Discrimination, not same-sex parents, is harming children, a major new study has shown.
The comprehensive report, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, disproves the notion that children require a mother and father to succeed – one of the main arguments used by opponents of same-sex marriage and adoption.
Three decades of peer-reviewed research by Melbourne Children’s, a group of four child health organisations, found that children raised by same-sex couples performed just as well socially, educationally and emotionally as their peers.
Titled The Kids Are OK: It Is Discrimination Not Same-Sex Parents That Harms Children, the report has been released as Australia enters the final days of its non-binding marriage equality postal vote.
The report’s authors hope that the findings will help dispel myths and harmful misconceptions about same-sex parenting.
“It is family processes – parenting quality, parental wellbeing, the quality of and satisfaction with relationships within the family – rather than family structures that make a more meaningful difference to children’s wellbeing and positive development,” they said.
Unsurprisingly, the study also found that discrimination from other people (such as homophobic backlash to same-sex marriage and adoption) is what causes harm to children, not having two parents of the same gender.
“The negative and discriminatory rhetoric of the current marriage equality debate is damaging the most vulnerable members of our community – children and adolescents,” the study’s senior author Professor Frank Oberklaid said.
“It’s essential that we recognise the potential for the debate about marriage equality to cause harm for our children and young people.”
Additionally, the study found that young people who themselves express diversity in sexual orientation or gender identity experience some of the highest levels of physiological distress in Australia.
“Young LGBTIQ+ people are much more likely to experience poor mental health, self-harm and suicide than other young people,” Oberklaid said.
“Sadly, this is largely attributed to the harassment, stigma and discrimination they and other LGBTIQ+ individuals and communities face in our society.”