Children of sexual minority families are less likely to identify as straight adults, a study suggests. Those raised in families where parental sexual orientation or gender identity is considered outside cultural, societal, or physiological norms fare as well as or better than those in ‘traditional’ families.
Experts say it shows parental sexual orientation is not an important determinant of children’s development.
The number of children in families with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer parents has risen in recent years.
But despite a shift in public attitudes, sexual minority parenting still provokes controversy, and whether parental sexual orientation affects family outcomes continues to be a matter of debate, according to the researchers.
The number of children in families with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer parents has risen in recent years. But despite a shift in public attitudes, sexual minority parenting still provokes controversy, and whether parental sexual orientation affects family outcomes continues to be a matter of debate, according to the researchers
They reviewed 34 relevant studies published between 1989 and 2022, carried out in countries where same sex relationships were legally recognised.
Themes studied included children’s psychological adjustment, physical health, gender role behaviour, gender identity/sexual orientation and educational attainment; parents’ mental health and parenting stress; and parent–child relationships, couple relationship satisfaction, family functioning, social support.
Most family outcomes were similar between these two family types and in some domains, such as child psychological adjustment — pre-schoolers, in particular — and child-parent relationships, these were actually better in sexual minority families.
But the analysis indicated that sexual minority parents did not outperform different parental sex families on couple relationship satisfaction, mental health, parenting stress, or family functioning.
They found children who lived in sexual minority parent families were less likely to expect to identify as straight when they grew up than were children who lived in ‘traditional’ set-up families.
Dr Chuanyi Ning, of Guangxi Medical University, China, who led the study said: ‘There may be less gender stereotyping in minority parent families, and this effect may be positive.
‘Exploration of gender identity and sexuality may actually enhance children’s ability to succeed and thrive in a range of contexts.’
Most of the study participants were from gay and lesbian households and it was not possible to account for potentially influential demographic factors, according to the findings published in BMJ Global Health.
But the researchers conclude that children from sexual minority families are not at a disadvantage compared with children from different sex parent families.