Children raised by gay couples show good progress through school: study

Aug 31, 2010 BY ADAM GORLICK

(PhysOrg.com) -- By mining data from the 2000 Census, sociologist Michael Rosenfeld figured out the rates at which kids raised by gay and straight couples repeated a grade during elementary or middle school. He found that children of same-sex parents have essentially the same educational achievement as their peers growing up in heterosexual households.

In nearly every discussion, debate or lawsuit about , the talk at some point turns to family values.

Do make for good parents? Will their children - whether adopted, conceived with the help of a surrogate or brought in from a pre-existing relationship - adjust, adapt and succeed in a world dominated by traditional families?

The answers usually depend on who's giving them, and come dressed in anecdotes and colored by bias. But Stanford Michael Rosenfeld brings something new to the conversation: facts and figures derived from the country's largest data bank - the U.S. Census.

In a study published this month in the journal Demography, Rosenfeld concludes that children being raised by same-sex couples have nearly the same as children raised by married heterosexual couples.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

By mining data from the 2000 Census, Rosenfeld was able to figure out the rates at which children in all types of families repeated a grade during elementary or middle school. According to his findings, nearly 7 percent of children raised by heterosexual married couples were held back a year, while about 9.5 percent of children living with adults identifying themselves as same-sex partners repeated a grade.

The difference between the groups pretty much vanishes when taking into account that the were slightly more educated and wealthier than most gay parents, Rosenfeld said.

"The show that having parents who are the same gender is not in itself any disadvantage to children," he said. "Parents' income and education are the biggest indicators of a child's success. Family structure is a minor determinant."

Rosenfeld's findings have been cited by lawyers fighting Proposition 8, the gay marriage ban passed by California voters in 2008. A federal court judge recently overturned the ban, but his ruling is under appeal.

Rosenfeld's study shows that children of gay and married couples had lower grade-repetition rates than their peers raised by opposite-sex unmarried couples and single parents. And all children living in some type of family environment did much better than those living in group housing. Those who were awaiting adoption or placement in a foster home were held back about 34 percent of the time.

"One of the fundamental issues in modern family law that differs from state to state is whether same-sex couples can adopt," Rosenfeld said. "My research makes clear that there's a huge advantage to kids to be out of the care of the state and into the care of any family, even if the family is not perfectly optimal."

Educators, policymakers and social scientists have long known that children left back in school are at greater risk than their peers for not finishing high school and getting into trouble.

Because gays and lesbians make up such a tiny sliver of the American population - only 1 percent - it has been difficult for researchers to conduct a representative study of how their children perform in the classroom. And gay marriage opponents have criticized earlier studies for having sample sizes that are too small.

"Sample size is power," Rosenfeld said. "And the census is the biggest sample we have. This study is based on a sample of thousands and thousands of kids."

Most personal decisions about gay marriage are based on gut feelings, religious beliefs and individual experiences. Rosenfeld knows his research isn't going to change the minds of most people opposed to same-sex unions. But he has added new data to the debate that helps debunk assertions - whether based on a lack of knowledge or some unfounded fear - that children raised by gay couples cannot thrive.

"Social scientists have an obligation to shed light where they can on issues that are roiling the public," he said. "Sometimes we have to throw up our hands and admit that something is unknowable. But in this case, we could bring some real hard data to bear on an area that was otherwise really in the dark."

Explore further: Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Sociologist: Stepfamilies hard to define

Dec 11, 2006

The changing face of the U.S. family is nothing like the Cleavers or the Andersons of television lore, an Iowa State University sociologist said.

Do children need both a mother and a father?

Jan 21, 2010

The presumption that children need both a mother and a father is widespread. It has been used by proponents of Proposition 8 to argue against same-sex marriage and to uphold a ban on same-sex adoption.

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 5

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

kevinrtrs
1 / 5 (3) Aug 31, 2010
Isn't it strange that such a minority of people can raise such a high profile in the public mind?
Or maybe not.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Aug 31, 2010
Isn't it strange that such a minority of people can raise such a high profile in the public mind?
The high profile comes from the constant bigotry expressed towards gay people by individuals like yourself. If you left them alone, no one would be that interested in them. Since your ilk need to make up stories to attempt to "defend the sanctity of the family from the evil homosexual" science must go in and determine the facts, all of which are in stark contrast to your assertions of immorality and evil.
napdaw
5 / 5 (2) Aug 31, 2010
There are other factors at play here other than if these kids have gay parents or not. Kids who are adopted have unique issues of their own that could affect their success at school (ex. attachment disorder).
hyonfesta
1 / 5 (1) Sep 04, 2010
Thank god. At least something is good in a gay marriage.
http://www.health...ews.html
getgoa
1 / 5 (1) Sep 04, 2010
This article belongs with the bullying article where the students do worst because they are bullied. No question if someone found out that 1% percent of the pop. is alienating themselves. The gay pop. knows they are alienating themselves beyond curiousity.

The facts are this article and others on this website does not support serious gay rights.

This is not England where gays are knighted to royalty they can move--Sodomy is a sin seriously not just out of curiousity.

People should realize they are being turned out from the World War--Especially in USA and England.

More news stories

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.