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Study: Children in same-sex families less apt to graduate than in mom-dad intact families

Canadian research says children in households headed by same-sex couples are less apt to graduate than those in married, opposite-sex households.
Canadian research says children in households headed by same-sex couples are less apt to graduate than those in married, opposite-sex households.

A new Canadian study based on that country's census says children in households headed by same-sex couples are less apt to graduate than those in married, opposite-sex households.

The study, by Douglas W. Allen from the Department of Economics at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, is published in the journal Review of the Economics of the Household.

According to the abstract: "Almost all studies of same-sex parenting have concluded that there is 'no difference' in a range of outcome measures for children who live in a household with same-sex parents compared to children living with married opposite-sex parents. Recently, some work based on the U.S. census has suggested otherwise, but those studies have considerable drawbacks. Here, a 20 percent sample of the 2006 Canada census is used to identify self-reported children living with same-sex parents, and to examine the association of household type with children’s high school graduation rates. This large random sample allows for control of parental marital status, distinguishes between gay and lesbian families, and is large enough to evaluate differences in gender between parents and children. Children living with gay and lesbian families in 2006 were about 65 percent as likely to graduate compared to children living in opposite sex marriage families. Daughters of same-sex parents do considerably worse than sons."

The study found that "Regardless of the controls and whether or not girls are currently living in a gay or lesbian household, the odds of graduating from high school are considerably lower than any other household type. Indeed, girls living in gay households are only 15 percent as likely to graduate compared to girls from opposite sex married homes."

The data used, according to the study, came from the 2006 Canada census 20 percent restricted master file. Allen wrote that he studied all children living with a parent in the home. "It is important to note that the census identifies children living with their parents, and not just adults. Hence, children of same sex parents are those who respond affirmative to the question: 'Are you a child of a male (female) same-sex married or common law couple?’ ”

The study considered all children living with two parents, regardless of sexual orientation. Children living with a gay or lesbian single parent would be included with single mothers and fathers in its data.

Of note, the researcher said, is how few same-sex couples with children between ages 17-22 (the ages to determine high school graduation) there are: 423 gay families and 969 lesbian families, or just over half of 1 percent of all couples with children in the age group.

Both the gay and lesbian parents are well-educated and more than 90 percent of them graduated from high school. Boys do better than girls in single-parent homes, but the difference is less pronounced than in same-sex households. Also, in terms of graduation, sons do better with fathers and girls do better with mothers.

The research is apt to be controversial. Wrote Powerline's Paul Mirengoff: "Other studies, of course, have found no harm associated with child-raising by same-sex couples. But Allen has criticized those studies because 'the samples are small and biased.' The people are 'self-selected,' he argues, adding that 'if you start with a biased sample, you can’t make a statement about the population as a whole.' Allen avoids this problem by using census data."

The author of an especially controversial previous study on same-sex parenting, Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas Austin, provided an analysis of Allen's new research for the Witherspoon Institute. The publication last year of his New Family Structures Study sparked heated debate, drawing both criticism and praise. It, too, found that children being raised by same-sex parents don't fare as well on a number of measures as those raised by married biological parents.

The American Psychological Association has disagreed. It said that "On the basis of a remarkably consistent body of research on lesbian and gay parents and their children, the American Psychological Association (APA) and other health professional and scientific organizations have concluded that there is no scientific evidence that parenting effectiveness is related to parental sexual orientation. That is, lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children. This body of research has shown that the adjustment, development and psychological well-being of children are unrelated to parental sexual orientation and that the children of lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those of heterosexual parents to flourish."

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