Children Of Gay Male Parents
Negative myths, images, and stereotypes about individuals who identify themselves as lesbian or gay and their ability to parent children are created, perpetuated, and maintained at multiple levels of society. One area that has received considerable attention is the impact lesbian and gay parents have on various aspects of development in their children. The results of recent investigations dispel many of these myths.
The home environment. Historically, concerns about the stability of committed gay relationships, the quality of gay parenting, and the nature of the parent-child relationships in households headed by gay males have been raised. However, research has not supported these concerns. On the contrary, the relationship dynamics of gay parents and their children parallel those of heterosexual father-child relationships. For example, gay male and heterosexual couples report similar types and levels of relationship satisfaction, supportive interactions, and conflict (Patterson and Chan 1996). Given comparable environments, the evidence suggests no significant differences in the psychosocial, emotional, and sexual development of children raised by gay and heterosexual couples (Patterson 2000). Sexual orientation and risk for sexual abuse. Considerable investigative efforts have focused on determining the likelihood that gay parents will have children who are gay due to their exposure to a homosexual home environment. Findings indicate, however, that the majority of children raised by gay men grow up to identify themselves as heterosexual (Patterson and Chan 1996). Furthermore, Bailey, Bobrow, Wolfe, and Mikach (1995) report that the frequency of contact or the length of time children live with their gay fathers does not seem to affect the child's ultimate sexual identity; that is, those who live with gay fathers for long periods of time are no more likely to be lesbian or gay than those who do not.
Another persistent myth about gay male parents is that they are more likely to sexually abuse their children than are their heterosexual counterparts. However, research indicates that children, particularly girls, are at a far greater risk to be sexually abused by adult heterosexual males (Jones and McFarlane 1980). Although some gay males do perpetrate sexual abuse toward children, they are no more likely to do so than are heterosexual males (Jenny, Roesler, and Poyer 1994). The image of gay men as child molesters is a destructive myth that continues to pervade society despite evidence to the contrary.