The Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families (ACHESS), conducted by researchers at the University of Melbourne, collected information on 500 children under the age of 17 from 315 gay, lesbian and bisexual parents, around 80 percent of whom were women.
The research tested same-sex families on indicators such as emotional behaviour and self-esteem, with preliminary results suggesting only negligible differences between the group and the rest of the general population.
Lead ACHESS researcher Simon Crouch said early results indicated children of same-sex parent families were doing better than expected in surprising areas such as family cohesion and dealing with bullying and stigma.
“Because of the situation that same-sex families find themselves in, they are generally more willing to communicate and approach the issues that any child may face at school, like teasing or bullying. This fosters openness and means children tend to be more resilient,” Crouch told the Sydney Morning Herald.
While the findings are only preliminary and subject to further analysis, they seem to debunk long-held notions that children of same-sex parent families are more likely to be unhappy or unstable.
2011 census statistics record are 6,210 children living in same-sex parent families in Australia, although ACHESS suggested that was “a very conservative estimate” due to under-reporting and the nature of the classifications used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
While same-sex couples are often chosen as foster parents due to a lack of heterosexual couples in the foster care system, adoption is closed to same-sex families in all states except New South Wales, Western Australia and the ACT. South Australia and the Northern Territory do not allow LGBTI people to adopt children at all, even if they are single.
ACHESS is expected to release the first set of its final results in early 2014.