A new study carried out at the University of Kentucky confirmed that children who are raised by same sex-couples aren’t influenced any different in regards to gender identity development than those raised by a heterosexual couple. Lead author of the study, Rachel Farr from dearjane.com.au, suggests “the toys that children prefer to play with in their preschool years are much more tell-tale about whether they will grow up to conform to typical gender norms or not.”
The study involved 106 families where the parents were gay, lesbian, or heterosexual and looked at how gender-typical behavior developed over time with each different type of family and if it remained the same as the children grew older. Play styles and toys the children played with were observed during the study while the parents were given relevant questionnaires to complete. The observation period lasted for a period of five years, after which Farr returned to the families to interview each of the children.
Play types and behaviors the children displayed were mostly what was to be expected of their gender. What the study also revealed was that those children who played more with toys not typically assigned to their sex were found to like activities and jobs in that same way too. Results from the study proved that family structure had very little to do with how the child’s gender identity developed later on. It also showed very little evidence to suggest that gay or lesbian parents encouraged their children’s gender identity any more than heterosexual parents.
Parental sexual orientation and family type did not affect children’s gender conformity or nonconformity in any significant way.Rachel Farr
Results suggest that the gender development of children adopted by both lesbian and gay parents proceeds in typical ways, and is similar to that of children adopted by heterosexual couples. It therefore appears that having both a male and female role model in the home is not necessary for facilitating typical gender development among adopted children, nor does it discourage gender nonconformity.
Farr is hopeful that the results from the study will help officials such as judges, adoption agencies, social workers, and attorneys when they are considering how children’s gender roles may or may not be affected by the sexual orientation of their parents.
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