Children of same-sex couples "at higher risk of depression and social issues as adults" – but experts say new study is flawed

Children of same-sex couples 'at higher risk of depression and social issues as adults' – but experts say new study is flawed

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UPDATED:

15:19 GMT, 11 June 2012

A new study claiming that children raised by same-sex couples are more likely to have social, psychological and physical problems as adults, has sparked criticism from child psychiatrists.

The research, conducted by the University of Texas at Austin, reported that those whose parents entered into a same-sex relationship at some point during their childhood, fared worse as adults.

But experts say the data is flawed because it is based on experiences 10-20 years ago, and a child raised by a same-sex couple now would have a different experience.

Flawed: A survey that found that same-sex couples raise 'worse' adults has been criticised by child psychologists

Flawed: A survey that found that same-sex couples raise 'worse' adults has been criticised by child psychologists. It has been deemed outdated by experts

The study, which was published on Sunday in the journal Social Science Research, looked at nearly 3,000 Americans aged between 18-39.

Of that number, 163 said that their mother had been in a same-sex relationship and 73 revealed that their father had done the same.

Those children were found to be more likely to require welfare benefits, have a history of depression, be less educated and report sexual abuse.

Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology at the university who led the research, told ABC: 'I'm not claiming that gay and lesbian adults are bad parents. This is not a parenting study. What this shows is that there's lots of diversity.'

But Dr Jenna Saul, a Wisconsin-based child and adolescent psychiatrist, said: 'This study doesn't really have anything to do with same-sex families of today.'

As the study looked at people who were raised during a time when same-sex unions were not as widely accepted as they are today, the study could be labeled a snapshot of a time that has passed.

Dr Saul added: 'I'd be interested in seeing this study redone in 20 years with the more intact same-sex families we see now.'

'I'd be interested in seeing this study redone in 20 years with the more intact same-sex families we see now'

Gary Gates, who studies the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) population at the University of California's Williams Institute in Los Angeles, also debated the findings.

He suggested it spoke more to childhood instability rather than the affects of same-sex unions on childhood.

'To determine whether a parental same-sex relationship effects a child's outcome, it is critical to know the length of these relationships, and whether the same-sex partners were actually living with and parenting the child for any length of time,' he said.

'The study does not assess this.'

Dr Regnerus argued that the study is the largest random sample of young adults with at least one same-sex parent, to date.

It included 919 adults raised by their biological, still-married parents and more than 800 adults who came from single-parent families plus children from divorced parents, stepparents and adopted families.