Health and Science

Children of same-sex parents healthier: Study

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Children of same-sex parents have above average health and wellbeing, research by the University of Melbourne shows.

The research was based on data from the Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families, which involved input from 315 same-sex parents and a total of 500 children. Of these participating families, 80 percent had female parents while 18 percent had male parents.

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"It appears that same-sex parent families get along well and this has a positive impact on health," said Dr Simon Crouch from the Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program, Centre for Health Equity at the University of Melbourne.

"We know that same-sex attracted parents are more likely to share child care and work responsibilities more equitably than heterosexual parent families, based more on skills rather than gender roles. This appears to be contributing to a more harmonious household and having a positive impact on child health," he said.

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Children in same-sex parent families scored roughly six percent higher than the general population on measures of general health and family cohesion, according to the research. But within the categories of: temperament and mood, behavior, mental health, emotional role and self-esteem, these children scored the same as children from the general population.

However, the study flagged the issue of these children experiencing some form of stigma due to their parents' sexual orientation, impacting their mental and emotional wellbeing in the future.

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"Stigma can be subtle, such as letters home from school addressed to Mr and Mrs," Dr Crouch said.

"Or it can be overt and very harmful, in the form of bullying and abuse at school... What we have found is that the more stigma these families experience the greater the impact on the social and emotional wellbeing of children," he added.

The topic of same-sex parenting is topical in the Australian political arena at the moment.

Earlier this year, Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi's said "gold standard" for children's development is having a biological mother and father who are married.

Eleven percent of gay men and 33 percent of lesbian women in Australia have children, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

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