Another day, another study on same-sex parenting. If multiple studies have already confirmed that children of same-sex parents are fine and well, why do these studies keep happening? This just in: Children of same-sex parents are no different than children of heterosexual parents. However, year after year, these reports keep coming up, which would be fine were they not all nearly identical in their results.
Every time I scroll past one of these articles, I feel a brief moment of joy—see, we were right all along, we make fine parents! But then the moment passes, and I think, “this again?” Not only are these studies (and results) published on the regular, the release of the 2010 movie The Kids Are All Right has led almost each and every subsequent study to borrow the title, either in full or in part. (Side note: While it was nice to see a family drama featuring lesbian moms on the big screen, the movie was problematic in many ways. But that’s a discussion for another time.)
Having read most of these studies, I see there are some pragmatic reasons why these reports are coming out now. Some began research decades ago, with end results only just now available; some exist (particularly in the U.S.) in opposition to claims that all children need a mother and father to be stable; and some revisit older studies where flaws have since been found in the method of research. (For example, one research team realized that most of their subjects’ lesbian mothers had previously—during their children’s lifetimes—been in heterosexual partnerships that had since dissolved, and that had an impact on the study.)
Over the years, these studies reveal not only that the kids are “all right” but that they excel in many areas: They’re more tolerant of others, happier, have good self-esteem, and rate higher on test scores and overall health.
This Bustle article sums it up best: “A new study has confirmed that children of same-sex parents are not negatively impacted. Or, more specifically, contrary to what homophobes would like you to think, kids of same-sex parents ‘experience no difference on a range of social and behavioural outcomes compared to children of heterosexual or single parents.’ I can’t say this is breaking news, but maybe now we can just accept this for the fact that it is, let gay couples get hitched, and move forward as a society? Maybe?”
I think some of these results are tricky to analyze as it’s possible that because same-sex couples’ parenting is always called into question, they end up working even harder than they might otherwise to prove their capability.We know nothing about the same-sex couples involved in the studies and, like heterosexual people, not all gay people are the same.
Ultimately, though, I question why these studies keep occurring, and why these questions are constantly asked. No one conducts time-consuming, costly studies to verify if straight couples can raise children—the very suggestion would seem absurd. Will queer parents ever reach this point, or will we always be made to keep proving ourselves? If it’s been done, and the results are not terribly interesting, can’t we just point people to the zillion already-existing articles rubber-stamping the all right-ness of kids raised by same-sex parents?
Writing this, I don’t want to appear ungrateful. I realize I live in a country where marriage and adoption are legal for gay and lesbian people, and where same-sex couples can access fertility treatments. (How they are treated is another topic, not always consistent with the laws. And gay men are still banned from donating sperm, so it’s not all sunny for same-sex couples up here in Canada.) I know others are still fighting for these rights and could use all the evidence they can get to back their case.
Still, when there are big breaking news stories on whether or not heterosexual couples are good parents, please call me.
Tara-Michelle Ziniuk is a Toronto-based queer mom to a four-year-old. She started off as a single-mom-by-choice, and now co-parents. You can read more of her posts here and follow her on Twitter @therealrealTMZ.