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So, over the last summer, I had quite a few fascinating, in-depth conversations with people across the globe in my intro to psychology class. The most provocative threads was likely regarding sexual orientation, and one man's question on whether or not it was a mental illness, because his daughter was gay. I was never quite sure if he was trolling or genuinely seeking answers, but for the most part, the threads he started stayed respectful and full of a huge exchange of information and cultural reactions.
Also, the answer is no. It is not a mental illness. It was stripped of that misguided label in the '70s, and despite the Brazilian government's backwards move, it still is not, has never been and never will be an illness, a choice or a 'lifestyle.'
Of course, the core questions he wanted to know were if he had caused it and if it could harm his grandson (which he believed strongly that it would, because he had a clear ignorance of the topic--hence asking questions to dispel it--and issues of his own to work with, as well as a belief that two women can't raise a boy properly).
In case any of my readers are under the delusion that healthy non-heterosexual parents will do a poor job (or even a statistically different job) of raising children (regardless of the child's gender), here are some of the resources I provided him:
"Extensive data available from more than 30 years of research reveal that children raised by gay and lesbian parents have demonstrated resilience with regard to social, psychological, and sexual health despite economic and legal disparities and social stigma."
"...when measuring same-sex parent households against heterosexual households on a number of key health indicators, such as self-esteem, emotional well-being and the amount of time spent with parents, gay and straight-parent families match up well.
However, the researchers found that on measures of general health and family cohesion something cropped up in the data that was quite interesting. Children aged 5-17 in a same-sex parent household scored significantly higher on these wellness measures than kids from straight parent families."
Sometimes people are concerned that children being raised by a gay parent will need extra emotional support or face unique social stressors.Current research shows that children with gay and lesbian parents do not differ from children with heterosexual parents in their emotional development or in their relationships with peers and adults. It is important for parents to understand that it is the the quality of the parent/child relationship and not the parent’s sexual orientation that has an effect on a child’s development. Research has shown that in contrast to common beliefs, children of lesbian, gay, or transgender parents:
- Are not more likely to be gay than children with heterosexual parents.
- Are not more likely to be sexually abused.
- Do not show differences in whether they think of themselves as male or female (gender identity).
- Do not show differences in their male and female behaviors (gender role behavior).
“On the basis of a remarkably consistent body of research on lesbian and gay parents and their children, the American Psychological Association (APA) and other health professional and scientific organizations have concluded that there is no scientific evidence that parenting effectiveness is related to parental sexual orientation. That is, lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children. This body of research has shown that the adjustment, development and psychological well-being of children are unrelated to parental sexual orientation and that the children of lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those of heterosexual parents to flourish.”