Study Finds Gay Fathers Have Well-Adjusted Children

Two fathers playing with child in woodsGay fathers parent similarly to heterosexual fathers, and they report similar levels of well-being in their children, according to a study presented at the annual Pediatric Academic Societies meeting.

Last month, another study of female same-sex couples found no differences in well-being between their children and the children of heterosexual parents. Between 1 and 9 million children in the United States have at least one gay or lesbian parent, according to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

Gay Fathers: Similar Parenting Styles, Child Outcomes

The study relied on self-report surveys distributed through online gay parent support groups and social media. The questionnaire produced responses from 732 gay fathers living in 47 different states. Thirty-eight percent had adopted or fostered children; 36% had children from a previous heterosexual relationship, and 14% had children with the assistance of a surrogate.

The survey asked about parenting experiences and daily life. Researchers then compared responses to answers of heterosexual fathers in the 2006-2010 National Survey on Family Growth. Both gay and straight fathers reported similar levels of well-being for their children, including similar strengths and challenges. They also engaged in parenting activities such as reading and going on outings at a similar frequency. This suggests daily life for children of gay men is substantially similar to daily life for children of straight men.

Stigma and Discrimination Persist for Gay Fathers

Although the survey suggests positive outcomes for gay fathers, it also found stigma and discrimination continue to be problems. Thirty-three percent reported difficulties receiving shared custody of their children. Forty-one percent encountered barriers in the adoption process, and 18% reported difficulties with using a surrogate.

The study’s authors say these numbers point to ongoing difficulties among gay fathers. Many researchers have uncovered bias against gay parents. In some states, gay parents are not entitled to take time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) when they adopt a child or welcome one with the assistance of a surrogate.


  1. Cara, E. (2016, May 01). Children with gay dads are well-adjusted, but same-sex families still face stigma: Study. Retrieved from
  2. Clark-Flory, T. (2016, May 2). Study: Gay dad not that different from straight dads. Retrieved from
  3. Discrimination against gay and lesbian working families [PDF]. (n.d.). Boston: Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders.
  4. Same-sex parents and their children. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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  • Linda


    May 5th, 2016 at 1:34 PM

    My brother and his partner recently did an international adoption which was no problem and I just know that they are going to make magnificent parents, probably better than I ever was!

  • Daria


    May 7th, 2016 at 10:29 AM

    Why would we even think that the kids would be harmed, just because they are raised by gay parents?
    That thought I guess is so ridiculous to me that I have never even entertained it.
    Gay parents are just like me and you, it’s just they are gay. Doesn’t mean that they love their kids any less or any more or that they are doing things differently.
    Why should who they love have any sort of impact on how they are as a responsible care giver and provider?


    March 27th, 2017 at 9:40 AM

    Because we do not teach our children that gay people are perfectly normal. That’s the biggest mistake most parents make. Instead, you should talk with your kids about LGBTQ population.
    Most effective conversations about LGBT are those that resonate with people’s values. Let your kids understand that there are different kinds of love and sometimes people want to be together with someone like themselves rather than the opposite sex.

    It is also important to introduce your kids to people that are different from you. Simply put, use real life examples to help your kids digest the idea of LGBTQ.

  • Matty


    May 9th, 2016 at 4:26 PM

    Because, you know, we are sort of awesome like that

  • liam


    May 10th, 2016 at 2:01 PM

    My thoughts on the whole thing are that you are a good parent if you are a good parent and for the most part it really has very little to do with whether you are gay or straight.
    There are great gay parents and there are sucky ones too, just like straight parents. I really don’t think that my own sexual preferences play any kind of role in the kind of parent that I am for my children.

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