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What's Wrong with Gay (or Straight) Parents Raising Gay Kids?

Today's post is from Matt Kailey, the author of Just Add Hormones: An Insider's Guide the Transsexual Experience (Beacon Press, 2005), the editor of Focus on the Fabulous: Colorado GLBT Voices (Johnson Books, 2007), and the managing editor of Out Front Colorado, Colorado's oldest and largest GLBT publication.

KaileyAnother anti-homosexual brouhaha is brewing. Psychologist Trayce L. Hansen has reviewed nine studies that examined the sexual orientation of children raised by same-sex parents and has concluded that children raised by same-sex parents "have a 4 to 10 times greater likelihood of developing a non-heterosexual preference than other children."

I'm not going to try to debunk Dr. Hansen's limited findings. Basically, what she did was examine studies that found few, if any, differences between children raised by same-sex and opposite-sex parents (and those differences that were found tended to favor the children raised by same-sex parents) and deconstructed them in order to find some flaw. I have no doubt that someone will deconstruct Dr. Hansen's own methods and find some flaw as well – this is what researchers do. And Dr. Hansen, who has written before about the "problems" of children raised by same-sex couples, and who appears to be a psychological darling of the religious right set, seems to have entered into her current project with an agenda already in place, making her "findings" suspect at best. However, none of that matters.

Let's just say, for one brief, hallucinatory moment, that Dr. Hansen's findings are correct and that children raised by same-sex parents do have a "4 to 10 times greater likelihood of developing a non-heterosexual preference than other children." So what?

One of the problems with trying to prove that gay men and lesbians are "just like everyone else" and that children raised by same-sex parents are "just like everyone else" is that "everyone else" translates to "non-gay-or-lesbian." In other words, our own argument makes us "less than" and holds up heterosexuality as the standard to shoot for.

I have read many studies involving same-sex parenting, including some of the studies that Dr. Hansen examines. My own beliefs hold that any problems that children raised by same-sex couples exhibit (and there don't seem to be many, according to these studies) have to do with societal opinion rather than improper parenting. If society thinks that your family unit is "bad" or "wrong," of course that will have some repercussions. The fact that these children are well adjusted and healthy in the face of such negative public opinion speaks to the excellent parenting that they are receiving.

But are they more prone to same-sex attraction than children raised by opposite-sex couples? The studies that Dr. Hansen attempts to debunk say no, and every legitimate medical and psychological association in the country has publicly stated that sexual orientation is not a choice (does Dr. Hansen belong to the APA?). But what difference does it make? What if they all grew up to be gay, lesbian or bisexual – with a handful of transgendered kids thrown in for good measure? Would this be such a terrible outcome?

I would argue that Dr. Hansen's findings are questionable, based on the fact that her history indicates an agenda going in – not a hypothesis, which would be legitimate, but an agenda. But I would also argue that, even if legitimate research found that 100 percent of children raised by same-sex couples developed same-sex attractions, it just wouldn't matter. Homosexuality, when separated from negative societal opinions, is simply not an issue. Let's move on.

You may also be interested in reading Matt Kailey's posts on the use of reparative therapies for Transgender children and the pregnancy of FTM transsexual Thomas Beatie.