Lesbian mothers: ©Getty via telegraph.co.ukThough studies have been conducted on social development and adjustment in teens raised by same sex partners, many of those children started out in heterosexual families. In the first research published on 17 year-old kids born and raised by a self-identified lesbian mother, scientists have had the opportunity to compare the groups on equal terms.
The researchers, Nanette Gartrell, professor of psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) - also a law professor at UCLA - and Henry Bos, a behavioral scientist at the University of Amsterdam, tracked children of 154 lesbian mothers who enrolled in a longitudinal study between 1986 and 1992. These mothers, some in lesbian partnerships and some single, had all become pregnant through artificial insemination. The researchers followed the children and the mothers for 17 years, administering questionnaires for the children at ages 10 and now, at 17, through Child Behavior Checklists.
The results of age-matched children of heterosexual parents were compared to the data from the Child Behavior Checklists, based on results of the Achenbach's normative sample of American youth.
Most data compared positively with the heterosexually-raised children. The sons and daughters of lesbian mothers, in fact, were rated "significantly higher in social, school/academic, and total competence and significantly lower in social problems, rule-breaking, aggressive, and externalizing problem behavior than their age-matched counterparts."
The researchers found that 41 percent of the lesbian-raised children reported being victims of teasing, ostracism or discrimination relating directly to their parentage, but the researchers said that at age 17, the children were less psychologically affected by it than when they were 10.
Gartrell theorizes that the reasons for the positive skew in the psycho-social adjustment data is that lesbian parents are more aware of the ridicule their children may face and prepare them for it as much as possible. This may include introducing them to diversity, sexuality, and tolerance at an earlier age, so the children mature earlier.
Though this study is ongoing, Gatrell is looking forward to collecting more data on gay father households.
US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Psychological Adjustment of 17-Year-Old Adolescents via Time Magazine