Homosexual Parents: All in the Family

Science News, January 21, 1995 | Go to article overview

Homosexual Parents: All in the Family


An increasing number of homosexual men and women in the United States raise children, whether as a result of artificial insemination, adoption, or winning custody of youngsters conceived during previous heterosexual relationships. Considerable social and legal controversy surrounds this, trend, much of it focused on whether homosexual parents can raise well-adjusted children.

Three new studies, published in the January Developmental Psychology, suggest that neither the absence of a father nor the presence of homosexual parents interferes with a child's emotional development. Moreover, a large majority of the sons of men who now classify themselves as homosexual are themselves heterosexual, contrary to popular notions that homosexual parents groom their offspring for a corresponding sexual orientation.

The latter finding comes from a study of 55 homosexual or bisexual men who reported the sexual orientation of their 82 sons age 17 or older. J. Michael Bailey, a psychologist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and his coworkers recruited the fathers through ads in homosexual publications and also contacted 43 of their sons. The sons' self-ratings of sexual orientation nearly always agreed with their fathers' ratings of them, so Bailey's group included in its analysis all of the fathers' ratings (except for those of seven men who were uncertain of their sons' sexual orientation).

Of the 75 sons included in the analysis, 7 (9 percent) were homosexual or bisexual. This proportion exceeds the 2 percent to 5 percent rate of homosexuality thought to occur in Western societies, but it falls far below levels of homosexuality found in male identical and fraternal twins (SN: 1/4/92, p.6). An inherited influence on sexual orientation may slightly boost the incidence of homosexuality in sons of homosexuals, the researchers propose.

Homosexual sons had not lived longer with their fathers than had heterosexual sons. …

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