Study: Teens Do Even Better With Lesbian Parents Than Straight Ones

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com February 26 2014 9:18 PM ET

Teenagers in families with continuously coupled lesbian parents have higher self-esteem and fewer behavior problems than those in families with similarly stable heterosexual parents, a new study indicates.

Researchers compared 51 adolescents who have been participating in the Dutch Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study with a matched group of teens in heterosexual-parent families who were drawn from a large school-based survey in the Netherlands, reports the Williams Institute. The institute, a think tank at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law, focuses on legal issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity, and was sponsor of the study, recently published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies.

The study is the first comparing adolescent well-being in families headed by stable lesbian couples and those headed by a continuously coupled man and woman, according to the Williams Institute. Overall, the teens in both groups were similar, “but the few differences found on psychological well-being favored the adolescents in lesbian two-mother families,” the study’s authors wrote.

“Child and adolescent outcomes have more to do with the quality of parenting than the sexual orientation of the parents,” coauthor Nanette Gartrell, a Williams Institute visiting distinguished scholar, told The Huffington Post. Others involved in the study were principal investigator Henny Bos, Ph.D., who is a professor at the University of Amsterdam and a former visiting international scholar at the Williams Institute, and Loes van Gelderen, Ph.D.

The researchers acknowledged that the study had some limitations, one being that it relied on self-reporting by participants. Future studies might seek input from other people who know the teenage subjects, such as their teachers.