A new study on gay parenting shows that gay and lesbian couples make parents equally as good or better than heterosexuals.
The national study was conducted by Suzanne Johnson, associate professor of psychology at Dowling College in Oakdale, N.Y. She examined 415 lesbian and gay parents raising children across America.
Nanette Silverman, one of the researchers working with Johnson said, “The data suggests
lesbian and gay parents are more responsive, child-oriented and egalitarian” than heterosexual parents.
The study found that the lesbian women, on average, had been together 10 years and had a 5-year-old child, while the gay men had been together 13 years and had a 6-year-old child.
Both groups tended to be highly educated, with just under half having obtained graduate degrees. About one third of the couples lived in urban areas, nearly one-half lived in the suburbs and the rest lived in rural areas.
The research showed that gay fathers found their anticipation of negative experiences had been worse than the reality, while lesbian mothers reported experiencing negative feedback.
“Gay and lesbian parents are functioning quite well,” Silverman said. “Sexual orientation is totally irrelevant.”
Silverman said there was one major difference between gay and straight parents. Only 15 percent of the gay and lesbian parents reported using physical methods as a way to discipline their children. The majority relied instead upon discussion and reasoning. By comparison, 60 percent or more of heterosexual parents reported using physical methods to discipline their children.
Silverman said the use of physical discipline has been associated with giving children lower levels of self-esteem.