The research paper by the Australian Institute of Family Studies – the federal government’s official family research body – involved analysing existing evidence and prior literature on the issues, both locally and from overseas.
The study noted that about 11 per cent of gay men and 33 per cent of lesbians have children and concluded that “research to date considerably challenges the point of view that same-sex parented families are harmful to children”.
The report’s author, Dr Deborah Dempsey from Swinburne University of Technology, said there was also some evidence suggesting that children raised by lesbian couples experienced “higher quality parenting”, with both sons and daughters displaying more open-mindedness towards sexual, gender and family diversity.
“Children in [same-sex parented] families do as well emotionally, socially and educationally as their peers from heterosexual couple families,” Dempsey said.
Gay Parents Australia chief executive Rebecca Madsen told the Star Observer the findings of the research paper would not be surprising to any LGBTI parent, as prior research already showed same-sex parented families were more likely to be open about their family structures.
“The sexuality of parents is largely irrelevant to the quality of parenting until those parents face discrimination from wider society because of their sexuality,” Madsen said.
“The best thing that can help LGBTI people to be fantastic parents is to raise our children in a wider society that is accepting and supportive of us as parents. So ironically, the well-being of children raised in same-sex parented families is heavily dependent on mainstream Australia being accepting and supportive of our family structures.”
“As well as having heard similar findings from previous studies, we, at PFLAG, see first- hand how dedicated same-sex parents can be in the upbringing of their children,” Brown said.
“We have gay dads as part of our membership, who are doing an outstanding job of bringing up their three children with the support of their extended family and many of our members have lesbian daughters in committed loving relationships, bringing up several children.
“Through our networking with other LGBTI organisations, we also know many of the now, grown up children of same-sex parents and find them all to be extremely well-adjusted, confident, tolerant and caring young people.”
Lobby group Australian Marriage Equality meanwhile said the release of the report had now “blown out of the water” one of the most-repeated objections to the introduction of marriage equality.
“It’s clear from this report that love is what makes a difference to children’s outcomes, not parental gender,” AME national director Rodney Croome said.
“The main argument against marriage equality – that children do best with a father and a mother – has been blown out of the water.
“There is now no excuse to refuse those children being raised by same-sex couples the benefits of having married parents.”
According to the report, continuing challenges for same-sex couples include the inequality of access to adoption and that children raised in same-sex parented families worry about being teased, harassed or bullied, particularly by peers at school.
INFO: Read the study in full here