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Promoting the Well-Being of Children Whose Parents Are Gay or Lesbian

Promoting the Well-Being of Children Whose Parents Are Gay or Lesbian

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Promoting the Well-Being of Children Whose Parents Are Gay or Lesbian
Promoting the Well-Being of Children Whose Parents Are Gay or Lesbian

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Published by: jsnow489 on Mar 22, 2013
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DOI: 10.1542/peds.2013-0376; originally published online March 20, 2013;
Promoting the Well-Being of Children Whose Parents Are Gay or Lesbian
located on the World Wide Web at:The online version of this article, along with updated information and services, is
of Pediatrics. All rights reserved. Print ISSN: 0031-4005. Online ISSN: 1098-4275.Boulevard, Elk Grove Village, Illinois, 60007. Copyright © 2013 by the American Academypublished, and trademarked by the American Academy of Pediatrics, 141 Northwest Pointpublication, it has been published continuously since 1948. PEDIATRICS is owned,PEDIATRICS is the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. A monthly
 by guest on March 22, 2013pediatrics.aappublications.orgDownloaded from 
Promoting the Well-Being of Children Whose ParentsAre Gay or Lesbianabstract
To promote optimal health and well-being of all children, the AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports access for all children to (1) civilmarriage rights for their parents and (2) willing and capable fosterand adoptive parents, regardless of the parents
sexual orientation.The AAP has always been an advocate for, and has developed policies to support, the optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being of all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults. In sodoing, the AAP has supported families in all their diversity, because the family has always been the basic social unit in which childrendevelop the supporting and nurturing relationships with adults that they need to thrive. Children may be born to, adopted by, or cared for temporarily by married couples, nonmarried couples, single parents,grandparents, or legal guardians, and any of these may be hetero-sexual, gay or lesbian, or of another orientation. Children need secureand enduring relationships with committed and nurturing adults toenhance their life experiences for optimal social-emotional and cog-nitive development. Scienti
c evidence af 
rms that children havesimilar developmental and emotional needs and receive similar par-enting whether they are raised by parents of the same or differentgenders. If a child has 2 living and capable parents who choose tocreate a permanent bond by way of civil marriage, it is in the bestinterests of their child(ren) that legal and social institutions allowand support them to do so, irrespective of their sexual orientation. If 2 parents are not available to the child, adoption or foster parentingremain acceptable options to provide a loving home for a child andshould be available without regard to the sexual orientation of theparent(s).
All children need support and nurturing from stable, healthy, and well-functioning adults to become resilient and effective adults. On the basisof a review of extensive scienti
c literature, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) af 
rms that
s well-being is affected muchmore by their relationships with their parents, their parents
sense of competence and security, and the presence of social and economicsupport for the family than by the gender or the sexual orientation of  their parents.
civil marriage, adoption, foster care, nurturing children, childrenof gay and lesbian parents, marriage equalityThis document is copyrighted and is property of the AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics and its Board of Directors. All authorshave
led con
ict of interest statements with the AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics. Any con
icts have been resolved througha process approved by the Board of Directors. The AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics has neither solicited nor accepted anycommercial involvement in the development of the content of  this publication.The recommendations in this statement do not indicate anexclusive course of treatment or serve as a standard of medicalcare. Variations, taking into account individual circumstances,may be appropriate.All policy statements from the American Academy of Pediatricsautomatically expire 5 years after publication unless reaf 
rmed,revised, or retired at or before that time.www.pediatrics.org/cgi/doi/10.1542/peds.2013-0376doi:10.1542/peds.2013-0376PEDIATRICS (ISSN Numbers: Print, 0031-4005; Online, 1098-4275).Copyright © 2013 by the American Academy of PediatricsPEDIATRICS Volume 131, Number 4, April 2013
Organizational Principles to Guide and De
ne the Child Health Care System and/or Improve the Health of all Children
 by guest on March 22, 2013pediatrics.aappublications.orgDownloaded from 
structural forms are varied. In2010, married adults were raising 65.3%of all children in this country.
The other34.7% of children (25.9 million of 74.63million children) were living in a varietyof situations. Many were being raised byparents who were single or cohabiting,either by choice or by circumstance.Growing numbers of grandparents arestepping in as parents to 2.5 millionchildren when necessary.
