`Gay and Lesbian Families, Raising Children.
In 1993 US Census reports 601,209 unmarried same-sex households in the U.S. (in Kirk, 2002).
- Involves crucial decisions and is well planned out by most gay and lesbian couples.
Donor Insemination (DI): 1 parent + donor sperm or eggs; about 30-50,000/ year in United States. Used mostly by infertile heter. couples, but also some single women and lesbians.
· 88% of lesbian mothers in National Study conceived child through anonymous donor rather than adoption b/c concerned about legal issues with children and to avoid scrutiny of social worker. (Johnson, p. 92)
· Many adoption agencies won't work with same-sex parents.
· Foreign adoption presents options; parent can identify to foreign agency as single parent, or domestic agency can ignore sexuality of parents when arranging adoption with foreign agency. (Johnson, p. 89-91)
· In most states only one parent can be legal parent, therefore one parent will not have legal status in relation to child.
Co-parenting: prospective gay father acts as sperm donor for prospective lesbian mother, then share custody of child.
· Difficulties with unequal desire for involvement. (Johnson, p. 97)
· One particular case in which prospective gay father's sperm was used to inseminate partner's sister. Gay parents say they're very happy with arrangement and outcome.
· Only six men in National Study used this option (Johnson, p. 99).
· Whereas heterosexual parents face the choice to tell children how conceived, children of same sex parents eventually notice that the “other” biological parent is missing if never told.
· Issue of which person to be biological parent (Johnson, p. 94):
- Only 4% of lesbians in study reported difficulty in decision.
- Almost ˝ decided each parent would bear one child.
- 1/3 lesbian parents considered health and age in decision to bear child.
· 11% of Lesbians and 20% of Gay men in National Study encountered resistance from medical professionals (for assistance with DI, co-parenting).
· Most parents in study were open with doctors and teachers about their sexuality (Johnson, p. 144)
Gay vs. Straight Families.
Division of Labor.
· Same-sex couples more egalitarian than M/F couple in household division of labor. (McPherson, 1993)
· Same-sex couples more egalitarian than M/F couple in child-rearing responsibilities. (Hand, 1991; Blumstein, 1993)
· Lesbian social mothers more involved with child-rearing than heterosexual fathers, on average. (Hand, 1991; Tasker, 1998)
· In lesbian family, bio. mother does more housework and child-rearing. (p. 153)
· Most same-sex parents are authoritative (see diagram, parenting styles).
· Same-sex couples exhibit significantly lower rates of corporal punishment (i.e. spanking) than heterosexual couples: less than 15% compared to about 60% for each group respectively (Johnson, p. 166).
· Same-sex parents place great emphasis on “respect for others” and “tolerance of diversity” with children (Johnson, p. 132-33).
· Children conceived by lesbian mother through DI found to be just as well adjusted as children born to heterosexual couple. (Flaks, et. al, 1995)
· Adolescents of lesbian mother no different in self-esteem than from heter. mother. (Huggins, 1989)
· No difference found in IQ or WISC-R (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised) between children of lesbians vs. M/F couple. (Green et. al, 1986; Flaks, et. al, 1995)
· No difference in peer relations between children of lesbians and M/F couple. (Golombok, et. al, 1983)
· Self-reports reveal no difference in being teased as a child for adolescent daughters of lesb. compared to M/F. (Green at. al, 1986)
· Not the case for boys: More likely to have been teased than girls about having same-sex parents. (Tasker & Golombok, 1997)
· No difference in psych. adjustment for children of 2 fem. vs. M/F. (Flaks, 1995)
· No difference on measures of emotion, deviant behavior, or relationships. (Golombok, et. al, 1983)
· No difference in likelihood of anxiety or depression in later life for lesbian offspring vs. M/F. (Tasker, 1997)
· Gender Role: children of lesbians just as likely as M/F kids to pick "gender-appropriate toys". (Hoeffer, 1981)
Difficulties in Studying this Population.
· Studies of this population have generally had small number of subjects.
· Difficult to disentangle effect of divorce & having gay parent on child-outcome
· Consider that 1/3 of families in National Study of Gay and Lesbian Parents had children from heterosexual marriages (Johnson, p. 120)
· Related to this: Lesbian couples more likely than Gay men to add to their families; that is, have kids as lesbian couple in addition to children from previous heterosexual relationship, forming blended families (Johnson, p. 121).
Legal Issues (Kirk, 2002).
· 1996 Defense of Marriage Act: 35 States adopt the following definition of marriage: “A legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.”
· Several states including Hawaii, California, and Conneticut have adopted limited legal rights for same sex couples: Right to inheritance and hospital visitation in emergencies.
· Rhode Island: state employees that qualify as unmarried "domestic partnerships" can file for health insurance together.
July 2000, Civil Unions in Vermont.
· 4647 couples have obtained Civil Union; 3906 of those from other states and countries (i.e. Canada).
· 66% of Civil Unions have been for lesbians.
· Civil union only recognized in Vermont and still does not guarantee most important rights and benefits, such as right to file insurance as married couple, make decisions for one another in emergency (hospitals), among others. (symbolic vs. legal marriage)