Members of Binghamton University’s Interdisciplinary Research Group for the Study of Sexuality and Gender conducted a study of people’s reactions to the parenting behaviors of gay and straight parents.
Their results showed a clear pattern of negative reactions from study participants towards a gay couple engaging in exactly the same negative parenting behaviors as a straight couple.
Research Associate Professor Sean Massey and Instructor Ann Merriwether of Binghamton, and Justin Garcia from The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University,
“We noted that when parents displayed favorable parenting behaviors like comforting an upset child, gay and straight parents were judged in a similar, positive manner,” Research Associate Professor Sean Massey said.
“However, if parents got frustrated - raised their voice or slapped their child on the hand, the gay parents were judged more negatively than the straight parents,” he said.
Massey said that this marked difference in the study groups’ reactions is significant.
While no parent is perfect, the researchers believe that holding gay parents to a different standard adds additional stress to the already stressful job of parenthood. It can also negatively affect their chances of adopting or becoming foster parents.
“We feel that it is very important for social workers and adoption counselors to be made aware of the effects of modern anti-gay prejudices and they need to educate themselves and develop policies that help protect against these potential biases,” Massey said.
There is a serious shortage of people stepping up to foster or adopt the hundreds of thousands of children who are in the system waiting to find a new foster family or adopted family.
The gay community is a resource for many of these children but this study indicates that if judged more harshly than their straight counterparts, gay parents are at a disadvantage.
The findings are published in the Journal of GLBT Family Studies.