The desire for people, especially women, to have children is of course normal, but one has to ask if homosexual or lesbian parenting is desirable. Homosexuals may claim that there is no reason why they should not raise children, that sexual preference has nothing to do with the issue of good parenting. But does the evidence bear this out? Initial research is beginning to show that children do suffer from being raised by same-sex parents.
One person who has spent a lot of time looking into this question is psychologist Dr Joe Nicolosi. He argues that kids raised by homosexuals are traumatised, emotionally and socially. Children, he argues, are profoundly affected by parental behaviour. For example, children of smokers often become smokers.
“Homosexuality,” says Nicolosi, “is primarily an identity problem, not a sexual problem, and it begins in childhood. The process begins when a child realizes that the world is divided between male and female and that he is not equipped to be identified as male. His father fails to sufficiently encourage male-gender identity. Because he is not fully male-gender-identified, he is not psychologically prepared to feel heterosexual attractions. In order to be attracted to women, a male must feel sufficiently masculine. Faced with this predicament, he goes into a world of fantasy and denies the imperative of being either male or female.”
The absence of role models presents other problems. How will a man raised by two men know how to relate to a woman? Or how will a man raised by two women know how to relate to men? Thus the Beatles were wrong: love is not all you need, at least when it comes to parenting. As two family experts point out: “The two most loving mothers in the world can’t be a father to a little boy. Love can’t equip mothers to teach a little boy how to be a man. Likewise, the two most loving men can’t be a mother to a child.”
They continue, “Love does little to help a man teach a little girl how to be a woman. Can you imagine two men guiding a young girl through her first menstrual cycle or helping her through the awkwardness of picking out her first bra? Such a situation might make for a funny television sitcom but not a very good real-life situation for a young girl.”
One woman who was raised by lesbians now runs a support and recovery program for those coming out of the homosexual lifestyle and their families. She put it this way: “I realise that homosexuals feel they can give a child love and support that even many straight families can’t provide, but I’ve been there. I know the finger-pointing and the shame one carries. For years, you struggle with the thought that you might be a homosexual. People say ‘like mother, like daughter.’ Most of us become promiscuous to prove we’re straight.”
Another woman says this of her upbringing by two homosexuals: “From 40 years of experience, I can tell you that, even though my father loved me, his homosexual orientation handicapped my ability to learn to relate to life in a healthy way. My homosexual home stunted my growth as a person and as a woman, not to mention the damaging effect of 16 years of drugs and alcohol abuse on my early childhood development. I spent the first 20 years of my life in a family that nearly destroyed me and the last 20 years analyzing and being analyzed in order to make sense of it. The bottom line is: I was dearly loved by my father. His love alone was not enough to give me the foundation that I needed to grow into a secure young woman…. My father and I have looked back through the past and discussed the issue of homosexual parenting. With great remorse, he agrees the homosexual lifestyle, no matter how conservative, is not healthy for children. My father and I agree: homosexuality and raising healthy children exclude each other.”
Here is another person who can speak from experience in this area. A lesbian mother has publicly expressed her regret at bearing three children through artificial insemination. The New Zealand woman, who says she is “now in the process of becoming a heterosexual,” had a stormy relationship with her lesbian lover, which eventually broke down. Her comments are worth noting: “I realise now that I deprived my kids of their right to a father, and I see the hurt in their faces every day. . . . I believe children should have the best opportunities in life. The best way they can have a balanced view of what is normal is with heterosexual parents.”
However, some people claim that children raised in same-sex households suffer no ill-effects, and may even do better than children raised in heterosexual families. How are we to assess such studies?
First, there are many studies that have arrived at the opposite conclusion. For example, a study of Australian primary school children from three family types (married heterosexual couples, cohabiting heterosexual couples and homosexual couples) found that in every area of educational endeavour (language; mathematics; social studies; sport; class work, sociability and popularity; and attitudes to learning), children from married heterosexual couples performed the best, while children from homosexual couples performed the worst. The study concludes with these words: “[M]arried couples seem to offer the best environment for a child’s social and educational development”.
And a major American study arrived at these conclusions: “children of homosexuals will 1) be more frequently subjected to parental instability (of residence and sexual partners) and 2) have poorer peer and adult relationships. Also, as is held to be true of their parents, homosexuals’ children will be more apt to 3) become homosexual, 4) be unstable (have emotional problems and difficulty forming lasting bonds) with reduced interest in natality, and 5) be sexually precocious and promiscuous”.
Second, most of these studies purporting to show that children raised in same-sex households do as well as other children have been roundly criticised for methodological shortcomings. One meta-analysis of 49 such studies found a number of methodological flaws. These include the lack of any proper hypothesis statement, the problem of affirming the null hypothesis, the lack of proper comparison groups, the problem of measurement error and probability, neglect of extraneous variables, and so on. On a less technical level, these studies suffer from small sample sizes, lack of a proper control group, inadequacy of self-reporting, and lack of proper timeframe (longitudinal analysis).
Consider self-reporting. Most of these studies simply ask the children how they enjoy their same-sex parents. Not surprisingly, they don’t find any problems. But what child is going to bag his or her own parents? Indeed, if that is all they have known, it is even more difficult to criticise it. Thus scientific objectivity is sorely lacking in these types of studies. And since gay parenting is relatively recent, most children in same-sex households are relatively young. So asking 10-year-olds about their social, mental and psychological well-being may not result in very reliable data.
But many of the children in same-sex households originally came from heterosexual families, making measurement more difficult. How much of their well-being or lack of it is attributable to heterosexual upbringing, and how much is attributable to homosexual upbringing?
Interestingly, two American sociologists who are openly supportive of the homosexual agenda have recently admitted that bias is a real factor in these studies. They declare that “heterosexism” has “hampered the intellectual progress in the field” and show that in these studies the researchers “frequently downplay findings indicating difference regarding children’s gender and sexual preferences and behavior that could stimulate important theoretical questions”. After examining the findings of 21 psychological studies published between 1981 and 1998, they “identified conceptual, methodological, and theoretical limitations in the psychological research on the effects of parental sexual orientation and … challenged the predominant claim that the sexual orientation of parents does not matter at all”. Indeed, they “recognise the political dangers” of pointing out the truth that “children with lesbigay parents are themselves apt to engage in homosexual activity”.
Thus, the so-called evidence that gay parenting is just as beneficial as heterosexual parenting has been examined and found wanting. The remarks of one group of researchers who reviewed 14 of these gay parenting studies are worth noting. Their “most impressive finding” was that “all of the studies lacked external validity. The conclusion that there are no significant differences in children raised by lesbian mothers versus heterosexual mothers is not supported by the published data base”.
Finally, one must recall why adoption laws have been established in the first place. Because young children are so vulnerable, the aim of adoption has been to provide the child in question with a secure, permanent, legal family. The paramount concern in adoption has been the best interests of the child. Thus only the best families have been allowed to adopt, not just “good enough” families. The issue of homosexual fostering is really all about homosexual rights, not the interests and needs of children.
Can a homosexual couple love and nurture a child? Undoubtedly many can. But that is not the issue. As the former vice president of the National Council for Adoption in the US has put it, “providing a nurturing environment is not enough. A homosexual parent cannot provide the parental experience of a parent of the opposite sex, and this is as critical to the child as anything else. When discussing a child’s needs, it is not just a discussion of what a particular parent can provide – it is just as important to consider what a parent cannot provide and, in this case, it is half of a child’s needed parenting experience.”
In sum, we should not be talking so cavalierly about homosexual adoption rights. We should not be treating children as guinea pigs in a radical social experiment. The rights of children, not the desires of adults, should be our primary concern.