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01May06d Parents & children 

Parents' sexual orientation matters, study finds

By Sarah Tippit, Reuters

LOS ANGELES, April 27 (Reuters) - Children raised by homosexual couples have different attitudes toward gender roles and sexual preferences than children raised by heterosexuals, according to a University of Southern California analysis of studies on the subject published this week.

USC sociologists Timothy Biblarz and Judith Stacey examined 21 studies on the subject dating back to 1980 and found that children of lesbians and gays are more likely to depart from traditional gender roles than children of heterosexual couples. Their findings were published in the American Sociological Review. In an interview on Friday, Biblarz said that the study found that information on the subject had previously been stifled and the differences played down.

"Social research hasn't been fully free to explore differences among children. Research has been stifled and researchers have downplayed almost any finding of difference at all between children raised in gay and lesbian families versus straight families. Unfortunately, this produces a consequence in the science arena of not advancing knowledge," he said.  "One of the things we are calling for in the paper is that sometimes a difference really is a difference and we ought to be exploring them and acknowledging them," Biblarz added.

 Biblarz said there were some modest "but very interesting differences ... as we would expect there should be." For example, he said, teenage boys with homosexual parents were more sexually restrained then their counterparts who were raised by heterosexual couples. And boys raised by lesbian couples exhibited less aggressive and more nurturing social behavior then boys raised in heterosexual families.

On the other hand, teenage girls showed an opposite trend. Girls raised by lesbians gravitated towards less stereotypically feminine dress, play and occupations, Biblarz said.


Teenage girls raised by lesbians also appeared to be more sexually adventurous and less chaste than girls raised by heterosexuals. The study also showed that more children from homosexual households gravitated towards same-sex relationships although they were not statistically more likely to identify themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

There seemed to be no difference in the mental and emotional health of children based on whether their parents were homosexual or heterosexual, or in the quality of the parent-child relationships, the analysis said.

"They are doing extremely well," Biblarz said. "There's no evidence that in terms of their adjustment and development and well being ... that kids (from homosexual families) are suffering greater harm." He added that, "Children brought up by lesbians and gay men are well adjusted, have good levels of self esteem, are as likely to have high educational attainments as children raised in more traditional heterosexual families.

Biblarz said the USC study focused mainly on children raised by lesbians, because fewer studies of co-fathers exist. He added that there seemed to be advantages to lesbian over heterosexual parenting in that co-mothers tend to be more involved in their childrens' lives and more nurturing than heterosexual couples. They also exhibited greater harmony in their parenting approaches, he said. "Co-moms seem to spend more time with their children than their hetero male counterparts," Biblarz said. "Women in general seem to come out (higher) in many dimensions having to do with care of children relative to men and that's a function of gender differences," he said.


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