A recent study out of the University of Queensland in Australia is helping dispel some commonly-held misconceptions about the well-adjustment of kids reared in same-sex households; when it comes to academic success, children raised by same-sex couples not only match but can even fare better than their peers in three key areas.
Specifically, researchers found that Dutch children of same-sex parents fared 13 per cent better on standardized tests, were slightly more likely to graduate from high school (just under 2 per cent), and were more than 11 per cent more likely to pursue university education.
This goes against notions that call into question the quality of parenting same-sex couples can provide to their children and the myths that have traditionally propped up systemic barriers to same-sex couples who are looking to become parents, whether through conception or adoption.
Same-sex couples face more barriers to parenthood (including social stigma, greater costs of conceiving a child, and legislative hurdles)
Only in recent years have some parts of the world gone on to decriminalize same-sex relations, to recognize same-sex marriage and to ensure same-sex couples can adopt children or have equal access to IVF treatments, as well as to have both parents be formally recognized as such.
The study looked at publicly-collected anonymous data that examined 1.4 million children of different-sex couples and 3,006 children of same-sex couples in the Netherlands – a country with high public approval for same-sex relations, and generally lower experiences of stigma and discrimination against sexual minorities.
While the data yielded no conclusive evidence for why children of same-sex parents performed better, the authors leaned on existing research for possible reasons; they theorized that it could be because same-sex couples face more barriers to parenthood (including social stigma, greater costs of conceiving a child, and legislative hurdles), and that overcoming these barriers may strengthen their commitment to parental roles. Coupled with the idea that same-sex couples face minimal odds of becoming pregnant accidentally, they may approach parenthood more intentionally and mindfully, resulting in more positive parenting practices.
Interestingly however, the study also concluded that although same-sex parents had higher than average levels of education, they had lower than average incomes than their heteronormative counterparts.
The study provides a positive example of what can happen when there are high levels of social and political support, enabling children of sexually diverse households to thrive. Then, it turns out, love is really all you need.