create family with other LGBTQ people. Forming their own family is now considered an act of sexual
orientation expression for many people in the world (Badgett, 2009; LaSala, 2010). Research reveals that
when LGBTQ people can integrate sexual orientation into their families and familial relationships, they
experience a greater likelihood of sexual well-being (Badgett & Herman, 2011; Herdt & Koff, 2000; Ryan
et al., 2009).
Can Same-Sex Couples Raise Well-Adjusted Children?
Some political and social commentators believe that people can learn to be gay and so allowing gay
parents to raise children can make them gay (Irvine, 2002; Stacey & Biblarz, 2001). For example, in 2008
when voters in California were to vote about legalizing same-sex marriage, a television commercial
strongly hinted that young children would “learn” to be gay if same-sex marriage was made legal. No
empirical evidence supports the notion that sexual attractions can be taught or learned in this way
(Cianciotto & Cahill, 2010). In fact, researchers have found that this belief that people can teach others to
be gay is a form of prejudice against sexual minorities (Herek, 2004).
One meta-analysis of 21 studies of LGBTQ parents did show small differences between straight and gay
parenting, but these differences appear to be generally positive in nature, not negative (Stacey & Biblarz,
2001). For example, daughters of lesbian couples aspire to occupations more traditionally filled by men
compared to their heterosexual peers (Stacey & Biblarz, 2001). The researchers also found gender
differences in the behavior of the offspring of gay and lesbian families. Boys raised by lesbian mothers,
for example, tended to be less assertive than traditionally raised males. There was, however, no statistical
difference showing that children are more likely to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
Another study in The Netherlands looked at 100 heterosexual couples and 100 lesbian couples with
children ages 4 to 8 who were raised by these couples since birth (Bos, van Balen, & van den Boom,
2007). Data were collected using questionnaires, observations, and a diary of activities to understand if
there were differences in child adjustment, parental characteristics, and child rearing. The researchers
found that lesbian mothers who were not the biological mothers differ from heterosexual fathers in certain