found that children raised by lesbian mothers — whether the mother was partnered or single — scored very similarly to children raised by heterosexual parents on measures of development and social behavior. These findings were expected, the authors said; however, they were surprised to discover that children in lesbian homes scored higher than kids in straight families on some psychological measures of self-esteem and confidence, did better academically and were less likely to have behavioral problems, such as rule-breaking and aggression.
According to one of the lead researchers, Nanette Gartrelle, although 41% of children reported the teasing at school that is supposed to persuade gay and lesbian people not to parent (for the sake of the children), the home environments in lesbian households make up for it with higher levels of nurturing and by making their children "a priority." The outcomes do not change for children whose two mothers separate (lesbians split up at about the same rate as straight people, which is 43% within 15 years, although this is harder to track since in most states same-sex couples have no right to marry or divorce.)
Are the children of lesbians better adjusted because the parents are all women? Probably not, because all of our mothers were women at some point. Is it because there are no men in the children's lives? Also probably not: all the lesbian moms I know (particularly those with sons, which is about 90% of 'em) are super-fanatical about bringing daddy-types into the picture lest Junior spend his whole life without ever meeting another penis or learning to urinate mannishly. More likely lesbians treat their children better because if you are a lesbian, you really have to want children a lot, and you really plan, and you have to put up with a lot of crap from the law to actually get and keep them. You also need a lot of money, and although children raised with money are not automatically successful, it sure greases the wheels: money + making child rearing a priority is one sure-fire recipe for success. This means, of course, that gay men are probably raising children who are just fanatically successful, since they have to have even more money to get children in the first place by adoption or surrogacy, and have to be highly educated besides to navigate the homophobic legal hoops they must jump through.
It also means that the whole idea that we should have gay marriage because it's better for the children in lesbian relationships is a lot of hooey. The children in this study were raised by committed and unmarried lesbians, married as they surely might have been in their hearts.
In case you want a little fictionalized peek at lesbian life with children, the summer's hot movie for the gay and gay-friendly moving goer will be Lisa Cholodenko's The Kid's Are All Right: read the review by A.O. Scott here. Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as lesbians? I'm lovin' it, and it's rumored that all the babies in that relationship are named Oscar.