Norma Steadman has two dads. And she couldn’t be happier about it.
“I love my dads and I love having them in my life,” Steadman said. “I wouldn’t trade them for the world.”
Steadman was raised for most of her life in a home with a mother and a father, but after her father came out and found a male partner, she now lives with them in Sandy, Utah.
“There is almost no difference in the way they interact and the way their relationship works than there was with my mom and dad,” Steadman said. “We’re all just family trying to get along, and love is love.”
Steadman’s assertions are exactly what a study released in the journal Pediatrics; children raised by lesbian and gay parents are no more likely to have self-esteem, gender-identity or emotional problems than their counterparts raised by straight parents. In fact, the study indicates that children raised by lesbian parents are more likely to be well adjusted, and scored higher on psychological and self-esteem evaluations. It also indicates they did better academically and were less likely to exhibit behavioral problems. The study was one of the first published that followed children raised by gay parents from birth through to adulthood.
Not surprisingly, 41 percent of teens and children growing up with gay parents reported experiencing teasing and bullying because of their parents’ sexual orientation. However, there was no evidence of any lasting psychological damage to the children due to the bullying.
It’s still unclear exactly why the lesbian mothers seemed to do better at raising their children than their straight counterparts. But Steadman has an idea.
“My dad was always very careful to raise us to be open-minded and mindful of other people’s feelings,” Steadman said. “I always had such a close relationship and I wonder if his sexuality helped him be more emotionally open and available to me.”
There’s no true statistical data as to how many children are being raised by gay parents, but a study released by the Tufts University Medical School of Boston indicated that there could be as many as six million children being raised in the country by gay parents. The number can be hidden because people do not report their sexuality out of fear of retaliation in different ways, said Ellen Perrin, a professor at Tufts University.
“The vast consensus of all the studies shows that children of same-sex parents do as well as children whose parents are heterosexual in every way,” Perrin told CBS News. “In some ways children of same-sex parents actually may have advantages over other family structures.”
Whatever the case, Steadman is sure that her gay dads and her younger sister, who is a lesbian, are just as fit to be parents as anyone else.
“If anyone has doubts about their ability to parent or just be good people, they just need to meet my family,” Steadman said. “That’ll change their mind before they know it.”