As Pride Month comes to an end, we would like to talk about the development of children living in same-sex and transgender families.
To do this, we are lucky to count Professor Susan Golombok as one of our experts. A pioneer in the subject, Professor Golombok has been studying since the 1970s if children living in lesbian mother families and gay father families are as well-adjusted as children growing up in different-sex families. More recently, she has also been studying children living in trans families.
What does her research find? All her studies demonstrate that children living in same-sex families do as well (as sometimes even better) than children living in different-sex families on a wide range of health, social, emotional, and academic outcomes. Children living in trans families tend to show the same outcomes, although it is important to note that research on these families is still quite limited.
Why might children living in same-sex families sometimes do better than children living in different-sex families? The path to become a parent is usually more difficult for same-sex parents because they often have to go through IVF, surrogacy, or adoption. The process is long and hard, and couples must be highly determined to have a child to persevere. Consequently, researchers believe that these parents tend to be very invested in their children. They give them a lot of time, dedication, and love, and these are the ingredients necessary for a child to thrive.
A question that often arises is whether children living in same-sex families will grow up to be gay or lesbian because they will identify with their parents. The evidence shows that children growing up in same-sex families are not more likely to be gay than children living in heterosexual families or those living in single-parent households.
Therefore, it seems that a child’s development has little to do with their parents’ gender identity or sexual orientation. What matters then? What matters is what happens within the family: Children need stable, loving, and harmonious families. Whether they are gay, transgender, or heterosexual.
There is, however, one important risk for children living in same-sex families: social stigmatisation. Although overt bullying towards these children has decreased in the recent past, low level stigmatisation is still quite prevalent. For example, using the word ‘gay’ in a pejorative way can be upsetting and harm children.
If you are interested in this topic, have a look at Professor Susan Golombok’s REC Parenting Masterclass, which gives lots of useful tips. If you have any comments, do not hesitate to drop us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. We love hearing from you!