New Study: Children of Same-Sex Parents Make Normal School Progress

A new study has found that children of same-sex parents are making progress through primary school at the same rate as children of opposite-sex couples. This will come as no surprise to most readers here; you’ve likely already read about this study and this one, which found that children of same-sex couples are just as well adjusted as any others. The big thing about this new study, however, is that it is big.

Lead researcher, sociologist Michael Rosenfeld of Stanford University explains in the latest issue of Demographics that earlier studies have been criticized for using small samples. He therefore went for the biggest sample he could find: the U.S. Census, “the only nationally representative data set with a large enough sample of children raised by same-sex couples to allow for statistically powerful comparisons with children of other family types.”

His conclusions? “To the extent that normal progress through primary school is a useful and valid measure of child development, the results confirm that children of same-sex couples appear to have no inherent developmental disadvantage.”

Duh—but bless you, Professor Rosenfeld, for putting statistics behind the “duh” for all those who still need them.

Rosenfeld did find that children of opposite-sex couples do show a slightly smaller rate of grade retention (being held back a grade)—but one then has to factor in that “Heterosexual married couples are the most economically prosperous, the most likely to be white, and the most legally advantaged type of parents.” Rosenfeld then concluded, “After parental SES [socioeconomic status] is accounted for, the disadvantage of children of same-sex couples (when compared with children of the most advantaged family group) is too small to be statistically significant.”

What is a significant predictor of educational outcomes is whether a child has been in a group home. The odds of a child making normal progress through school are more than twice as high when he or she lives with a cohabitating couple—same- or opposite-sex—than when he or she is in a group home.

And that also has significant implications for public policy:

Children not living in group quarters, including children in households headed by same-sex couples, are dramatically more likely to make normal progress through school than students living in group quarters. Any policy that would deny gay and lesbian parents the right to adopt or foster children would force some children to remain in group quarters. A longer stay in group quarters would seem to be contrary to the best interest of the children.

At which point I refer you to my piece on the pending adoption decision in Florida.

Photo credit: wired_gr