How Do the Kids of Homosexual Parents Turn Out? The Best Evidence

The homosexual movement, many professional associations, and the media assert that whether or not a parent engages in homosexuality is irrelevant: as long as the child is loved, he will turn out OK. Traditional thought stresses the character of the parents, which they exhibit by raising a child within marriage instead of alone or in an informal union. Tradition also holds that the aberrant attitudes, behaviors, and associates of those who engage in homosexuality, illegal drug use, or criminality often have more influence on how a child turns out than their parents’ expressions of love or affirmation.

Supporters of homosexual parenting cite a number of academic studies to bolster their position. But these studies are almost exclusively based on small, volunteer samples. And their chief claim is that since ‘no statistically significant differences were found between the children of homosexual and heterosexual parents’ for this or that variable, the parenting situations must have ‘the same’ influence on the child.

The problem is that small samples generally yield ‘no statistical differences’ due to a lack of statistical power, so such findings do almost nothing to prove that the two parenting types produce ‘the same’ result. Furthermore, statistical claims of ‘sameness’ or ‘differences’ between two populations — and not just between the particular subjects in the study — rely on those subjects being approximately representative of ‘all heterosexual parents’ or ‘all homosexual parents,’ something that is rarely true of volunteers or individuals recruited by the investigators.

In addition, almost without exception, supporters of homosexual parenting refuse to acknowledge studies that support the traditional view — whether in their professional papers, in their court briefs, or on their websites. Ignoring counter-evidence is unusual in the hard sciences, but social science is heavily politicized, and the practice — especially in studies about homosexuality — is unfortunately common. While traditional beliefs are generally reinforced by careful examination of even the pro-gay literature,1 below we compare the findings from the 2012 Regnerus study2 against findings from studies that have been ‘generally ignored.’

Of all the studies of homosexual parents to date, Regnerus addressed the broadest array of variables and represents the largest random sample study of how adults turn out when they have (or had) a homosexual parent. 2,988 individuals aged 18-39 were culled from a probability-based pool of approximately 15,000 potential subjects in order to find an adequate number of adult children of homosexuals and a comparable number of adults with a similar demographic profile who were raised in other circumstances.

Regnerus’ findings support traditional beliefs that children do best in a married household, and that even sub-optimal heterosexual rearing — such as single parenthood or being raised with stepparents — is better than being raised by a homosexual.

Weighted to match population parameters, Regnerus estimated that 1.7% of the nation’s children have one or more homosexual parents. By comparison, Cameron and Cameron’s random survey3 of 5,182 adults in 1983-84 yielded unweighted estimates of 1.6% and 1.7%. Such close agreement between two nationwide studies based on random samples reinforces the credibility of both investigations. In Table 1, each of the 40 outcome measures that Regnerus studied and reported is ranked by kind of family unit. The family type that scored best on each variable is ranked #1, second-best #2 and so on, with the worst ranked #8. Family types that were tied on any outcome were assigned a common ‘midrank,’ a standard statistical rank average.

Most of Table 1 fits right in line with traditional beliefs. For instance, those with gay or lesbian parent(s) were the:

  • most apt to say they were not exclusively heterosexual,
  • most apt to be on welfare,
  • least apt to be employed,
  • most apt to have gotten a sexually transmitted infection,
  • most apt to have recently thought of suicide,
  • most apt to report rape,
  • most apt to test impulsive,
  • most apt to smoke,
  • most apt to report heavy TV viewing,
  • most apt to have been arrested,
  • most apt to have pled guilty to a crime,
  • most apt to score high on depression,
  • least apt to report being able to depend on others,
  • least apt to report having felt secure and safe in their family, and
  • most promiscuous

Participants who have/had homosexual parents generally rank more poorly on the other variables of concern in Table 1, even if they are not always ‘the worst.’ Any random sample will exhibit fluctuations — no matter what the setting or experiences, some children do well on something when most do poorly. But since gays and lesbians report more frequent smoking, drug use, arrest, rape, and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as testing more mentally disturbed,4 just about all the findings in Table 1 make sense if the children of homosexuals tend to mimic them (e.g., ‘like produces like’). Heavier TV viewing, being on welfare, and testing impulsive by the children of homosexuals’ are ‘new’ findings, since previous direct data on homosexuals are mixed or absent for these variables.

