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Same-gender couples live in almost every county in the United States, and nearly 25% are raising children.1 Recent estimates are that there are between 1 million and 9 million gay and lesbian parents in the United States, and between 2 million and 14 million children in the United States have at least one gay or lesbian parent.2,3 More specific estimates have been limited because many gays and lesbians have historically not reported their sexual orientation, in part because of concern regarding potential discrimination against themselves and their children.4

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Since same-sex partners cannot conceive together, gay and lesbian families comprised a variety of family structures. Until relatively recently, most gay- and lesbian-parented families started with a gay man or lesbian woman becoming a parent in the context of a heterosexual relationship before recognizing or acknowledging their own homosexuality. However, growing numbers of individuals are expanding their families to include children in the context of their lives as gay men or lesbian women, whether single or as part of a same-gender couple.

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Research on gay and lesbian parenting has focused on assessing the development and well-being of children raised by gay or lesbian parents. Concerns include the psychological development and well-being of children, including whether the children of gay and lesbian parents are ostracized by their peers and whether children raised in single-gender parent households demonstrate nonnormative gender and sexual development, specifically including whether these children have a higher incidence of gay or lesbian sexual orientation when they reach adolescence or young adulthood.

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Despite methodologic limitations, there is adequate data demonstrating no significant differences in children’s development based on the sexual orientation of their parents. This has led several major organizations to officially support gay and lesbian parenting. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, issued a technical report in 2002 that supports coparent or second-parent adoption by same-gender parents based upon “a growing body of scientific literature demonstrating that children who grow up with one or two gay and/or lesbian parents fare as well in emotional, cognitive, social, and sexual functioning as do children whose parents are heterosexual” and that “children’s optimal developments seems to be influenced more by the nature of the relationships and interactions within the family unit than by the particular structural form it takes.”8 In its July 2004 “Resolution on Sexual Orientation, Parents, and Children,” the American Psychological Association reported that “there is no scientific basis for concluding that lesbian mothers or gay fathers are unfit parents on the basis of their sexual orientation. . Overall, results of research suggest that the development, adjustment, and well-being of children with gay and lesbian parents do not differ markedly from that of children with heterosexual parents.”9

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Parenting Skills and Family Function

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Surveys of lesbian and gay communities in the United States indicate that approximately 1 out ...

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