Research has shown that teenage children raised by lesbian mothers have no developmental differences compared to children of the same age raised by heterosexual parents. Researchers Stephen Russell from the University of Arizona, in Tuscon, US, and Charlotte Patterson and Jennifer Wainwright, from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, studied the results of interviews with 12,000 children aged between 12 and 18 and their families, undertaken since 1995. The adolescents were part of the US National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.
Through the interview material, the researchers found 44 teenagers being raised by lesbian couples in a 'marriage-like' relationship. Each of these teenagers was 'matched' to a teenager from a heterosexual family, by looking at factors including gender, age, ethnicity, adoption status and household income.
Previous research has shown that young children of lesbian mothers fare no differently to their counterparts, but there has been debate about adolescents, who some researchers thought might be more 'conscious' of their situation and of the potential for discrimination against their families. There has also been speculation as to whether children of same sex couples are affected by their parents' sexuality.
However, the researchers, who published their findings in the journal Child Development, found no difference between the two groups in terms of levels of depression, anxiety, self-esteem and educational achievement. Exactly 34 per cent of each group of teenagers reported that they had had sex but few reported same sex attractions or romances. Russell said that the findings 'would call into question suggestions that growing up with single-sex parents is somehow problematic'. He added that the most important factor affecting the wellbeing of the teenagers studied was the quality of their relationship with their parents. As a result, Russell said the findings 'provide no justification for limitations on child custody or visitation by lesbian mothers' and 'do not support the idea that lesbian and gay adults are less likely than others to provide good adoptive or foster homes'.