Table 1. After Regnerus, Ranked Outcome Measures

Measure/Family Type Intact Biological
Married Family
Lesbian Mother Gay Father Adopted by Strangers
N (919) (163) (73) (101)
Currently married 1 6.5 8 2.5
Currently cohabiting 2 7 6 1
Family got welfare 2 8 7 1
Current public assistance 1 8 2.5 4
Currently employed 1 8 7 5
Currently unemployed 1 8 6 7
Voted last election 4.5 8 1 3
Recent suicide thought 1.5 7 8 3
Recent/current therapy 1 6.5 6.5 8
Identifies as heterosexual 1 8 7 5
In same-sex relationship 3 5 6 8
Had affair 2 8 6 5
Ever STI 1.5 7 8 5.5
Ever sex touch by parent 1 8 3 2
Ever forced sex 1 8 7 5
Educational attainment 2 8 5.5 1
Family safety/security 1 8 7 2.5
Family negative impact 1 8 6 5
Closeness to mother 1 2 7 8
Closeness to father 1 7 4 8
Physical health 1 8 2 3
Overall happiness 1 5 8 4
CES-D depression index 1 8 7 5
Attachment scale (depend) 1 8 7 6
Attachment scale (anxiety) 1 7 5.5 5.5
Impulsivity scale 5 8 7 2
Household income 1 8 4 2
Current relationship index 1 5 8 7
Trouble current relationship 1 5 8 5
Frequency marijuana use 1 7 5 2
Frequency alcohol use 6.5 1 6.5 8
Frequency of drunkenness 2.5 6 8 4
Frequency smoking 1 8 7 5
Frequency watch TV 2 8 7 4
Frequency been arrested 1 7 8 2
Frequency pled guilty 1 7 8 4
N female sex ptnrs (women) 1 7 8 3.5
N female sex ptnrs (men) 1 5 8 3
N male sex ptnrs (women) 1 5 8 3
N male sex ptnrs (men) 1 8 7 2
Rank average 1.56 6.88 6.39 4.24
Rank std deviation 1.20 1.63 1.78 2.08
Rank std error 0.19 0.26 0.28 0.33

Table 1. After Regnerus, Ranked Outcome Measures (cont.)

Measure/Family Type Divorced Since Age 18 Step Family Single Parent Other
N (116) (394) (816) (416)
Currently married 6.5 2.5 5 4
Currently cohabiting 8 4.5 4.5 3
Family got welfare 4 6 5 3
Current public assistance 7 5.5 5.5 2.5
Currently employed 4 2 3 6
Currently unemployed 4.5 3 2 4.5
Voted last election 2 4.5 6 7
Recent suicide thought 4 6 1.5 5
Recent/current therapy 3 5 4 2
Identifies as heterosexual 3 6 3 3
In same-sex relationship 4 7 2 1
Had affair 1 7 4 3
Ever STI 3 5.5 4 1.5
Ever sex touch by parent 5.5 7 5.5 4
Ever forced sex 6 3.5 3.5 2
Educational attainment 3 5.5 4 7
Family safety/security 5.5 5.5 4 2.5
Family negative impact 7 3 4 2
Closeness to mother 5 3 6 4
Closeness to father 5 2 6 3
Physical health 5 4 6 7
Overall happiness 2 6 3 7
CES-D depression index 6 3 2 4
Attachment scale (depend) 4 5 3 2
Attachment scale (anxiety) 8 3 2 4
Impulsivity scale 6 3 1 4
Household income 3 5 6 7
Current relationship index 2.5 6 2.5 4
Trouble current relationship 7 5 3 2
Frequency marijuana use 8 3 6 4
Frequency alcohol use 4 3 5 2
Frequency of drunkenness 7 2.5 5 1
Frequency smoking 6 4 3 2
Frequency watch TV 5 6 3 1
Frequency been arrested 5.5 5.5 4 3
Frequency pled guilty 6 5 2.5 2.5
N female sex ptnrs (women) 6 3.5 2 2
N female sex ptnrs (men) 6 7 2 4
N male sex ptnrs (women) 4 7 6 2
N male sex ptnrs (men) 6 5 3 4
Rank average 4.95 4.64 3.89 3.46
Rank std deviation 1.74 1.51 1.46 1.74
Rank std error 0.28 0.24 0.23 0.27

