Homosexual Parents

By Cameron, Paul; Cameron, Kirk | Adolescence, Winter 1996 | Go to article overview

Homosexual Parents


Cameron, Paul, Cameron, Kirk, Adolescence


How do children fare when raised by a homosexual? Sharply different views are held by traditional and pre-1973 psychiatric opinion as compared to recent professional literature. Common opinion holds that, like drug use, homosexuality is a learned pathology passed from generation to generation by modeling and seduction (Levitt & Klassen, 1974). Contagion was the theory of choice for many years (e.g., "it is vain to blind oneself to the fact that the problem of male homosexuality is in essence the problem of the corruption of youth by itself and by its elders. It is the problem of the creation by means of such corruption of new addicts ready to corrupt a still further generation of young men and boys in the future" (Rees & Usill, 1956, p. 29). Most people believe that children of homosexuals are apt to acquire parental sexual proclivities as well as being subject to additional sexual harm (Bigner & Bozett, 1989). As a consequence, homosexuals, until recently, have been prevented from adopting or foster-parenting.

Recent professional literature and opinion, however, stresses the irrelevance of parental homosexuality. A review article on lesbian parenting by Falk (1989) in the American Psychologist, complained that courts "often have assumed that their children are likely to be emotionally harmed, subject to molestation, impaired in gender role development, or themselves homosexual. None of these assumptions is supported by extant research and theory" (p. 941). Further, "there is no evidence either that homosexual parents are more likely to seduce or allow their children to be seduced than their heterosexual counterparts or that lesbian mothers or their acquaintances molest children more often than heterosexual individuals. However, research on the point is scant" (p. 944). And "research on the sexual orientation of children of lesbian mothers does not confirm the 'contagion' assumption inherent in so many court decisions" (p. 946). And, "it is important to note that no research has identified significant differences between lesbian mothers and their heterosexual counterparts or the children raised by these groups. Researchers have been unable to establish empirically that detriment results to children from being raised by lesbian mothers" (p. 946).

Similarly, a review of research on homosexual fathers stated that "[t]here is no evidence of any kind that demonstrates that living with a homosexual parent has any significant negative effects on children. In fact, it appears that gay parents are as effective and may be even more so in some ways than nongay parents" (Bigner & Bozett, 1989). Bozett (1989) contended that "[t]here is no evidence whatsoever that children reared in households in which one or both adults is homosexual are in any way at harm, either physically or psychologically." The American Psychological Association accepts the thrust of these conclusions so sufficiently, it provided expert testimony to that effect in the joint adoption of a boy through artificial insemination by male homosexual partners in the District of Columbia in 1992 (Washington Blade, 6/19/92). More importantly, the American Psychological Association joined the National Association of Social Workers in an amici curiae brief in Bottoms v. Bottoms, November 15, 1993, in which the APA asserted that: "the belief that a child raised in a household with a lesbian or gay parent is more apt to become lesbian or gay is without any basis in fact" (p. 23); "the research suggests that lesbian mothers have parenting skills that are equivalent to or better than those of heterosexual parents" (p. 12); and "there is no social science evidence that even suggests that lesbian or gay parents are more likely to sexually abuse their children, or to allow them to be molested by others" (p. 13).

Does the existing research warrant such strong statements as "no evidence," "no evidence of any kind," "without any basis in fact," "no social science evidence that even suggests" and "no evidence whatsoever? …

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