or learning strategies when compared to their peers from different sex parents, who generally got worse in each category. Meaning that other factors are at play when having negative effects on a child’s health. Studies have shown that lesbian mothers have concerns with their children growing up in non accepting social settings and therefore feel as tough they need to prove that their parenting is on par with their heterosexual counterparts. Resulting in mothers over stressing, but despite that, their children demonstrate no differences. Additionally the study found that children experienced fewer emotional difficulties when the parents reported a more positive relationship with one another, a more positive relationship with the child, and lower levels of parenting stress.[12]

Parent child relationships difference

Despite the stigma surrounding adoptive parents not being a “traditional or real” family, the data shows that same sex parenting supports family processes and in some cases even more strongly than their heterosexual counterparts.[13] Same-sex families have very good parent–child relationships recent study shows.[14]Same sex parents tend to have be extremely effective in their roles as parents and tend to be more psychologically adjusted compared to same sex heterosecual parents. It is very common that having a parent who is a part of the LGBT community could strengthen a child’s empathy toward diverse and marginalized groups.[15]

Ways LGBT couples become parents?

Their are many ways that same sex couples can becomes parents a few being; adoption, co-parenting (a planned, platonic parenting relationship), foster care, IVF with an embryo donor, reciprocal IVF (one partner carries the baby, the other is the egg donor), and so much more.[16] Here is everything you need to know about each of the options alongside a Pros and Cons list.

Adoption

Difference in Adoption

In 2020 UNICEF released disturbing data that showed that there are over 140 million[17] orphans in the world. The LGBT community is one of the largest groups to adopt and is unable in most countries in the world to get a child in need. Despite experts in the child psychology and social work collective agree that there is no evidence to suggest that same sex couples are detrimental to the development of a child. Dozens of organizations such as American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association and National Association of Social Workers[18] all support same sex couples to have the right to adopt, as children in the fostercare system deserve to go to a loving, nurturing couple that can provide a good future. One which the government is not able to provide. This barrier does not exist in a different sex relationship, straight couples can essentially adopt from anywhere where little to no restrictions.

Pros

Loving Home: Children in desperate need of a home receive loving and caring parents.

Through adoption, same sex couples get to experience the joy of bringing home their baby, and raising the child as their own. Adoption gives a child who is in desperate need of a loving and nurturing home, one. With adoption, it grants same sex couples the ability to become parents.

The gift of understanding and empathy: LGBT couples tend to be more accepting and tolerant of others’ differences, which is a large factor in being an understanding person. The  child will learn how to be better understanding towards others. Children with same sex parents often have a clear advantage when it comes to being more accepting of others’ differences, individuality and diversity.[19]

Cons

Discrimination or Judgement from other: In general more and more people are accepting of the LGBTQ+ community, there are of course who believe it to be a ‘unnatural’ or a ‘sin’. The children of same sex couples might encounter those unaccepting individuals but learn to turn a blind eye or stand up to it.

Assumptions about the child’s sexuality: Their has no scientific evedicence to suggest that LGBTQ+ adoptive families will ‘turn’ their children gay. Being raised in an same-sex family will not make a child gay, just like being raised in a different sex family doesn’t make a child straight.

Co-parenting

This parenting option involves two people who agree to conceive and raise a child together, but they are not in a relationship. It is possible that each person in the agreement has a partner and therefore possible that the child will grow up with more than two parents. In the case of same sex couples, if a lesbian couple is friends with a gay couple and both parties decide to have a child together, they would parent the child together that would be co-parenting.

Pros

It’s Cheaper: Being a parent is extremely expensive, but when you split the childcare cost it becomes a lot easier on everyone.

More Support: Co-parenting allows for a support network, there are multiple people whom you trust with your child. Having your parents look after a child is not always an option due to old age, out of country or family rifts. Baby sitters are expensive and not always trustworthy.

There is a Work/Life Balance: Parents will benefit from time to focus on their activities outside their child’s life; chores, sleep, exercise, socialization, hobbies, etc. In the end the parent will give their child their full and undivided attention.

Cons

Comprises: Whether between two parents, or three, or four. Compatible personalities among those in this partnership is key for it to work. If temperaments are in sync, then this should be a non-issue.

Different Homes: The back and forth may not be convenient for everyone. [20]

Foster care

Fostering a child meaning to take care of a child for when their families can take care of them. Meaning it’s temporary, but some parents tend to stay informed about the child and their life after they are no longer their legal guardian. Same-sex parents are huge care givers in the foster care system as studies show that they are six times more likely to foster a child compared to their straight counterparts.[21] Even though in the US there are roughly 450,000[22] children in the foster care system, there is continuously a ban or restrictions on same-sex couples receiving a child.

Pros

Helping children that need a home: It is very unfortunate but there are a lot of unfit parents usually due to being extremely young, substance abuse or mental illness. These people’s children often end up in the foster care system, these children need a loving home. If you are able to provide it, that is a very kind and selfless thing to do

Adoption: If you can’t have children of your own this is a way to expand your family. Keep in mind that it is important to have some sort of relationship with the birth parent, if possible. Also keep in mind that reunification is the court’s goal. So it is very possible that you will have a child for years and then they will be taken away from you.

Cons

Social workers lie: Put more in another way they leave out information as they need to find homes for hundreds of displaced children. Unfortunately a lot of these children have issues due to what they experienced earlier in life so most of the time they don’t give you all the facts, because they know that if you even knew half you wouldn’t want to bring that child into your home.

Behavior issues: Children who grow up with their birth parents and are not in the foster care system usually have a normal childhood. Unfortunately children from the foster care system don’t have one, many of these children experience things no child should see or do, resulting in inappropriate and uncontrollable behavior.

