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Children from sexual minority families are not disadvantaged: study

The new study indicates that parental sexual orientation is not important in a child's development.

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(RODNAE Productions via Pexels)

By Alice Clifford via SWNS

Children from sexual minority families fare as well as or better than families with parents of the opposite sex, a new study reveals.

Sexual minority families include parents whose sexual orientation or gender identity is considered outside the cultural or societal norms.

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.

The new study may help to quash the debate, showing that parental sexual orientation is not important in a child's development.

The team reviewed 34 relevant studies published between January 1989 and April 2022.

Each study was carried out in countries where same-sex relationships were legally recognized.

The studies were categorized into 11 main themes.

These included children’s psychological adjustment, physical health, gender role behavior, and gender identity and sexual orientation.

Other themes were educational attainment, parents’ mental health and parenting stress, parent-child relationships, couple relationship satisfaction, how the family functioned and social support.

Out of all the studies, 16 showed that most family outcomes were similar between these two family types.

And in some categories, such as child psychological adjustment and child-parent relationships, sexual minority families fared better.

However, they didn’t outperform different parental sex families on couple relationship satisfaction, mental health, parenting stress or family functioning.

Risk factors for poor family outcomes for sexual minority families included experiencing stigma and discrimination, inadequate social support and co-habiting rather than marrying.

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Author Dr. Chuanyi Ning, from the School of Nursing at Guangxi Medical University in Nanning, China, said: “Legal marriage confers a host of protections and advantages to the couples who marry and to their children.”

“Growing up with sexual minority parents may confer some advantages to children.

“They have been described as more tolerant of diversity and more nurturing towards younger children than children of heterosexual parents.”

Out of the studies, 18 showed that children who lived in sexual minority parent families were less likely to expect to identify as straight when they grew up.

Dr. Ning 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.”

The study was limited as it could only study regions where same-sex relationships were legal.

Dr. Ning added: “One contribution of this review is the recognition that parents’ sexual orientation is not, in and of itself, an important determinant of children’s development.

“Another is that there are significant risk factors often associated with the sexual minority experience and family functioning, such as stigma, poor social support and parenting styles.

“Policymakers, practitioners, and the public must work together to improve family outcomes, regardless of sexual orientation.”

The study was published in the journal BMJ Global Health.

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