Same Sex Parenting


What is Parenting?

*The Oxford English dictionary says that parenting is "the activity of being a parent; the rearing of a child or children; (with modifying word) the manner in which a parent raises a child," (2011).

*Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law says that a parent is someone who is one of the progenitors of a child, or who acts and takes on the responsibilities of a parent in raising a child (2011).

*Both dictionaries give a definition equivalent to "the rearing of children." This steps aside from the biological relationship and gives a more complete definition. It is the process in which the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child are promoted from infancy to adulthood. Most often, this is done by biological parents; however, one doesn't need to be a biological parent to "parent" a child.

Alternative Parent Groups:

There are many alternative types of parents than the “ideal” biological mother – biological father type besides same-sex parents:


Parent – Step-parent

Adoptive Parents

Siblings as Parents

Distant Relatives as Parents






Foster Parents

Orphanages/"The System"

Many of these types of parents are missing either one or both biological parent, and many of them are missing one of the “two” genders that people argue are integral to a child’s development. There is little or no stigmatization associated with these types of parents. Very little literature is written about them with reference to those types of problems, though there are many studies done about various problems associated with these types of family groups. For example, there was a study conducted on children raised by their grandparents in order to negate the high risk for adverse outcomes seen in this type of family group (Edwards & Taub, 2009). There are multiple studies about single-parents, about foster families, and about children raised in the system, that base their studies on the idea that children are more likely to have problems in these types of environments and they would like to find or better tune ways that counteract, fix, or otherwise alleviate those problems. Despite all these known problems, no one has tried to outlaw single-parenthood, adoption, foster parenthood, or any of the other alternative parent groups mentioned above. The only alternative group singled out for stigmatization appears to be that of same-sex couples (as evidenced by the media and pop culture of our time, as well as by huge gap betweeen the number of studies conducted on alternative parent groups and conducted on same-sex couples).


Perceived Problems with Children:

‍‍Fears of the Courts

There are three specific fears expressed by the courts concerning the effects of having gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered parents on the children they raise.
-There are worries that the development of sex identity will be impaired among the children: that
. - the children will show disturbances in gender behavior and/or gender identity.
. - they will ultimately become lesbian or gay, based off of the exposure to these type of environments.‍
- The court fears that aspects of children's personal development are at risk, other than sex identity: that
. - children in lesbian or gay homes may be more vulnerable to mental breakdowns.
. - the children in these types of homes will be less psychologically healthy than other children.
. - they will experience more behavioral and adjustment problems.
- The court is concerned that children may experience difficulties in social relationships; it fears that
. - these children will be stigmatized, teased, or otherwise victimized by peers.
. - children are more likely to be sexually abused by a parent, by a parent's friends, or by a parent's acquaintances (Patterson, 2002).

Concerns of Heterosexuals in Society:

Many heterosexuals make judgments toward same sex parenting practices, based off of their own preconceptions about what makes a parent.
- There is a strong belief that children must obtain both maternal and paternal guidance.
- Many couples believe that kids are more likely to be “queer”, when they are raised by same sex parents.
- They assume that children from same sex families have problems determining their gender-role in society.
- Many "know" that children from lesbian or gay families are more likely to be sexually abused.
- They fear that the stress of adoption and the difficulty caused by laws pertaining to gay adoption may cause mental health issues in same-sex parents.
- They fear that "since sexual minorities lack social support," parents of the same sex experience more mental health issues while in the process of their transition into parenthood.
-There is a widespread acceptance of the "fact" that, while exceptions occur, the normal upbringing of a child is the responsibility of the mother and father. To legally allow adoption by heterosexual couples encourages an unnatural upbringing (Jones, 2000).

While the law should not penalize gay relationships, it follows with these preconceptions in supporting the nuclear family as the ideal for child raising. Just as the practices of married couples being taxed differently, and unmarried mothers being highly at risk for cuts in their welfare, the legal prohibition of adoption by gays is a natural step towards this ideal (Goldberg & Smith, 2011).

What the Law Says:

-There are merely nine states that have permitted openly gay or lesbian individuals or couples to adopt, as of April, 2000. In addition, selected joint adoptions have been successful; the most common practice is for an individual to apply as the legal adoptive parent of the child. The couple who together want guardianship of the child can then apply for an additional parent or co-parent, adoption (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2000).

