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Children of GLBTQ Parents  
 
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Still, scholars have begun to recognize more carefully the subtle distinctions between the different ways that same-sex couples and glbtq people have children. As scholars have noted, children born to lesbian mothers via artificial insemination face different issues--especially in terms of access to medical history and learning more about their origins--from those who were conceived in heterosexual relationships, where the trauma of their parents' separation or divorce may be more of an issue than their mother's sexual orientation. Despite this awareness of potential differences, studies that focus specifically on children who were adopted or exclusively on the children of gay men who choose to parent after coming out are still lacking.

Although a scholarly consensus has emerged that children reared by same-sex couples reveal no major differences in terms of emotional adjustment and development from those reared in heterosexual families, some scholars have probed this research to discover subtle differences in these children.

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For example, Judith Stacey and Timothy Biblarz's 2001 review of 21 studies on the children of gay and lesbian parenting published from 1981 to 1998 suggests that children who grow up in families with same-sex parents or that accept homosexuality may, in fact, reveal particular strengths. They observed that children of lesbian mothers were less likely to adhere to or believe in traditional gender roles. Moreover, despite the difficulties they sometimes faced from the homophobia of peers, many children of glbtq parents ultimately developed strong identities based on their differences.

Same-Sex Marriage Debates

In recent years the debate surrounding same-sex marriage has intensified the discussion about glbtq parenting. Often opponents of same-sex marriage and gay rights generally use their putative concern for children as the focus of their opposition. For example, they describe marriage's primary purpose as the rearing of children, in spite of the fact that producing children has never been a legal or religious requirement for marriage, and argue that since same-sex couples are unable to have their own children biologically they ought not to be able to marry (though they never argue that infertile heterosexual couples should be prohibited from marrying).

At the same time, they also discredit same-sex couples who have or want children by arguing that such families harm children or do not deserve civil recognition for their partnerships because homosexuality is immoral and antithetical to family values. For such opponents, the welfare and interests of children are best served by a family headed by a man and a woman who are married.

In rebuttal, however, proponents of same-sex marriage argue that by denying same-sex couples the rights and privileges of marriage, many of which foster a more stable environment for children, the state endangers children being reared by same-sex couples. They rightfully point out the contradictory logic of those who oppose same-sex marriage in the name of protecting children by highlighting the lack of legal protection afforded same-sex couples and their children without access to the rights and responsibilities of marriage.

Recent political debates in Canada illustrate the tendency of those who oppose same-sex marriage and glbtq parenting to ignore research that undermines their political goals. In 2003, after opponents of same-sex marriage called for additional research into child-rearing by same-sex couples, the Liberal Canadian government commissioned a study by developmental psychologist Paul Hastings on child development in a number of different family structures.

Hastings reached the same conclusion as other reputable researchers: children are not harmed by being reared by homosexual parents. His study even found that children might slightly benefit from this experience, because same-sex parents tend to share child-rearing and household responsibilities more equitably, thus creating a more harmonious household, and they are slightly more effective at socializing their children.

Moreover, Hastings noted that glbtq parents may work harder at being good parents precisely because they are aware of the discrimination that their children may face: "Perhaps anticipating that their children may be at risk of social disadvantage due to discrimination, gay and lesbian parents may put extra effort into meeting the needs of their children and providing them with strong social and emotional resources."

When Hastings' study was completed in 2007, however, the government of Canada had changed, and Stephen Harper's Conservative government was committed to reversing Canada's historic legalization of same-sex marriage. Despite the demand for additional research by opponents of same-sex marriage, the government buried Hastings' study even though it was supremely relevant to Parliament's debate on whether to reopen the question of same-sex marriage. The report came to light only as a result of a suit under the Access to Information Act.

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