Gay parents 'no disadvantage'

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There is no scientific evidence to support the assertion of 150 doctors that children with heterosexual parents 'do better' than those in same-sex homes, psychologists say.

There is no scientific evidence to support the assertion of 150 doctors that children with heterosexual parents 'do better' than those with same-sex parents, psychologists say.

A group of 150 medical professionals called 'Doctors for the Family' recently signed a Senate submission claiming that children whose parents were in a heterosexual relationship 'did better' than those raised by same-sex couples.

"We submit that the evidence is clear that children who grow up in a family with a mother and father do better in all parameters than children without," the submission said.

However, experts said a vast body of research showed the opposite was true.

"The Australian Psychological Society conducted in 2007 a large review of literature on parenting by same sex couples, and found the evidence shows that children in these families do at least as well as those in heterosexual families," said APS spokesperson Dr Judith Heywood.

That literature was based on 30 years of research tracking children in same-sex homes, added Dr Damien Riggs, a Flinders University lecturer in social work and planning.

It suggested that on some measures, those raised by gay couples were better-adjusted than others, he said.

If there were any negative consequences of growing up with non-heterosexual parents, they would the consequences of discrimination, Dr Riggs said, and those were the same across all marginalised groups.

"For any marginal group, living in a society that discriminates against that marginal group, the effects are pretty uniform and that is being teased or bullied, experiencing stigma, experiencing a range of different forms of discriminations," he said.

Children could be teased or bullied based on their race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender or religion, according to Dr Riggs.

"If those of us who are working in the health professions want to support children and families then that's what we should be doing, rather than speaking against them," Dr Riggs said.

The submission to Senate was surprising because it cited mostly evidence from media reports rather than professional research.

"It was a bunch of very well-educated professionals citing media articles as the evidence," Dr Riggs said.

"If they had actually read the research evidence - which they're probably very skilled in doing - they would be able to see that the research evidence is supportive of children raised in same-sex families," he said.

The Australian Medical Association also distanced itself from the Doctors for the Family submission.

"There is a growing body of evidence that says there's no difference in their psychological development, their general health, their sexual orientation," AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton told the ABC.

The opinions expressed by Doctors for the Family did not reflect those of of the wider medical community, Dr Hambleton added.

Source SBS

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