Comparison to Other Studies

Custody Appeals Study: Cameron and Cameron5 and Cameron and Harris6 did the most unique studies of homosexual parenting to date: an analysis of child custody appeals cases. These were based on intensive examination of the real life of the parents and their children — that is, not based on answers to questionnaires as with Regnerus, but subject to cross-examination in court. The latter study examined 78 custody appeals decisions involving 79 homosexual parents and 142 children. The 142 children were exposed to a thousand child-years of homosexual parenting and found:

  1. parents recorded as lying or engaging in criminality or homosexuality were more apt to be recorded as harming children;
  2. homosexual parents as compared to heterosexual parents were more frequently recorded as lying and/or engaging in criminality;
  3. in 54 (70%) cases the homosexual parent and/or his associates was recorded as having exposed the children to harm(s) (e.g., neglect, seduction, emotional distress, hypersexualization), as opposed to the heterosexual parent in 4 (5%) cases; and
  4. homosexuals were responsible for 111 (97%) of the 115 harms to children in the appeals court record. In 78 heterosexual vs. heterosexual comparison cases, the 141 children were exposed to 12 harms, harms that occurred in 11 (14%) cases.

The study also found that lesbian mothers as compared to gay fathers:

  1. were of lesser character as indexed by more frequent lying or criminality,
  2. were more apt to generate harms to their children, and
  3. had more contact with their children in that 84% of the lesbians vs. 15% of the gays became involved in disputing who would get primary custody.

In Table 1, there is a slight difference in outcomes favoring the gay fathers over lesbian mothers, which tends to support the notion that gays less frequently cause harms to their children. Regnerus noted that among “those who said their mother had a same-sex relationship, 91% reported living with their mother while she was in the romantic relationship, and 57% said they had lived with their mother and her partner for at least 4 months at some point prior to age 18.… Among those who said their father had a same-sex relationship, however, 42% reported living with him while he was in a same-sex romantic relationship, and 23% reported living with him and his partner for at least 4 months” (p. 757). Both Regnerus and the custody appeals study found greater contact by lesbians than by gays with their children.

‘Everybody’ would have picked the winners and losers in the Regnerus study prior to the 1980s. The courts almost always sided with the heterosexual in child custody disputes involving a divorcing parent who chose homosexuality — traditional beliefs permeated the whole culture. The analysis of the 78 custody appeals fits rather nicely into what people 50 years ago would have called ‘common sense.’ Likewise, it is likely that no one would have been surprised by the outcomes found in the study of appeals cases.

A systematic effort by Hollywood and academia — including the professional societies — to ‘clean up’ the image of homosexuality has been underway for some time. Hollywood, especially, seems to tout the importance of ‘love’ overcoming all (except, of course, when it comes to keeping actors and actresses married). Among other components of academia, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the National Association of Social Workers, and the American Academy of Pediatrics have ignored and/or suppressed not only the custody appeals study, but all the following studies in their public statements, court briefs and journals:

