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Same-Sex Couples have Healthier and Happier Children

Update Date: Jul 07, 2014 09:22 AM EDT

Children's happiness and healthiness are highly dependent on their parents. In a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Melbourne located in Australia, the team compared happiness and healthiness scores in children of same-sex couples to children from the general population. They found that children with same-sex parents tend to report higher levels of happiness and are healthier physically.

For this study, the researchers interviewed 315 same-sex couples that had a total of 500 children. The participants were all from Australia. Roughly 80 percent of them had female parents while 18 percent had male parents. The researchers measured the children's general health and family cohesion and compared those results to children taken from the general population. The researchers controlled for factors such as parent's education and income.

The researchers found that children born to same-sex couples scored around six percent higher on physical health and family cohesion. However, the children all had similar results for other variables such as emotional behavior and physical function. Even though the researchers did not find out why children from same-sex couples were happier and healthier, they reasoned that the results could be associated to a more balanced work distribution. A more equal distribution of work could indicate that same-sex couples share more responsibilities than heterosexual couples.

"It's often suggested that children with same-sex parents have poorer outcomes because they're missing a parent of a particular sex. But research my colleagues and I published in the journal BMC Public Health shows this isn't the case," lead researcher Simon Crouch wrote according to the Washington Post. "It is liberating for parents to take on roles that suit their skills rather than defaulting to gender stereotypes, where mum is the primary care giver and dad the primary breadwinner."

Despite these findings, the researchers noted that they found that children of same-sex couples experienced higher levels of stigma related to their parents' sexual orientation. Crouch stated that the stigma ranged from mild to severe.

"Many studies have demonstrated that children's well-being is affected much more by their relationships with their parents, their parents' sense of competence and security, and the presence of social and economic support for the family than by the gender or the sexual orientation of their parents," stated Benjamin Siegel, co-author of a study published in the American Academy of Pediatrics. In that report, researchers found that children with same-sex parents had greater resilience ""with regard to social, psychological and sexual health despite economic and legal disparities and social stigma."

The study, "Parent-reported measures of child health and wellbeing in same-sex parent families: a cross-sectional survey," can be found here.

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