Study: Gay and lesbian parents are perfectly average

A new report finds that foster kids do just as well when paired with gay parents or straight parents

By Katie McDonough

Published October 19, 2012 4:00PM (EDT)

                                    (Flickr Creative Commons)
(Flickr Creative Commons)

A report out in the October issue of the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry finds that "high-risk" children adopted from foster care do just as well when matched with gay, lesbian or straight parents. Of the 82 foster children that psychologists at UCLA monitored for the study, 60 were placed with straight parents and 22 with gay or lesbian parents. After a two-year period of evaluation, the psychologists found little difference between the children's positive outcomes.

According to the study's lead author, doctoral candidate Justin Lavner, "The children showed meaningful gains in heterosexual, gay and lesbian families. Their cognitive development improved substantially, while their behavior problems and social development were stable."

There was, however, one important difference: Gay and lesbian parents were significantly more likely to adopt children with heightened risk factors -- such as premature birth, prenatal substance abuse or repeat placements in foster care. And yet, despite the additional challenges, these children made near-identical gains to the others in the study.

It seems that reports like this emerge every few months to lend scientific credence to what most consider common sense: gay and lesbian parents are ordinary parents. (Except, that is, when they're extraordinary parents.) They raise kids who go to school, play sports, listen to Justin Bieber (it's the law, I've heard) and whom they'll go on to embarrass later in life because -- like all parents -- they are terribly uncool. If only Focus on the Family would get the memo.

Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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