A new large study of same-sex parents found that their children actually do better at school than opposite-sex couples’ children.
The study from researchers at the University of Oxford in the U.K. and Maastricht University in the Netherlands looked at 3000 children being raised by same-sex couples and over a million being raised by opposite-sex couples.
“The results indicate that children raised by same-sex parents from birth perform better than children raised by different-sex parents in both primary and secondary education,” the study, which was published in the American Sociological Review, reads. “Our results suggest that children raised by same-sex parents from birth are 4.8 percentage points more likely to graduate than children with different-sex parents.”
University of Oxford researcher Deni Mazrekaj said that the results were partly because of income – same-sex parents in the Netherlands tend to be wealthier since many have to undergo fertility treatments, find a surrogate mother, or go through a lengthy adoption process to become parents.
But even when researchers controlled for socioeconomic status, “the positive associations reduced but remained positive,” Mazrekaj told the U.K. organization UNILAD.
“Thus it is likely that other factors also play a role, for instance, these are wanted pregnancies and same-sex parents are also very likely to be highly motivated to become parents given the procedures they have to undergo to have children.”
“Nonetheless, we only had data on the socioeconomic status, the rest is just a hypothesis, and future studies should address this,” he said.
Previous studies haven’t been big enough to separate children being raised by single parents from children being raised by same-sex couples or, if they did, they had small samples.
Mazrekaj stressed that the results are specific to the Netherlands and might not hold for other countries.
“Studies from the United States throughout the last two decades highly support the no-difference hypothesis, meaning that children raised by same-sex parents fare just as well as children raised by different-sex parents,” he said.
The study did not directly look at the sexual orientation of the parents but instead sorted children according to their parents’ genders. Same-sex and opposite-sex couples could be made up of people of any sexual orientation in the study.
Of the 2971 children being raised by same-sex parents in the study, only 185 were being raised by two men and the rest were being raised by two women. The researchers said that that’s because it’s more difficult to terminate a relationship with a biological mother than a biological father in the Netherlands, only two clinics help with surrogacy in the country and they started last year, and children are more likely to live with their mothers after their parents separate, no matter the gender of the mother’s new partner.