Children with same-sex parents outperform other children on multiple indicators of academic achievement, new research shows.
Using data from Dutch population registers, the University of Melbourne and University of Queensland study found children in same-sex-parented families scored higher on national standardised tests than those in different-sex-parented families.
The advantage amounted to 13% of a standard deviation, which is comparable to the advantage associated with both parents being employed as opposed to being out of work, and challenges claims that children with same-sex parents are inherently disadvantaged.
Interestingly, the study also found that children in same-sex-parented families were slightly more likely (1.5%) to graduate from high school, and much more likely (11.2%) to enrol in university than children in different-sex-parented families.
Dr Jan Kabátek, the study’s lead author and a University of Melbourne research fellow, said the implications for schools are twofold.
“From the institutional standpoint, the school leaders should aim at fostering inclusive environments for children who are growing up in non-traditional family structures,” Dr Kabátek told The Educator.
“Avoiding situations which could lead to ostracization or shaming of either the children or their parents is something we should certainly strive for”.
Dr Kabátek said that from the educational standpoint, school leaders could put more emphasis on same-sex issues in the students’ curricula.
“Informed discussions based on rigorous research can help us break down some of the preconceived notions about same-sex parenting”.
When ‘common wisdom’ is wrong
In Australia, the latest World Values Survey found 45% of people believed same-sex parents were not as good parents as others.
Dr Kabátek said that while these beliefs are often justified by ‘common wisdom’ argument, they are rarely backed up by empirical evidence.
“These include perceptions that children necessitate both male and female parental role models to thrive, that non-biological parents invest less effort in parenting their children, or that children in same-sex-parented families would be ostracized by the community,” he said.
“Altogether, the message stemming from our findings is clear: being raised by same-sex parents bears no independent detrimental effect on children’s outcomes”.