In light of the current debate about gay marriage and the surrounding controversy I found the recent study regarding gay parenting to be particularly interesting. Gay couples, and by extension, gay parents face greater judgment in just about all areas than their straight counterparts.
A study out of the University of Binghamton highlights just how much scrutiny gay parents are under when compared to heterosexuals. Researcher Sean Massesy Ph.D. noted that positive parenting techniques, like comforting an upset child, were viewed similarly by others whether or not the parents were straight or gay. It was when parents became irritable or frustrated and disciplined their child that gay parents were judged more harshly. There are no perfect parents but the expectations placed on gay parents were significantly higher. The injustice of this fact is apparent and this study revealed its unfortunate prevalence.
Same sex unions have come a long way but the fight for equality in parenting rights may be the next frontier. The more overt judgments of the past have diminished in many places but the underlying prejudices can have profound effects on these families. A major concern is how these prejudices affect same sex couple’s ability to foster and adopt children. Social workers and adoption counselors are susceptible to the beliefs that lead to this double standard as well and need to be aware of how this may be preventing many children from being placed in loving homes.
The researchers from this study wanted to bring to light the inequities that exist when it comes to same sex parents with the hope that by continuing to explore and expose these biases we can begin to eliminate them. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a statement in full support of same-sex marriage and the adoption of children by gay families. These are positives steps towards equality but much more needs to be done to recognize and honor the changing face of families today.
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