Pediatricians and children’s health experts say the same-sex marriage debate has harmed children’s health, as they release a new Australian study found children raised in same-sex-parented families do just as well as children raised by heterosexual couple parents.
The paper’s authors said they wanted the research to quash “misinformation” about children of same-sex couples that had circulated during the same-sex marriage postal survey campaign and pointed out that their results had been replicated in independent studies in Australia and internationally.
The analysis of three decades of studies, released by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and published in the Medical Journal of Australia, found children of same-sex parents do just as well emotionally, educationally and socially as children raised in traditional families.
“The findings of these studies reflect a broader consensus within the fields of family studies and psychology,” researchers said.
“It is family processes – parenting quality, parental wellbeing, the quality of and satisfaction with relationships within the family – rather than family structures that make a more meaningful difference to children’s wellbeing and positive development.”
But the study did find that young people who expressed diversity in their sexual orientation or gender identity experienced some of the highest rates of psychological distress in Australia.
“Young LGBTIQ+ people are much more likely to experience poor mental health, self-harm and suicide than other young people,” lead author Professor Frank Oberklaid said.
“Sadly, this is largely attributed to the harassment, stigma and discrimination they and other LGBTIQ+ individuals and communities face in our society.”
He warned that the postal survey debate had been harmful, and it was “essential that we recognise the potential for the debate to cause harm for our children and young people” in the postal survey’s final weeks.
“The negative and discriminatory rhetoric of the current marriage equality debate is damaging the most vulnerable members of our community – children and adolescents,” he said.
He said there was evidence in countries that had legalised same-sex marriage that the reform had a positive impact on the mental health and wellbeing of same-sex-parented families and LGBTIQ+ young people.
If you need someone to talk to, help is available from QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at QLife.org.au, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.