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Study: Children of Lesbian Parents Happy and Healthy

December 29, 2008

Phoenix, AZ – A new report from a California researcher shows children of lesbian families are as happy and well-adjusted as children raised by heterosexual parents. The report is based on a 22-year long study of children conceived by lesbians through donor insemination.

During the presidential campaign, Arizona Sen. John McCain denounced gay and lesbian adoption, saying those who adopt should be a "traditional couple." But the study shows that the quality of the parent-child relationship is the most important factor in a child's development, rather than the sexual orientation of the parents.

Dr. Nanette Gartrell, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, is the study's lead investigator.

"What makes good parenting is intentionality, having enough money and resources to provide for your child, taking the time and being thoughtful. It's really about family function, not family structure."

Sen. McCain eventually issued a statement acknowledging that abandoned children are better off with caring parental figures than without them.

With heterosexual parents, Gartrell says, one partner typically assumes more of the parenting duties, but that doesn't happen as often in a lesbian family.

"You add two moms to the equation, and they're both very actively involved parents."

Often competition exists among lesbian parents to perform duties such as reading to a child at bedtime, Gartrell found, whereas parents in other family structures might consider such an activity a chore.

Gartrell has made the study of lesbian parenting a lifelong project. She would like to see legal discrimination ended against lesbian and gay parents.

"I would love to see the laws in every state reflect the findings of my study and other studies that show how committed lesbian and gay parents are to providing secure, loving, happy and safe homes for their children."

Only one state, Florida, had an outright ban on lesbian and gay adoptions, but that ban recently was reversed in court.

More information on the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS) is available at

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