The Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families (ACHESS) shows that the children are not only “thriving,” but have higher rates of “family cohesion,” or getting along with their family. The University of Melbourne study is the largest of its kind, and aims to determine the “complete physical, mental and social well-being” of children with at least one same-sex attracted parent.
An initial finding from the world’s largest study on children of same-sex parents finds that these children are doing “as well or better than the rest of the population on a number of key health indicators,” according to The Age. The study shows, children of same-sex couples tend to get along better with their families.
The study’s lead researcher, Dr. Simon Crouch, believes that “because of the situation that same-sex families find themselves in, they are generally more willing to communicate and approach the issues that any child may face at school, like teasing or bullying.” Crouch said the researchers’ hypothesis would be that “this fosters openness and means children tend to be more resilient.”
The Australian Senate defeated marriage equality last September and will not address the issue again until after this year’s general election, AlterNet reports. Australia’s former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd recently came out for marriage equality, explaining that the well-being of children of same-sex couples was his main hang-up.
In the United States, the American Academy of Pediatrics formally endorsed marriage equality in March, stating that their parents’ marriage has a positive effect on children, regardless of their parents’ gender or sexual orientation. “Marriage equality can help reduce the social stigma faced by lesbian and gay parents and their children, thereby enhancing social stability, acceptance, and support,” their report concluded.
Still, many conservative Americans include welfare of the children as an argument against marriage equality. While this argument is clearly uninformed, given that plenty of American children are raised by single mothers or fathers, or even grandmothers, aunts, godmothers, or friends, conservatives insist that it is part of the reason same-sex couples should not be married.
Last month, The Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson and the National Organization for Marriage’s former chairman Robert George released A Millennial Case for Marriage, which argues that “children do best with a mother and father,” ThinkProgress reports. Without referencing a single sources, the reports states that “For decades, social science has shown that children tend to do best when reared by their married mother and father.”
This antiquated refrain has more evidence stacked against it every day, with studies like the ACHESS. Children raised by loving parents who are genuinely happy to have them will turn out just fine, despite who those parents may be. And the Australian study proves that there may even be some things same-sex parents do better than average.
Parents of three, Kate Coghlan and Susan Rennie talked to The Age about their children and family life: “We talk about everything,” they said. “[Our children] are very accepting and more tolerating of diversity.”
Alisha is a writer and researcher for Ring of Fire.