How Children Fair in Actuality with Same-Sex Parents:

-Research finds that the growth, adjustment and well- being of the children among gay and lesbian parents is not noticeably different from that of children with heterosexual parents (Meezan, 2005).
-The American Psychological Association has in the past years conducted about 67 studies dealing with children raised by gay parents. Each study showed the same results. Children with heterosexual parents and children with homosexual parents turned out the same… no better, no worse. The sexual orientation of a parent has no relation to the child's social development or mental health.
-COLAGE (Children Of Lesbians And Gays Everywhere) is an organization that specifically supports children and adults with LGBT parents. This organization gives the community local support and activities for children with LGBT parents and families. Some activities include youth leadership and activism programs, pen pal programs, and professional training (Johnson, 2011).
-The only statistically reliable difference between the two groups
- that those with same-sex parents felt a greater sense of connection to those at school
- favored the children living with same-sex couples (Patterson, 1992).
-One study shows that gay couples are actually better for children of racial minorities, such as children of color, as they already have the necessary tools their children will need in this world of prejudices and stereotypes (Ausbrooks & Russell, 2011).
-The only thing that holds more gay couples back from being parents is the acceptance or dismissal of their own families and communities,many of them are subject to believing the same stereotypes perpetuated by society (especially males). They don't even attempt to become parents because they don't believe that they can. (Tornello, Farr, & Patterson, 2011). Society is the only thing that can cause children of gay parents more problems than a "normal" heterosexual parent could.

LGBT Video Links

Statistics Across America


This map of the United States shows same-sex couples per 1,000 households by county. It is clear from the above chart that there are more same-sex couples per household on the east coast. However, seeing that this chart does not take into consideration, the couples that do not actually live together, we can conclude that this chart doesn't accurately represent the total number of same-sex couples observed in American culture. Overall same-sex couples within a household are more common in America than what one may think.

(Census Bureau Releases Estimates of Same-Sex Married Couples, 2011)

*The chart above indicates the number of same-sex couples, same-sex couples per 1,000 households, and the percent of these couples that are raising children per state. Out of all 50 states in America, the area of Washington, D.C. has the highest number of same-sex couples per household. For the size of the D.C area it has a significant amount of same sex couples at 4,822. As for the number of same-sex couples per household they have about 10 more than any other state in America. As Washington, D.C is known as a state with many ethnical backgrounds, it is not surprising.


Ausbrooks, A. R., & Russell, A. (2011). Gay and lesbian family building: A strengths perspective of transracial adoption. Journal of GLBT Family Studies, 7(3), 201-216.doi: 10.1080/1550428X.2011.56493

Census Bureau Releases Estimates of Same-Sex Married Couples. (2011, Septemeber 27). Retrieved October 2011, from U.S. Census Bureau.

Charlotte J. Patterson, P. (2002). American Psychological Association. Retrieved 2011, from Children of Lesbian and Gay Parents: [[]]

Edwards, O. W., & Taub, G. E. (2009). A conceptual pathways model to promote positive youth development in children raised by their grandparents. School Psychology Quarterly, 24(3), 160-172. doi:10.1037/a0016226

Goldberg, A. E., & Smith, J. Z. (2011). Stigma, Social Context, and Mental Health: Lesbian and Gay Couples Across the Transition to Adoptive Parenthood. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 139-150.

Jones, E. (2000). Adoption of children by same sex couples.Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law. (n.d.). Retrieved October 25, 2011, from

Parent. (2011). In Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Retrieved November 6, 2011

Parenting. (2011). In Oxford Enblish Dictionary (Third ed.). Retrieved December 2, 2011

Patterson, C. (1992, October). Children of lesbian and gay parents [Electronic version]. Child development, 63(5), 1025-1042. Retrieved October 13, 2011, from

Pennington, J., & Knight, T. (2011). Through the lens of hetero-normative assumptions: Re-thinking attitudes towards gay parenting. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 13(1), 59-72.

Tornello, S. L., Farr, R. H., & Patterson, C. J. (2011). Predictors of parenting stress among gay adoptive fathers in the United States. Journal of Family Psychology, 25(4), 591-600.doi:10.1037/a0024480

W.E Adams. (2000). Child Welfare Information Gateway. Retrieved 2011, from U.S Department of Health and Human Services:

Meezan, W., & Rouch, J. (2005). Gay marriage, same-sex parenting , and America's children. Future of Children, 15(2). Retrieved October 20, 2011, from