Before anything else, let’s put one concern to rest: Same sex parents are as competent, nurturing, and loving as their cis-heteosexual counterparts.
In a review of relevant social science literature, researchers concluded that kids growing up in same-sex households are as poised for growth as children living with parents of different sexes. Studies show parent gender has no effect on academic performance, social development, substance abuse, or other measures of development.1
Indeed, children raised by same sex or queer parents may experience many benefits from their “non-traditional” upbringing, like learning resiliency and unlearn harmful norms about gender roles. But because widespread skepticism around same sex parenting persists, we’re taking a moment to highlight the rewarding and challenging aspects of LGBTQ+ parenting—and what friends and allies can do to uplift same-sex and LGBT parents every day.
The Kids Are Alright: The Many Dimensions of Same-Sex Parenting
While it may seem unusual for those who grew up seeing one mom and one dad in the family photo album, queer and same sex parented families make just as much sense when you stop to consider what healthy parenting is all about.
The basic function of a parental unit is to provide the love and care needed to help their children develop into compassionate, responsible adults. They also supply their kids with necessities like food, medical care, and a home.
In other words: The gender identity or sexual orientation of an individual doesn't determine whether they'll be a good parent or not. That’s just not a requirement. Same sex couples can and do still provide amazing parenting skills as opposite sex couples.
LGBTQ+ Parenting: Things to Look Forward To
One silver lining to the hardships that members of LGBTQ families or the same sex parenting community commonly face? A unique outlook on how to handle adversity.
This skill can be passed on to kids, along with several other learning opportunities queer and same sex parents can offer:
- Children of LGBTQ+ parents may fare better in school – Do the children of queer couples get more A’s? Studies indicate the answer is yes.
The American Sociological Review reports that kids raised by same-sex parents are 5% more likely to finish high school than children raised by heterosexual parents.2 A different study showed that children from same sex households were more likely to achieve higher scores on national standardized tests.3
- LGBTQ+ parenting teaches tolerance – Love is love is love, according to queer parents. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this group teaches acceptance and understanding to their young. According to one study, adults raised by queer parents feel that they are more open-minded and tolerant of others.4
- LGBTQ+ parenting instills gender and labor parity – When considering previous and ‘traditionally’-defined gender roles, men have often been associated with beingthe breadwinners while women have been associated with the home or less labor-intensive work. In light of this, queer parents in particular may reject these notions around gender. A recent study found that transgender and nonbinary parents are more likely to de-emphasize traditional gender roles, leading to a fairer division of unpaid labor at home.5
- LGBTQ+ parenting teaches resilience – Research suggests that LGBTQ+ parents model creativity, intentionality, and flexibility, which lay the foundations for resilient children. And while abominable that members of the LGBTQ+ community still face systemic challenges, this forced character-building may give them more opportunities to model the importance of resilience for their kids.
LGBTQ+ Parenting: Biased Systems Creating Barriers for Same-Sex Parents
Queer and same sex couples are as capable of loving and supporting their children as cis-heteronormative parents. However, due to biases and the discrimination they face, many of their parenting journeys are still characterized by adversity. Therefore, changing the narrative and the systems that create barriers is vital to the health and well-being of all families.
Some common obstacles reported by same-sex couples include:
- Legal difficulties in US states where LGBTQ+ rights aren’t proactively protected
- Greater difficulty obtaining family insurance plans
- Challenges around equal custody in cases of separation
- Discrimination from adoption and government agencies
- Greater expenses due to assisted reproduction or adoption
Still, when it comes to attaining the rights and privileges that different sex parent families enjoy, there are solutions same-sex parents may be able to take advantage of:
- Tax opportunities – The adoption tax credit is one example of a federal lift for an LGBTQ parent looking to adopt. These can ease the burden associated with agency and court fees.
- Family-building grants – There are multiple nonprofits and foundations across the country dedicated to helping families demolish some of the barriers to raising kids. Many of them offer grants that can lighten the financial load for queer parents.
- Advocacy groups – Organizations like PFLAG offer support and community for LGBTQ+ parents and their families through local chapters. Many offer peer-to-peer services, online resources, and outreach.
Foster Connection and Uplift Inclusive Parenting with Slumberkins
LGBTQ families can offer all kinds of opportunities and benefits to their children, and that’s worth talking about. While discrimination and prejudice are still rampant in our society today, different sex parents and families can help out by standing with same-sex parents and acknowledging the unique qualities they bring to family-building today.
At Slumberkins, we believe parenting is a personal practice that should be available to families of all kinds and structures. We stand behind LGBTQ+ families and look to uphold inclusive parenting practices that promote growth and resiliency in all children.
- Manning, Wendy D et al. “Child Well-Being in Same-Sex Parent Families: Review of Research Prepared for American Sociological Association Amicus Brief.” Population research and policy review vol. 33,4 (2014): 485-502. doi:10.1007/s11113-014-9329-6
- Mazrekaj, Deni. "School Outcomes of Children Raised by Same-Sex Parents: Evidence from Administrative Panel Data." American Sociological Review. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0003122420957249
- Kabátek, Jan, and Francisco Perales. “Academic Achievement of Children in Same- and Different-Sex-Parented Families: A Population-Level Analysis of Linked Administrative Data From the Netherlands.” Demography vol. 58,2 (2021): 393-418. doi:10.1215/00703370-8994569
- Goldberg, Abbie. "(How) does it make a difference? Perspectives of adults with lesbian, gay, and bisexual parents." American Psychological Association. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2007-19519-007
- Tornello, Samantha. "Division of Labor Among Transgender and Gender Non-binary Parents: Association With Individual, Couple, and Children’s Behavioral Outcomes." Frontiers in Psychology. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00015/full