  • Javaid7 reported a study comparing 26 children of 11 lesbian vs. 28 children of 15 divorced mothers. The 4 children who reported asexuality (see line 10, Table 1 above) had lesbian mothers, and more lesbians’ daughters were apt to reject or be uncertain about getting married and having children (line 1, Table 1).
  • Cameron and Cameron (1996) reported on 17 adults with homosexual parents (out of a random sample of 5,182) and how frequently in 986 consecutive Washington, DC obituaries (1988-1993) from gay newspapers homosexuals had children (6% of the gays, 29% of the lesbians were so listed). The 17 were disproportionately apt to report (a) sexual relations with their parents (line 14, Table 1), (b) a less than exclusively heterosexual orientation (line 10, Table 1), (c) gender dissatisfaction, and (d) that their first sexual experience was homosexual.
  • Sarantakos8 closely matched (by age, sex, grade in school, and social class) 58 elementary school children being raised by coupled homosexual parents with 58 children of cohabiting heterosexual parents and 58 children being raised by married heterosexual parents. The children of married couples scored best at math and language skills, experienced the highest levels of parental involvement at school and at home, and had parents with the highest expectations for them. The homosexuals’ children scored somewhat higher in social studies, lowest in math and language, were least popular, experienced the lowest levels of parental involvement both at school and at home (lines 17-20, 24, 25, Table 1), were more distant from their parents, and had parents with the lowest expectations for their children and who least frequently expressed higher educational and career aspirations for them (line 16, Table 1).
  • Sirota9 paired 68 adult daughters of gay fathers with 68 daughters of heterosexual fathers. Daughters with gay fathers tested less comfortable with intimacy and more anxious (lines 25, 28, Table 1); were less religious and more frequently engaged in compulsive heterosexuality (line 38, Table 1); less frequently married (19% if father was gay vs. 32% if father was heterosexual; line 1, Table 1); more frequently reported a bi/homosexual preference (34% if father was gay vs. 3% if father was heterosexual; almost every study has reported similarly, including Regnerus); reported less closeness to parents (lines 19, 20, Table 1); and more frequently indicated abusing drugs or alcohol (44% if father was gay vs. 7% if father was heterosexual; lines 30-32, Table 1).
  • Among the families of subjects in Sirota’s study, one or more parents reportedly abused drugs and/or alcohol in 59% of gay-father families vs. 31% of heterosexual-father families. 72% of families with gay fathers dissolved, while 68% of families with heterosexual fathers stayed intact. More frequent divorce/partner changing within homosexual-headed families was reported by Cameron & Cameron (1996) and Regnerus.


The above studies generally jibe with traditional common sense. They also fit the findings from custody appeals cases in our court system, as well as the outcomes in the Regnerus study. At the bottom of Table 1, across all 40 outcome measures taken as a whole, intact biological, heterosexually-married families had far and away the best rank average, while lesbian- and gay-headed homes clearly ranked last.

If parental homosexuality is as irrelevant as homosexuals, our professional associations, and the media assert, why are the above studies — methodologically as sound or better than the ones cited by these entities — ignored or dismissed? Given that both Cameron and Cameron and Regnerus reported homosexual parents more frequently became sexually involved with their kids, why is the psychiatric elite so anxious to allow more children to be exposed to the risk of homosexual seduction? How did psychiatry become so wise that it knows ‘the way it ought to be’ without fulfilling the basic requirement of good scholarship — to address all the evidence, and not just selected bits that fit one’s own preconceived notions?

  1. Cameron P (1999) Homosexual parents: testing “common sense” — a literature review emphasizing the Golombok and Tasker longitudinal study of lesbians’ children. Psychological Reports, 85: 282-322.
  2. Regnerus M (2012) How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study, Social Science Research 41: 752-770.
  3. Cameron P & Cameron K (1996) Homosexual parents. Adolescence 31: 757-776.
  4. Cameron P, Landess T, & Cameron K (2005) Homosexual sex as harmful as drug abuse, prostitution, or smoking. Psychological Reports 96: 915-961.
  5. Cameron P & Cameron K (1998) Homosexual parents: a comparative forensic study of character and harms to children. Psychological Reports 82: 1155-1191. Cameron P & Cameron K (1999) Homosexual parents: why appeals cases approximate the “gold standard” for science — a reply to Duncan. Psychological Reports 84: 793-802.
  6. Cameron P & Harris DW (2003) Homosexual parents in custody disputes: a thousand child-years exposure Psychological Reports 93: 1173-1194.
  7. Javaid GA (1993) The children of homosexual and heterosexual single mothers. Child Psychiatry and Human Development 23: 235-248.
  8. Sarantakos S (1996) Children in three contexts: family, education and social development. Children Australia 21: 23-31.
  9. Sirota T (1997) A Comparison Of Adult Attachment Style Dimensions Between Women Who Have Gay Or Bisexual Fathers And Women Who Have Heterosexual Fathers. PhD Dissertation, School of Nursing, New York University.