MORE equally-shared parental responsibilities may be to thank for “above average” health and wellbeing in the children of same-sex parents despite the challenges of stigma, according to a new Australian study.

Researchers at the University of Melbourne found children living in families with same-sex parents scored six per cent higher on measures of general health and family cohesion than the general population.

Lead researcher Dr Simon Crouch from the University of Melbourne said cohesion in same-sex parent families could be contributing to the findings.

“It appears that same-sex parent families get along well and this has a positive impact on health,” he said.

We know that same-sex attracted parents are more likely to share child care and work responsibilities more equitably than heterosexual parent families, based more on skills rather than gender roles. This appears to be contributing to a more harmonious household and having a positive impact on child health.”

The results consolidate previous research based on the same data, input from 315 same-sex parents and 500 children in the Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families, the largest study of its kind in the world.

The study also focused on the impact on children of stigma and discrimination based on sexuality, finding an association between stigma and a negative impact on health and wellbeing. This was particularly an issue around healthcare settings, where perceived stigma could be a barrier to accessing services.

Crouch said the study identified both overt and more subtle forms of stigma and discrimination.

Stigma can be subtle, such as letters home from school addressed to Mr and Mrs. Or it can be overt and very harmful, in the form of bullying and abuse at school,” he said.

The study adds to a growing body of research on rainbow families, adding to evidence of the benefits of parenting by same-sex couples.

Earlier this year research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies found the children of same-sex couples do at least as well emotionally, socially and educationally as the children of heterosexual couples. Some evidence in that study even suggested the children of lesbian parents experienced “higher quality parenting”.

Crouch and others have pointed to the results of this latest study as evidence against using child welfare as a justification for objecting to marriage equality and same-sex couple adoption.

 

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