Kids With Lesbian Parents Report Higher Self-Esteem Than Kids With Heterosexual Parents: Study

02/25/2014 04:34 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

Same-sex parents might still have an uphill battle to forge, but a new study seems to provide a helpful push in the right direction.

In a study billed as the first to compare adolescent-parent relationships and adolescent well-being in intact lesbian and heterosexual families, children of lesbians reported having higher self-esteem and lower conduct problems than those of heterosexual couples.

“By controlling for variables that might otherwise impact child outcomes, this study provides further evidence that raising children in families headed by same-sex couples is not a significant predictor of adolescent-parent relationships or of a child’s psychological adjustment,” principal investigator Henny Bos, Ph.D., a former visiting international scholar at the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law and professor at the University of Amsterdam, said in a press release published by the Williams Institute on Monday.

The study compared 51 Dutch children (25 girls and 26 boys) born to lesbian parents through donor insemination with 51 demographically similar teens from heterosexual parents. The children matched in age, gender, education and birth country. The participants were asked to fill out questionnaires to measure parent-child relationship, child psychological adjustment and child substance use.

Children of lesbian parents reported higher self-esteem scores and lower conduct problem scores than the children of heterosexual parents. On all other variables, including child-parent relationship and personal well-being, there was no difference in the scoring.

So, what does this mean? Study co-author Dr. Nanette Gartrell told The Huffington Post such research shows "child and adolescent outcomes have more to do with the quality of parenting than the sexual orientation of the parents."

However, researchers did admit the study had some limitations, including the participants' self-reported responses. They said a future study could also look for feedback from other observers, such as teachers, who are close to the participants.

The battle over same-sex parenting is an ongoing one, and many opponents argue these relationships put children at risk. The conservative Christian group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is currently using this argument to fight against Oklahoma's overturned ban on same-sex marriage, the Associated Press reports.

The ADF cited courts and anthropologists in an effort to prove children are better off in homes with a "traditional" mother and father.

"Marriage encourages mothers and fathers to remain together and care for the children born of their union," the filing said, according to the AP. Severing the link, it said, "would powerfully convey that marriage exists to advance adult desires rather than serving children's needs."

However, multiple studies have contradicted this sort of ideology.

Last year, the Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families conducted the world's largest study comparing same-sex parents to heterosexual parents and found that children of gay couples are thriving in terms of health and familial wellness, Think Progress reported.

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