The sexuality of a parent has no bearing on a child’s development or well-being, concludes a new Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby report, to be launched at Mardi Gras Fair Day this Sunday.
The report, Meet The Parents: A Review Of The Research On Lesbian And Gay Families, was commissioned by the Lobby last year and aims to educate the community, politicians and members of the judiciary about the realities of gay and lesbian parenting.
Lobby co-convenor Anth-ony Schembri welcomed the report, describing it as the first document to pull together all available research on gay and lesbian families.
It’s an invaluable resource in our lobbying work, he said. One of the difficulties we face in talking with politicians and opinion leaders is this constant idea that the children of gay and lesbian parents are socially disadvantaged in a whole gamut of areas. This report shows that this is clearly not the case, that the children of gay and lesbian families grow up in happy, healthy homes and they are just as adjusted as children from heterosexual and other family types.
Report author Jenni Millbank said the need for the report became clear last year during the Senate Inquiry into the review of the Sex Discrimination Act.
[The report of the inquiry] was a really big slap in the face for lesbians and gay men, she said. A great many witnesses to the inquiry said that lesbians and gay men make good parents and that there’s a lot of evidence to support that. The Christian right turned up with a couple of crazy pamphlets and at the end of the day the committee said there was lots of evidence both ways about lesbian and gay parenting. That’s just not true, so therefore the onus is on us to show in considerable detail why it’s not true.
Millbank said one of the most surprising findings of the report was the suggestion that in some ways lesbian parents surpassed heterosexual parents, specifically because of the greater equality, sharing and contribution in the relationship.
Among other surprising findings, the report estimates that the proportion of lesbians with children is between 15 and 20 percent, and is likely to increase over the next five years. The report suggests that as many as 10 percent of gay men are parents.
Schembri said that the report revealed that it was the processes within families and not their inherent structure that produced happy, healthy, well-adjusted children. It’s about whether there is care and support and love, not whether there are two parents of different gender, he said.
Meet The Parents will be launched by Dr Kerryn Phelps at 10:30am this Sunday in the Kidsland area of Victoria Park, as part of Mardi Gras Fair Day.