Doctor’s visits: The children need full examinations to determine any health issues or what has been done to these kids so you can get them the proper care. A lot of  kids have major health issues or mental problems and require many trips to physicians.

Leaving your home: Many foster families close their houses after a few children leave, because you get attached. Unfortunately the former foster parent is not allowed to have any further contact or information on the child. It hurts to see a child whom you raised, cared for, and loved be taken from you. In most cases they are put back to their unfit parents, and are brought back to the unsafe situation they were originally taken from. [23]

IVF

When deciding to go with In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and artificial insemination very briefly IVF is the process of fertilizing an egg and combining it with sperm outside the woman’s uterus. Then it is monitored and prepares the woman’s body for pregnancy, removing an ova from the woman’s ovaries and fertilizing the sperm and egg in a laboratory. When same sex couples go through this process they either need a sperm or egg donner, is the question becomes whether to know your donor or for it to be anonymous.

You know your donor

Pros

Deeper history: you are in direct contact with the donor therefore you know a larger picture than the one on the page. You may ask questions directly.

Child’s identity: The child will have a healthy understanding of his biological parent, as well as can choose to have a relationship.

Cons

Change of heart: there might be an issue or change causing a rift in the co-parenting relationship.

Anonymous donor

Pros

No Co-Parenting: If you want it to be your child, the other biological parent to be not involved in the life of the child, this is the option for you.

Cons

No possibility for communication: You will not be able to ask questions and in the future nor will your child.

Final Thoughts

Becoming a parent is a huge decision, LGBT parents face more challenges than their straight counterparts. Many countries do not recognize same-sex marriage however the world is changing and hopefully legalization of marriage and adoption will be the new norm decades from now. The possible judgement of others however should not discourage you from embarking on parenthood because it truly is one of the most rewarding things in life.


[1] Ennis, Dawn, “Top Three Benefits of ‘Intentional Co-Parenting’ for Gay Men & Couples.” Gay Parenting, 2020.

[2] Pralat, Robert. “Home – PMC – NCBI.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2018.

[3] Research Report on LGB-Parent Families.” Williams Institute, July 2014.

[4] Bryner, Jeanna. “Children Raised by Lesbians Do Just Fine, Studies Show.” LiveScience, Purch, 8 Feb. 2010.

[5] Pappas, Stephanie. “Gay Parents Better Than Straight Parents? What Research Shows.” HuffPost, 16 Jan. 2012.

[6] Baiocco , Roberto, et al. “Same-Sex and Different-Sex Parent Families in Italy: Is Parents’ Sexual Orientation Associated with Child Health Outcomes and Parental Dimensions?” Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics : JDBP, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 28 Sept. 2018.

[7] PERSIO , SOFIA LOTTO. “Think of the Children? They’re Doing Just Fine with Same-Sex Parents, Study Indicates.” PinkNews, 26 June 2019.

[8] Manning, Wendy, et al. “Child Well-Being in Same-Sex Parent Families: Review of Research Prepared for American Sociological Association Amicus Brief.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Aug. 2015.

[9] De Witte, Kristof, and Deni Mazrekaj. “School Outcomes of Children Raised by Same-Sex Parents: Evidence from Administrative Panel Data – Deni Mazrekaj, Kristof De Witte, Sofie Cabus, 2020.” SAGE Journals, 28 Sept. 2020.

[10] Long, Heather. “Children Raised by Same-Sex Couples Do Better in School, New Study Finds.” National Post, 6 Feb. 2019.

[11] Bos , H, et al. “Same-Sex and Different-Sex Parent Households and Child Health Outcomes: Findings from the National Survey of Children’s Health.” PMC, Dec. 2018.

[12] Manning, Wendy, et al. “Child Well-Being in Same-Sex Parent Families: Review of Research Prepared for American Sociological Association Amicus Brief.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Aug. 2015.

[13] Farr, Rachel. “Does Parental Sexual Orientation Matter? A Longitudinal Follow-Up of Adoptive Families With School-Age Children.” Developmental Psychology, 2016.

[14] Calzo, Jerel. “Parental Sexual Orientation and Children’s Psychological Well-Being: 2013–2015 National Health Interview Survey.” PMC, 2019.

[15] Farr, Rachel, and Cassandra Vázquez. “Stigma Experiences, Mental Health, Perceived Parenting Competence, and Parent–Child Relationships Among Lesbian, Gay, and Heterosexual Adoptive Parents in the United States.” Frontiers, 26 Feb. 2020.

[16] Gurevich, Rachel. “How to Have a Baby and Build Your Family When You Identify as LGBTQ.” Verywell Family, 5 Feb. 2021.

[17] Nar, Cansu. “2020 Orphan Report.” INSAMER English, 13 May 2020.

[18] Averett, Paige, et al. “An Evaluation of Gay/Lesbian and Heterosexual Adoption.” Taylor & Francis, 2009.

[19] Legasse, Jason. “The Pros and Cons of LGBT Adoption.” Placing Baby for Adoption in Kansas and Missouri, 8 June 2020.

[20] “Top Three Benefits of ‘Intentional Co-Parenting’ for Gay Men & Couples.” Gay Parenting, 29 Sept. 2020.

[21] Fatovic, Ivan. “Starting A Family as a Same Sex Couple.” Modamily, 2020.

[22] “About the Children.” AdoptUSKids, 2020.

[23] Red, Pamela. “Pros And Cons Of Being A Foster Family – WeHaveKids – Family.” WeHaveKids, 16 Apr. 2017.

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Author

Diana Lucas

Diana Lucas

Hi, Diana here. Welcome to my blog and hope you like my sharing. I am a mother of 2 boys, 3 years old and a 1 year old. I dedicate my career in child development research and I focus on parenting tips, positive parenting, educational toys for my babies. Your time here means a lot to me! Diana A. Lucas

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