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Same sex parenting?

Australian families have endured and confronted a variety of hardships and challenges throughout the history of Australia (Families in Australia, 2011). These families although having major differences in form and cohesion, have all had the ability to maintain the well-being of their children.

We will be discussing the effect of same-sex parenting and its impact on the well being of their children, and exploring the ups and downs of this type of family.

Same sex parenting and families constitute as being a valid family Because..... Despite laws restricting the way people view a family, it is the interactions between individuals, the ability to overcome obstacles and the structure of the households which constitute as being a valid family

Trends and Laws.

In the 2001 census, 11 000 males and 9 000 females identified themselves as being in a same sex relationship (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2001). Within these, close to 1 in 5 lesbian couples have a child living with them while less than 5% of gay couples do (Vaus, 2004).
There is an increasing number of Australian lesbians and gay men that are raising children including those born through Assisted Reproductive Technology; in previous hetero- sexual relationships; through surrogacy, foster care or adoption; or in shared parenting arrangements. (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2005) In Australia, all state and territory governments have amended legislation so as to recognize same-sex couples as de facto couples for all or many purposes, and there is capacity in many jurisdictions for registration of relationships (Riggs 2009). Laws have been passed in WA, ACT, NT and NSW to allow a birth mothers female partner to be automatically recognized and registered as the legal parent of a child born to her partner in the same way that a womans male partner can be, Australia-wide, whether or not he is the biological parent. Over the last ten years, laws and policies that previously restricted access to fertility services to women with a male partner have been amended, so as to provide access to fertility services to women who need them, without consideration of their sexuality or the gender of their partner (or, whether or not they have a partner). Same-sex couples and single people has been found to be assessed as suitable foster parents across most of Australia. Same-sex couples are presently eligible to apply to adopt children in Western Australia and the ACT.15 In Tasmania; registered same-sex couples can only apply to adopt a child related to one partner. There are therefore three Australian jurisdictions, as well as a number of overseas jurisdictions such as Canada and South Africa, where a same-sex couple may both be the adoptive parents of a child, or where one parent is the biological parent and the other is the adoptive parent of a child.

Public Criticism

Families of same-sex couples have achieved greater public notice in the western world in recent years, with increasing media and political attention on debates on gay marriage and the reproductive rights of lesbians and gay men, including the right to access in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and surrogacy. An example of public criticism is the news media, it is often seen that the reporters own viewpoint is promoted through the article. The presence of evidence it could build support for a specific view in the eyes of the public. Overall, these articles present a biased view of the studies and their results. The majority of the articles only generalized that all studies prove that children raised by homosexuals are no different than children raised by heterosexuals. This coverage of same-sex parenting studies have received in the news media has contributed to their early steps of acceptance by the general public. Despite social and legal obstacles, lesbians and gay men have often succeeded in creating and sustaining meaningful family and parental relationships (Power, 2010).

Struggle for Acceptance

Many same-sex parents have blended families that include children from previous relationships as well as children conceived within the relationship by one or both of the parents. This diversity of family forms challenges to the norm of heterosexually-based, concepts or definitions of family (Correia & Broderick, 2009). Social deprivation in all the ways in which gay relationships are not supported in this society, in families of origin, school, church, and state, contribute to the stress and constriction experienced by gay and lesbian families On a personal level, some lesbian and gay parents encounter a lack of support or even outright hostility, within their own extended family network. Considerable research shows that people who are same-sex attracted have experienced some form of marginalisation and stigmatisation as a result of their sexual identity. This could potentially contribute to reduce social connectedness, and can have a negative impact on same-sex peoples physical and mental health and access to health care (Power, 2010).

Second class citizens

The biggest challenge for most same-sex parented families is dealing with a legal and community context that is generally not supportive of same-sex relationships and often does not accommodate diverse family forms. In same-sex relationships, nonbiological parents of children often have few means to ensure they are legally recognised as a parent (Correia & Broderick, 2009). From this, same-sex parented families may experience discrimination within the health, welfare, education and legal systems or encounter negative attitudes that adds extra burden on gay parents (Power, 2010).

What does the research say?

Research shows that the openness of gay and lesbian couples with their families is vital. Individuals who identify themselves openly with the families often risk relationships with these people, however most often succeed in creating and sustaining meaningful family relationships when they do so (Biblarz&Savci 2004). Also, the openness of gay and lesbian people to their employer, exhusbands/wives, children and friends increases their economic and emotional resources. All of these aspects provide the foundation of a sustained family and allows for a successful rearing of their children. Upon analysis of the 2001 census (Vaus 2004), several trends were found. In relation to heterosexual couples, same sex couples are more likely to: -Be employed in professional occupations -Have a degree or higher education qualification -Have relatively high incomes -Have no religious affiliations A study undergone in relation to sexual identity of children who were raised in same sex households. The results showed that children adhered to the gender stereotypes in relation to toys, television programs and behaviour attributes, meaning that children were undergoing similar recreational experiences as children raised in a heterosexual household.

Impact on Children

Emotional & Mental Well-being

Children raised by same-sex parents have the same level of emotional health as children raised by heterosexual parents, according to an American Psychological Association (APA) position paper on gay and lesbian parenting. The APA points out that no published and peer-reviewed articles or studies have shown that children of gay and lesbian parents have diminished mental health or psychological development. The APA concludes that placing children in a stable gay home can positively affect their health and psychological development in ways that mirror placing them with stable heterosexual families ( Downey 2011).


Children with gay and lesbian parents have more empathy toward others and are more fluent in and comfortable with issues of human diversity, according to an article published by the National Organization for Men Against Sexism. These children tend to have more freedom to express themselves outside the norms of standard gender roles. Boys feel freer to explore traditionally feminine aspects of their personalities, while girls more readily exhibit traditionally masculine qualities. In other words, boys raised by gay parents are less likely to feel shame about participating in dance, cooking, fashion or the arts, while girls are more likely to feel comfortable exploring the world, participating in sports and taking on traditionally male occupations(Downey 2011).

Involved Parenting

Gay and lesbian parents are just as involved in child care as heterosexual parents. The National Organization for Men Against Sexism says that the obstacles gays and lesbians have to overcome to adopt illustrate their desire to be thoroughly invested parents and caretakers. The article points to a study that found that gay men worked fewer hours in order to devote more time to parenting. The Child Welfare League of America says that because of sexism, homophobia and legal discrimination, LGBT families have to work harder to protect the rights of their families and the well-being of their children (Downey 2011).

So what does this all mean?

A study undergone in relation to sexual identity of children who were raised in same sex households. The results showed that children adhered to the gender stereotypes in relation to toys, television programs and behavior attributes, meaning that children were undergoing similar recreational experiences as children raised in a heterosexual household. The fact is that, studies show that there is no significant difference between children raised in homosexual or heterosexual households (Bivlarz&Savci 2004) in relation to personal development including: -Psychiatric evaluation -Assessment of behavioural problems -Personality -Self-concept -Locus of control -Moral judgment -Intelligence


As can be seen by the discussion presented, same sex parenting can and does have limitations and effects on children. However these effects cannot be determined to be detrimental to the well being of the child. As is noted in families in Australia, Australian families ALL had the ability to maintain the well-being of their children through hard times, irrespective of their physical formation.