Since 1986, researchers working on something called the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS) have been following the children of lesbian moms to see how they fared. This week, the results were published in the (rather unfortunately named) Journal of Homosexuality.
What the researchers discovered was that, overall, the children were doing extremely well. Not only were they excelling in school, but most had close relationships with their parents and siblings. Additionally, the kids tended to see their moms as good role models, were open with others about the make-up of their families, and had a lot of friends. And what they weren't doing--namely getting in trouble with the law or dropping out of school--was pretty positive as well.
And that's just looking at them on their own. Compared to the average American teen, the children of lesbians sound even more impressive! As the authors of the study write, "At the age of 17, the NLLFS offspring were rated significantly higher in social, school and academic, and total competence, and significantly lower in social problems, rule-breaking, aggressive, and externalizing problem behavior than an age-matched normative sample of American youth."
When I asked my lesbian mom friend, Aviva, if she was surprised by these findings, she immediately said no. "You just have a better shot at being a good parent if you really want to do it," she told me. Her partner, Farrah added, "A lot of women are raised to be nurturing and caretakers, so when you have two people like that, there's a lot of focus on the child."
But while the positive outcome might seem self-evident to lesbian moms (or to anyone who has hung out with them or their kids), there are still plenty of people out there who hand-wring at the thought of same-sex couples as parents.
One of those hand-wringers is none other than, Mitt Romney, the man who wants to be the 45th president of the United States.
Throughout the presidential campaign, Romney has been vocal about his opposition towards gay marriage. This is something he has long had a beef with, since despite his objections, same sex unions were legalized in Massachusetts by the state's Supreme Judicial Court while he was serving as governor. The presidential hopeful has also been clear about his hostility towards gay parenting, something he has a demonstrated track record of opposing.
As Murray Waas reports in the Boston Globe, soon after Massachusetts legalized gay marriage, Romney rejected a plan by the state Registry of Vital Records and Statistics to revise its birth certificate forms so that the box for “father” would now read “father or second parent.’’ Waas writes,
"Romney’s interventions mostly resulted in delays awarding birth certificates for women married to same-sex partners who gave birth. Gay men seeking parental rights were required to take a different route, by obtaining a court order. By law, birth certificates must be issued within 10 days of birth, and in some instances, those deadlines were not met. As a result, gay women attempting to obtain birth certificates for their children could encounter delays, while gay men seeking parental rights sometimes had to obtain them by court order."
This particular issue has long been rectified. But the fact is, plenty of people back these types of measures and the misguided views that drive them. And these views are definitely misguided! For example, various organizations, including the Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage recycle the false claim that gay parents are more likely to molest their children than are straight parents. Others turn to the old, "Children need a mom and a dad." And while these folks clearly haven't taken much stock in the research debunking such assumptions, it is crucial that this research exists.
It is also crucial that more research, like the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study, continues to be produced. Because even though the findings might seem obvious to those being studied and to their supporters (Jezebel titled a post on the study: No Fucking Duh, Lesbians Make Great Parents. Queerty's read: Lesbians Make Great Parents, World Is Round), it sure isn't obvious to an awful lot of the country.
Related: Hey Conservatives - Gays Are Better Parents Than You