Sorry, Kids, But 'I Have Two Daddies' Is No Excuse for Bad Grades

Filed under: Gay Parenting, Research Reveals: Big Kids, Research Reveals: Tweens, Research Reveals: Teens

In a "Modern Family," a parent's sexual orientation shouldn't affect their child's study habits. Credit: Mitch Haddad, ABC/AP

You would think the children of same-sex couples would be complete and utter idiots -- unable to study or even think straight because what their parents are doing in the bedroom is so ... so ... ooky.

Actually, you probably wouldn't think that at all.

There's no obvious connection between a child's academic performance and his or her parents' sexual orientation. Homework-eating dogs are probably responsible for more bad report cards than same-sex parents.

Nonetheless, researchers will be researchers, and they wanted to check it out.

So, this just in: Children of same-sex parents do as well or as poorly in school as their counterparts with heterosexual or single parents.

"The difference in outcomes varies only a little bit by family structure," Michael Rosenfeld, an associate professor of sociology at Stanford University, tells Canada's Vancouver Sun. "The really important things are parental income and education. The parents' social class is the big determining factor."

Rosenfeld pored over U.S. census numbers from 2000 (the most recent year parents reported their assorted lifestyles) to see how kids fared academically in different family situations. He took into account children's ages and grade levels to figure out how many of them had flunked a grade.

He looked at nearly 613,000 children in first through eighth grades living with two married heterosexual parents and 3,500 living with same-sex parents.

According to the Sun, he found that 6.8 percent of children with straight married parents had been held back. The percentage rose to 9.5 percent among children of lesbians and 9.7 percent of among those raised by gay men.

However, the numbers shot up to 11 percent among children raised by parents who are single, remarried or not legally married to their partners.

So don't be divorced or gay? That's not quite the message here.

Kids with married heterosexual parents seemed to fare better, Rosenfeld tells the newspaper, but only when you don't also take into account wealth, class and other socioeconomic factors.

Controlling for those factors, he says, the differences all but disappear.

"The biggest determinants of children's educational progress are not parental gender but the things we always know have mattered, which is parental education and parental income," the tells the Sun.

Cherie MacLeod, the executive director of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) Canada, tells the Sun the study is "absolutely in no way surprising."

In fact, she tells the newspaper, same-sex parents tend to be intensely involved in their children's education because they worry the kids will be bullied or teased.

A 2008 study from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network finds same-sex parents are more likely to attend parent-teacher conferences and volunteer at schools than their straight counterparts.

"I look forward to the day when we're not constantly turning to researchers to justify the value and the validity of same-sex couples and families that are headed by same-sex couples in society," MacLeod tells the Sun.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.