Research Speaks Out

Key Points in this Section

  • Research clearly demonstrates that family structure matters for children, and the family structure that helps children the most is a family headed by two biological parents in a low conflict marriage.
  • The American Psychological Association, having reviewed 59 studies of children raised by homosexuals made the statement: “Not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents”. These studies greatly influenced public thinking on this subject but every one of them was found to be unreliable.
  • Children living with gay and lesbian families in 2006 were about 65% as likely to graduate compared to children living in opposite sex marriage families
  • Serious emotional problems were found in 17.4% of children of same-sex parents compared with 7.4% of children of opposite-sex parents
  • Contrary to common belief, children with same-sex parents are picked on and bullied less than those with opposite-sex parents

An illuminating report in Queensland daily, “Courier Mail, 24/06/2017” said:

One-parent family “sets kids up for less in life”

Children of one-parent families earn less, have fewer friends and are more likely to be single, a study shows.
Adults who were born into a single-parent home earn 27% less than those whose parents stayed together, a report by the University of Warwick in the UK reveals.

Having grown up without seeing their two parents together, they are also 9 per cent less likely to be in a romantic relationship themselves and more often divorced…

Co-author Dr Sakari Lemola said: “The way our parents interacted in their relationship when we were children has an influence on how we interact with our partner when we are adults. There is evidence that we at least partly learn our so-called “attachment style” from our parents.

His study, with the German Institute for Economic Research, took data from 641 people who spent their entire childhood with a single mother.

The findings, reported in the Journal PLOS One, also reveal that children with a single parent from birth have only 4.08 friends on average, compared with 4.62 for those whose parents stayed together.

Those facts have obvious implications for SSM.

Another, Child Trends, a secular research institute in the USA, made this statement:

“Research clearly demonstrates that family structure matters for children, and the family structure that helps children the most is a family headed by two biological parents in a low conflict marriage.” (Child Trends 2002 “How Does Family Structure Affect Children and What Can Be Done About it?”)

Family structure affects children. Google this subject. You will find lots of illuminating facts and figures – as you would expect. In fact, it is so in your face, and biological family is such a cornerstone of our society, it is simply extraordinary that we should have to defend it.

Political correctness has not helped. Truth has often been sacrificed for fear of offending people – especially single parents who do their best in difficult circumstances. But when the welfare of children is at stake, for their sake we need to face facts squarely so that we don’t repeat mistakes.

Biological family is best for children. The Child Trends article referenced above went on to demonstrate that if one parent is removed, remarriage to another person does not restore the advantage. It is the biological kinship that matters, not just having two loving carers.

So you would expect same-sex parenting would also be detrimental to children.

A large part of the LGBT community would like to prove otherwise, and have invested much energy in efforts to do that.

However, in addition to the testimonies of now-adult children of same-sex parenting, statistics bear out the importance of biological parenting. Before looking at these it is important to understand the:

Unreliable Research

To achieve reliable results in any kind of social study two golden rules must be satisfied. If not, results should be viewed with great caution. The rules are:

  • There must be a large enough sample size. For example, if you study the success or otherwise of same-sex parenting and analyse only (say) three families, the results will obviously be dubious.
  • The samples studied must be random. If you study same-sex parenting and analyse only (say) parents who had tertiary degrees, or (say) drug abusing parents, the results will again be dubious.

Many studies have failed one or both these points. Note that the study of children raised by same-sex parents becomes difficult because it is hard to obtain a large enough sample size. So keep all this in mind with the following.

Studies showing SSM has no harmful effect on children – are they reliable?

For a number of years references have been made to studies demonstrating SSM had no harmful effects on children. In fact, in 2005 the American Psychological Association (APA) Brief on “Lesbian and Gay Parenting” made the statement: “Not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents”.

Professor Loren Marks reviewed the 59 studies which the APA used in reaching this conclusion. Bearing in mind the two above conditions necessary for valid research results, Professor Marks said not one of the studies satisfied those conditions. He said:

“The available data, which are drawn primarily from small convenience samples, are insufficient to support a strong generalised claim either way. Such a statement would not be grounded in science.” (Marks L., Same-sex parenting and children’s outcomes, Social Science Research 41, no. 4, (2012) 735-751 – See SFAC P68)

In addition, David Gend (SFAC P66) notes the following:

In 2013 the Australian Institute for Family Studies (AIFS) published a review entitled “Same-Sex Parented Families in Australia”, a sympathetic treatment of the topic by Deborah Dempsey, a founding committee member of the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby. Nevertheless it contained the important admission that “numerous scholars now agree it is not possible to sustain a claim frequently made in the earlier literature that there are no differences between children raised in same-sex and heterosexual parented families.”

