Having Same-Sex Parents Doesn’t Influence Whether Their Kids Adhere To Gender Norms, Study Shows

"Our results suggest that the gender development of children adopted by both lesbian and gay parents proceeds in typical ways," says researcher Rachel Farr.

There’s no significant difference in the gender identities of children raised by same-sex couples than reared by heterosexual couples, according to a new report published in the journal Sex Roles.

University of Kentucky researcher Rachel Farr surveyed more than 100 families headed by both adoptive gay and straight parents, looking at how gender-typical behavior developed in their children.

Vice on HBO

Her team observed the play styles and toys that preschool children preferred during playtime, interviewing parents and returning five years later to interview the more mature children. Even in preschool, the majority of children were leaning toward behavior and play that followed traditional gender norms.

Speaking with the kids as elementary school students, Farr found the ones who didn’t follow rigid gender norms preferred activities and aspired to jobs not stereotypically ascribed to their gender. But whether their parents were gay or straight had no noticeable impact.

“Parental sexual orientation and family type did not affect children’s gender conformity or nonconformity in any significant way,” Farr stated. “Our results suggest that the gender development of children adopted by both lesbian and gay parents proceeds in typical ways, and is similar to that of children adopted by heterosexual couples.”

Jb Reed/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The report, says Farr, suggests that the absence of male and female role models in the home doesn’t impact gender conformity one way or the other. (The toys that children choose to play with in preschool were a better indicator.)

Farr hopes her research will help underscore that the sexual orientation of prospective parents should have no impact on their access to adoption.

A previous report by Farr revealed that children adopted into LGBT homes were not only well-adjusted in early childhood, but continue to thrive onward into their teen years.

“Longitudinal research offers insight into what factors may be the best or strongest predictors of children’s development, over and above information that can be gathered at only one time point,” she explained. “Regardless of parental sexual orientation, children… had fewer behavior problems over time when their adoptive parents indicated experiencing less parenting stress.”

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.
@ItsDanAvery