Akilah Bolden-Monifa’s June 6 “Camera” guest opinion, “Study reveals same-sex parenting good for kids,” brought my attention to a longitudinal lesbian family study published recently in “Pediatrics,” the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The study set out to document the psychological adjustment of adolescents conceived through donor insemination by lesbian mothers from conception to adulthood. So, between 1986 and 1992, 154 prospective lesbian mothers volunteered for this ongoing study where the “offspring” provided the data through interviews and questionnaires, the mothers through interviews and Child Behavior Checklists.
The results are no surprise given the sources. They have a strong incentive to show themselves in “good light” and the mothers have “an enormous political incentive” to “ensure upbringing is exemplary,” as noted by Neil E. Whitehead, research assistant from New Zealand, in response to the study.
Lesbian mothers rated their children “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 in Achenbach’s normative sample of American youth.”
Does that make it so? No. Pediatrician Daniel Trementozzi said, they study’s authors chose not to include sources with possible contradictory results like reports from teachers.
“On the surface it appears that the study authors are only reporting data that supports a specific, predetermined view-point., Trementozzi said. “I will not be referencing this article or results as valid until ALL of the data is made public for review.”
Also, the study was extremely small and subjects were not randomly selected. Though it would be difficult to reach these measures, the data is of little worth without them.
However, the study does show what lengths lesbian mothers and their supporters will stride in their struggle for validation. Tim Gill’s LGBT foundation and the Gay Lesbian Medical Association provided grants along with others.
Nevertheless, the study goes way beyond validating lesbian mothers. It questions the role of fathers.
“Is the implication that fathers are an undesirable component of the family, to be taken at face value?” asked Robert P. Sundel, Physician at Children’s Hospital Boston, before suggesting the need for a better study.
But the fatherhood question goes even deeper. It puts into question the “fitness of male parents, regardless of sexual orientation, placing gay father couples at risk for being seen as even less fit than couples with only one father,” said Alex I. Kartashov, biostatistician from Policy Analysis Inc.
So, while Bolden-Monifa said this study “flies in the face of public opinion against same-sex marriage and parenting,” I see this study as flawed. It does little more than to show mothers who focused on their children had favorable results through their own eyes.
I am sure whether a child is raised by a single mother, two mothers, a grandmother or two grandmothers, or fathers and grandfathers in the mix, paying attention to a set of criteria can improve the outcome based on that criteria. And praising the children can only help.