Women in lesbian relationships experience more parental stress than straight couples.
A new study from the Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) suggested that such women could feel they are under a “cultural spotlight”.
Dr Nanette Gartrell, a visiting scholar at the Institute and co-author of the research, said that “lesbian mothers feel pressured to justify the quality of their parenting because of their sexual orientation”. This finding backs up the results of previous studies which have suggested that gay parents are judged more critically than their straight peers.
UCLA researchers compared family relationships, parental stress and children’s health among 95 same sex parent households and 95 homes with straight parents. Dr Gartrell said the study was the only one “to compare same-sex and different-sex parent households with stable, continuously coupled parents and their biological offspring”. The families were matched based on the parents’ age, education and where they lived in order to eliminate any influence from such factors when they made comparisons.
Aside from the stress, researchers found no significant differences between the two types of family. Children had similar levels of overall health and dealt with the same kinds of emotional difficulties.
Dr Gartrell said previous claims that children with same sex parents suffered did not hold up. Such assertions were based on families which experienced disruptions like divorce and separation. In homes where the parents remain “continuously coupled” it does not matter if they are straight or gay, she claimed.
The study was published in the academic Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.