In the largest study published of its kind worldwide, the Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families recently published its results from a survey of 315 same-sex parents representing 500 children aged 0-17. This study aimed to expand research on same-sex parenting that had been previously limited by smaller scope and sample sizes, and to investigate the impact of social stigma on the wellbeing of the children. However, the study overwhelmingly found that children with same-sex attracted parents scored higher than population samples on measures of child health.
The health and wellbeing of the children was assessed along multiple axes, using three standardized scales “used to measure multidimensional aspects of functioning and health-related quality of life” as well as a standardized behavioral screening that assessed social and emotional wellbeing. Perceived stigma was the other main outcome measure recorded by the study, and were assessed by a standardized stigmatization scale and compared to the health and wellbeing scales.
Of the children who participated in the study, ninety-one had male parents (18% of the results), four hundred had female parents (80% of the results) and five (1%) had an other-gendered parent.
After adjusting for socio-demographic factors, the average scores for general behavior, health, and family cohesion were 3%, 6%, and 6% higher for children from same-sex parents on the Child Health Questionnaire compared to general population values. The conclusions reached by the study were that though perceived stigma is negatively associated with mental health, the children in the study with same-sex attracted parents scored higher than their peers on multiple measures of child health. The study looks toward the future in its conclusion section, stating that “[f]uture work should further explore the ways in which stigma affects the mental health of children with same-sex attracted parents and in particular ways in which these children can be protected from experiences of discrimination,” as the study and studies like it have established that mental health impact on children of same-sex couples is a result of the stigma measure, rather than an inherent feature of same-sex parenting.