Though it is likely to get lost in the attention paid to the more ambitious studies that have generated so much discussion this week, a recent study in the Journal of Marriage and Family also reports on child outcomes for children raised by same-sex couples. The study looked at data on math scores from kindergarten to 8th grade in a large (19,107 person) national sample. Of this sample, 72 children were living in same-sex parent families (meaning the child was being raised by a parent and same-sex guardian) during at least one of the times data was gathered. The study found “children in same-sex parent families appeared to have lower baseline math scores, on average, than their peers in married, two-biological parent families” and that scores for children in same-sex parent households resemble “children in opposite-sex parent nontraditional families.” The author concluded this outcome “was indicative of disruptions, instability, and changes associated with the transitions accompanying the formation of these nontraditional family types.”
It seems that there has been some effort to change the conversation from the impact of family structure on children to an entirely futile and irrelevant parenting contest: Who is better, gay or straight parents? This study, and presumably more to follow, will help us to flesh out our understanding of how family structure matters to children. I am guessing that well-designed and executed studies like this one will confirm our appreciation of how married mothers and fathers contribute to child well-being in unique ways.