Are Pediatricians really saying that children raised by heterosexual couples are healthier than from same-sex parents?
This is a lengthier piece than normal but the message at the end is critical to disseminate so I would encourage you to share this if you wish with others to prevent misinformation from being propagated in the media by the sensationalism of a claim by a group of Pediatricians.
My Facebook page became awash in rainbow overlaid posts on Friday. Very quickly I realized as did most of the developed world, that the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of same-sex marriage and just so no one thinks that this will turn into a homophobic piece, I celebrated the change along with many friends and fellow Social Media colleagues.
After the initial excitement began to wane I came across a press release that I found a little shocking given that I belong to the group of people (as a Pediatrician not a member of the organization) that released the statement shown below. The statement is from the American College of Pediatricians
As I went to their website and read about this organization it became clear that this group is mixing Church and State so to speak. Their mission statement states:
Mission of the College
The Mission of the American College of Pediatricians is to enable all children to reach their optimal physical and emotional health and well-being. To this end, we recognize the basic father-mother family unit, within the context of marriage, to be the optimal setting for childhood development, but pledge our support to all children, regardless of their circumstances.
Who are these people and why are they speaking out in such contrast to the American Academy of Pediatrics who in 2013 published their technical report in support of same-sex couple raising children. The AAP which has about 64000 members dwarfs the membership of possibly 200 Pediatricians that comprise the American College of Pediatricians. The smaller group was formed when a group of Pediatricians became upset in 2002 of the AAPs position that endorsed same-sex couples adopting children. The trouble of course with an organization such as this is that their name implies some degree of credibility but in looking at their track record on this issue they have little to none. They are a group that seems to ignore the literature discussed below in favour of quasi-scientific religious literature suggesting harm from such family units. The support of the AAP, the dominant organization in the field was made clear June 26th with this statement. I particularly like the quote from the president of the AAP.
“Every child needs stable, nurturing relationships to thrive, and marriage is one way to support and recognize those relationships,” said Sandra G. Hassink, MD, FAAP, AAP president. “Today’s historic decision by the U.S. Supreme Court supports children in families with same-gender parents. If a child has two loving and capable parents who choose to create a permanent bond, it’s in the best interest of their children that legal institutions allow them to do so.”
Putting aside my natural suspicion of the American College of Pediatricians, it did lead me to ask an important question. Are kids truly better off being raised in a heterosexual marriage? Perhaps there is evidence to show that indeed this is something that we as Pediatricians should be promoting. Looking at the evidence though would suggest otherwise or at least that there is no difference. In 2014 the largest study to date was published by Australian researcher Crouch et al involving 315 parents representing 500 children from same-sex marriages (complete study here). The study involved a questionnaire that would then be compared against population data to see if differences exist between parental units. A little over two-thirds of the parental units were Lesbian. The results demonstrated that in virtually all measures of child health the parental units were equivalent. Curiously, sense of stronger family cohesion was present with the same-sex groups. Possible reasons for this may be related to the way in which children are brought into this world in the two parental unit types. Given that people of the same-sex must plan (there are exceptions no doubt) to procreate there is little chance of the unexpected pregnancy occurring. These are almost all “wanted or chosen” children as opposed to the situation encountered in many pregnancies that are not planned. That is not to say that these children can’t or won’t be loved but the likelihood seems much lower in a LGBT parenting situation due to the planning that is generally required. While the research did not go on to elaborate on why the cohesion might be enhanced this is just my speculation.
Adding to this piece of evidence that these children are likely to have equivalent health to the traditional family rearing model is a well-timed report that surfaced the same week as the Supreme Court Ruling. The report from the Huffington Post challenges that after reviewing 19000 studies on same-sex parenting there can be no conclusion that the children of such families are worse off in any measure of health. Where the above group derives their mission statement from then is certainly not based on science but rather perception.
Back to the American College of Pediatricians (ACOP). I mentioned earlier that I was suspicious of the ACOP and what they portray as advocating for a child’s best health. As a writer of a blog I firmly believe that the buck stops at me with respect to content. If I have a guest writer I am responsible for their content as well as my own. I took the liberty of reviewing a recent piece from their blog and what I saw both shocked me and left me with the certainty that this group is not so much advocating for the health of children as condemning those lifestyles that they do not believe fit the mother-father mold. On June 5th the group released the following piece entitled “P” is for Pedophile. Please click on the link if you have the stomach for it but to give you a taste of what they are talking about here is the quote from the first line of the entry.
“Driving in this morning I began to wonder. Why isn’t the movement of LGBT not the PGBT movement: “P” for pedophile?”
If this group had any credibility by having a professional sounding name, my hope is that this post will spread wide and far to help discredit this organization. The evidence suggests that members of the LGBT community raise just as healthy kids as any of us and any attempts to smear people simply for who they happen to bond with for life amounts to hate and there should be no room in Pediatrics or any other field of medicine for that.