Children of lesbian couples are NOT affected by lack of male role models, claims controversial new study
New research refutes recent report claiming children of same-sex parents are more prone to psychological problems as adults
17:13 GMT, 21 June 2012
A new paper contradicts claims that children of same-sex parents are prone to experience psychological problems as adults.
The U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS) examined how the lack of a male role model affects the children of lesbian couples.
Using the testimonies of 78 teenagers, researchers in Amsterdam and California determined that neither the presence nor lack of a father figure affected their gender development or their psychological well being.
Happy families: A new study has found that the children of lesbian couples are not affected by the lack of a male role model
The findings shed light on a highly debated subject and follow hot on the heels of the University of Texas' widely criticised study published last week.
Led by Henny Bos of the University of Amsterdam and Nanette Gartrell of UCLA's Williams Institute, the NLLFS is the first and only study to have recorded the progress of children from same sex couples since conception.
Dr Gartrell explained to MailOnline: 'Our [study] is an in-depth, longitudinal, prospective (meaning it is happening in real time, not asking questions about events that occurred 30 years ago) study of PLANNED lesbian families (meaning that the mothers were OUT, IDENTIFIED AS LESBIAN before the children we have been studying were born) that began 26 years ago.'
The investigation kicked off in 1986 and has spawned many sub-papers, the most recent of which looked at the 39 girls and 39 boys as they turned 17.
The teenagers were asked whether they had grown up with male role models and if so whether that person was a biological father, a grandfather, a cousin, teacher or even friend.
Of the 78 participants, 38 indicated that they had indeed enjoyed the influence of an important male role model in their lives and of these, roughly half were boys and half were girls.
Given ten adjectives that described typically feminine traits and ten that reflected those we've come to understand as masculine, the teens were asked to rate each word as it pertained to their own personality and character.
The results showed that the presence of a male role model did affect the way a child developed its own gender traits.
'Our study is happening in real time, not asking questions about events that occurred 30 years ago'
Another exercise asked the subjects to rate buzzwords that described feelings such as anxiety, depressed, angry or curious and found again, that whether or not they had a male role model did affect their mental health.
As Dr Gartrell put it to Buzzfeed: 'The adolescents are doing very well.'
Dr Mark Regerus of the University of Texas, however, was sceptical about the Dr Bos and Dr Gartrell's findings and based his criticism on their study candidates' backgrounds, 87per cent of which are white and about 57pre cent middle-class.
He told Buzzfeed that he doubted whether such a small sampling of 'of largely well-educated, mostly-white women' could truthful represent lesbian families nationwide.
Though the NFFLS team were reluctant to compare the two they did point out the importance of the length of their study and how closely they had managed to follow the parents and children by visiting them at home and recording development with 'with paper, pencil, and tape recorders.'
Dr Regerus' report on the other hand looked at 3,000 children whose parents had at one time or another been involved in a same-sex relationship but who were not necessarily in one now or even identified themselves as gay or lesbian.
In contrast, though half of the parents in the NFFLS study who had started families together in 1986 had since divorced or split up, they were all still co-parenting and providing as stable an environment for the children as possible in such circumstances.