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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 9, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 50
New policy brief provides an overview of social science research on Lesbian and Gay families
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New policy brief provides an overview of social science research on Lesbian and Gay families

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

A new policy brief from the National Council on Family Relations provides an overview of findings from social science research, as well as recommendations for policies to help Lesbian and Gay (LG)-parent families to thrive.

According to the brief, research on LG parents and their children is consistent across studies and samples in finding that both parents and children do not differ in well-being or developmental outcomes from the general population.

'In recent years, considerable controversy has surrounded families headed by lesbian and gay parents,' the authors say. 'Questions posed by courts and legislators have included: Do lesbians and gay men make good parents? How do their children turn out? Despite diversity among LG-parent families, results of research have shown that LG parents are generally well adjusted, that their children are developing in positive ways, and that families living in supportive circumstances seem to show the most positive developmental outcomes.'

In addition, the brief states that families headed by LG parents are very diverse. 'Like other families, they vary on and are influenced by many characteristics, including race, ethnicity, education, and income.'

Like other families, LG parents and their children fare better when they have adequate resources and live in supportive environments. Supportive laws and policies, such as nondiscrimination protections, can help LG parents and their children to thrive.

However, 'despite the recent introduction of marriage equality in the United States, children of LG parents are still more likely than children of heterosexual parents to live in poverty.'

The authors end the brief by stating, 'An important policy change that could improve the climate for LG parents and their children would thus be passage of a federal nondiscrimination bill, on the model of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, and other areas. In addition, closure of religious exemptions that allow for continued discrimination against sexual minorities would be a valuable step toward full equality. In these ways, the United States could ensure more inclusive and supportive environments for LG parents and their children.'

The brief was co-authored by Williams Institute Faculty Advisory Committee Member and former visiting scholar Prof. Charlotte J. Patterson, PhD, and current Williams Institute visiting scholar Prof. Abbie E. Goldberg, PhD.

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