When none of a child
s biological relatives is availableor able to provide necessary nurturingand support, other arrangements exist to nurture children. Foster parenting andadoption are substitute arrangements that can provide
nancial, emotional,social, and legal support for children. In2007,
400000 children were in fostercare, and 130 000 children were adoptedby unrelated adults.
Increasing numbers of same-gendercouples are raising children today,and the numbers are likely to increasein the future. The US 2010 Censusreported that 646464 households in-cluded 2 adults of the same gender.
These same-gender couples are rais-ing
115 000 children aged
18 yearsand are living in essentially all coun- ties of the United States.
When thesechildren are combined with single gayand lesbian parents who are raisingchildren, almost 2 million children arebeing raised by gay and lesbianparents in the United States.
Civil marriage is the legal and socialinstitution in modern society that servesas the basic building block for familystructure and child-rearing. Marriage isgenerally considered the optimal re-lationship between 2 adults who shareresponsibility for children. Marriagebrings 2 extended families together toprovide long-term security and socialand emotional support to all membersof the newly formed family. Marriageoffers many legal rights and responsi-bilities, including the joint responsi-bility to care for children and to makedecisions (including medical decisions)for them. A report from the AAP Task Force on the Family noted that marriedcouples have more
nancial and socialresources to nurture and raise children.
married men and womenare physically and emotionally healthierand are less likely to engage in healthrisk behaviors . . . than are unmarriedadults.
A number of studies havedocumented
a positive relationship be- tween the quality of marital life andfamily functioning.
The Task Force re-port emphasized:
As we move forward, the Academy and pediatricians standready to serve all children in all families,regardless of the family structure inwhich they live.
There are few social or legal restric- tions limiting the ability of 2 unrelatedadults to marry in the United States.These include (1) age: states have dif-ferent age limits before which parentalpermission is required for marriage;(2) numerosity: there is a long-standingprohibition on bigamy/polygamy; (3) the existence of blood relationships;and (4) cognitive capacity to consent.The only other exception applies toadults seeking same-gender relation-ships (in most states).There is extensive research documenting that there is no causal relationship be- tween parents
sexual orientation andchildren
s emotional, psychosocial, andbehavioral development.
Many stud-ies attest to the normal development of children of same-gender couples when the child is wanted, the parents havea commitment to shared parenting,and the parents have strong social andeconomic supports. Indeed, current re-search has concluded that
In all, it isnow well-established that the adjust-ment of children and adolescents isbest accounted for by variations in thequality of the relationships with theirparents, the quality of the relationshipbetween the parents or signi
cantadults in the children
s and adolescents
lives, and the availability of economicand socio-economic resources.
Therefore,theAAPhasendorsed,formore than a decade, a policy supporting thebene
 ts ofboth parentsin a same-gendercouple having legal rights and respon-sibilities for their child(ren), for example, through second-parent or coparent ad-option.
A special article in
in2006 reviewed the legal issues associatedwith civil marriage, civil union, and do-mestic partnership and noted a numberof disparities for children growing up invarious legal arrangements.
The Amer-ican Medical Association has recentlynoted the disparities that exist forparents of the same gender who lack marriage equality as well as for theirchildren.
Many other professionalorganizations have adopted policies urg-ing legislative changes and legal mecha-nisms, including adoption, fosterparenting, and civil marriage, for gay andlesbian adults who wish to be parents.*Civil unions and domestic partnershipsdo not confer the same legal rights,protections, and bene
 ts to children thatcivil marriage provides.
Public policy related to marriage andfamily is largely a state function. Con-sequently, the laws across the country that regulate marriage, adoption, andfoster parenting by gay men and les-bians are an inconsistent patchwork.Even civil marriage in a state that
*National organizations that support marriageequality: American Civil Liberties Union (June1998), National Association of Social Workers(June 2004), American Psychological Association(July 2004), American Psychiatric Association (May2005), American Psychoanalytic Association(January 2008), American Bar Association (August2010), American College of Nursing (July 2012),and American Academy of Family Physicians(October 2012). National organizations thatsupport gay and lesbian parenting and thenurturing of children: American Academy of Childand Adolescent Psychiatry, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, American MedicalAssociation, Child Welfare League of America,National Adoption Center, National EducationAssociation, North American Council on AdoptableChildren, and Voice for Adoption.
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