In the light of this discussion that admission is extraordinary. Many times we have heard the cry from supporters of SSM: “studies have proven that children from same-sex parents do just as well as others”. That is simply not true.

Note that Dempsey says “numerous scholars” have reached this conclusion. One of those scholars, Nicholas Cummings, a former president of the American Psychological Association wrote:

“the APA has chosen ideology over science”


“…advocacy for scientific and professional concerns has been usurped by agenda-driven ideologues who show little regard for either scientific validation or professional efficacy”. (Cumings N and Wright R. eds., Destructive Trends in Mental Health: the well-intentioned path to harm (Routledge, 2005), 14.) – See SFAC P69)

Yet those 2005 statements from the APA have gone far and wide, and even though discredited, they still influence Australians who will vote on the issue. There is urgent need to get the facts straight.

With that groundwork, let’s look at some studies.

Comparing Effects of Different Parenting

Here are some statistics on high school completion.

Percentage who dropped out of high school:

  • 37% of children born outside marriage
  • 31% of children from divorced parents
  • 13% of children from intact families with married father and mother

(McLanahan S., Sandefur G., Growing Up with a Single Parent quoted in the Witherspoon Institute, Marriage and the Public Good: Ten Principles, op.cit – SFAC P63)

As we have been saying, biological parenting is best for children.

Compare now with another study by Douglas Allen: which drew on a 20% sample of the Canadian census. (A good sample size.) (High School graduation rates among children of same-sex households, Review of Economics of the Household 635 (3013) – SFAC P63)

This study found:

  • “children living with gay and lesbian families in 2006 were about 65% as likely to graduate compared to children living in opposite sex marriage families”.

So children from same-sex parenting are (roughly) equally disadvantaged compared with those from non-intact families.

Would SSM overcome this disadvantage?

Unfortunately, no. Over and over, studies have shown that the indispensable issue is biological parenting. “A legal construct cannot compensate for biological disruption”. (SFAC P64)

Sullins Study of Emotional Problems of children with SSM parents

One of the largest surveys, and very well conducted, came from Sullins . It drew on the US National Health Interview Survey database of 207,000 children – which included 512 children from same-sex parents. A good, large, random sample. (Sullins D. P. “Emotional Problems among Children with Same-Sex Parents: Difference by Definition,” British Journal of Education, Society and Behavioural Science 7, no. 2 (2015) 99-120 – SFAC P76)

Sullins found that serious emotional problems were found in:

  • 17.4% of children of same-sex parents
  • 7.4% of children of opposite-sex parents’

In other words, the risk of serious emotional problems more than doubled with same-sex parenting. That risk increased to 3.6 times as much when compared with the optimum group of married biological parents.

In case parental breakup in same-sex families influenced these results, Sullins compared children of same-sex step parents with children of opposite-sex step parents. The result:

  • children of same-sex step parents bore 2.2 times the risk of serious emotional problems


The study by Sullins also looked at bullying. If children of same-sex couples were bullied more than others that could account for their emotional problems. Sullins reported:

“Contrary to the assumption underlying this hypothesis, children with opposite-sex parents are picked on and bullied more than those with same-sex parents.” (Emphasis added for clarity)


Those results are reliable and compelling. The implications are clear:

  • Children from same-sex families are severely disadvantaged.
  • Children should be raised wherever possible by biological parents. To deny that to a child is to deny the child’s birthright.
  • Children are vulnerable and are not able to speak for themselves. We must do it for them.

Now it needs to be said again:

Homosexuals may, as individuals, be as capable parents as anyone. But children do best with both biological parents. For two reasons: because they have the inimitable link of biology and also because mothers and fathers have unique, different and necessary input in child raising. A father cannot be a mother and vice versa. It is not discriminatory to say these things, any more than it is discriminatory to deny a man admission as a patient to a maternity hospital because he is a man.