Psychologists sympathetic to gay rights have long asserted that children raised by same-sex parents are no different from other children. But two professors are now challenging that premise in a study that both pleases and worries gay activists.
The new study by two University of Southern California sociologists says children with lesbian or gay parents show more empathy for social diversity, are less confined by gender stereotypes and are probably more likely to explore homosexual activity themselves.
``We say there are some differences, and that people have shied away from acknowledging them for fear that this would inflame homophobia,'' said Judith Stacey, who co-authored the report with Timothy Biblarz.
Some gays worry that the report, in the latest issue of the American Sociological Review, will provide ammunition for opponents of adoption and foster-parenting by homosexuals.
However, leaders of national groups supporting gay families welcomed the article.
``I'm thrilled that they're tackling these issues,'' said Aimee Gelnaw, executive director of the Family Pride Coalition, who is raising a 16-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter with her lesbian partner in Oak Park, Ill.
``Of course our kids are going to be different,'' Gelnaw said. ``They're growing up in a different social context.''
Kate Kendall, head of the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights, also is raising two children with her partner.
``There's only one response to a study that children raised by lesbian and gay parents may be somewhat more likely to reject notions of rigid sexual orientation - that response has to be elation,'' Kendall said.
She urged lesbians and gays to overcome any uneasiness they might have about the report.
``If in fact our kids are somewhat more likely to identify as lesbian and gay - if we're ashamed of that outcome, it means we're ashamed of ourselves,'' Kendall said.
What's your view here on tis? Is this study good news or bad news for gay parenting? Could it spark homophobia?