Australia’s top paediatricians say that children raised in same-sex parented families do just as well as those by heterosexual couples.
The 13 experts have published a review of the evidence in the Medical Journal of Australia to combat misinformation around the marriage equality debate.
One claim is that children and adolescents with same-sex parents are at risk of poorer health and well-being than other children.
But the doctors say those children are just fine and that it is discrimination, not same-sex parents, which harms children.
The consensus of three decades of peer-reviewed research is that children raised in same-sex parented families do as well emotionally, socially and educationally as children raised by heterosexuals.
“The negative and discriminatory rhetoric of the current same-sex marriage debate is damaging the most vulnerable members of our community — children and adolescents,” says senior author Frank Oberklaid of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.
“It’s essential that we recognise the potential for the debate about marriage equality to cause harm for our children and young people.”
Young people who express diversity in their sexual orientation or gender identity experience some of the highest rates of psychological distress in Australia.
“Young LGBTIQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer) people are much more likely to experience poor mental health, self-harm and suicide than other young people. Sadly, this is largely attributed to the harassment, stigma and discrimination they and other LGBTIQ+ individuals and communities face in our society,” says Professor Oberklaid.
He says there’s solid evidence in countries that have legalised same-sex marriage that it has had a positive impact on the mental health and wellbeing of same-sex parented families and LGBTIQ+ young people.
“As part of the medical community we feel a duty of care to all groups in our society, particularly to those who are vulnerable,” says Professor Oberklaid.
“Our duty extends to making sure that accurate, objective interpretations of the best available evidence are available and inaccuracies are corrected in an effort to reduce the destructiveness of public debate.”
The group Melbourne Children’s — made of The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, The Royal Children’s Hospital, the University of Melbourne, Department of Paediatrics and The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation — is standing up for our most vulnerable members of the community, children.
“The social stigma and discrimination faced by these families and young LGBTQI individuals must end and so we call for a halt to the distribution of the negative messages that have the potential to cause harm for children and young people during the marriage equality debate,” says Professor Oberklaid.
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