Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Thomas Nicholson, Jimmie Price, Richard Wilson

Degree Program

Department of Public Health

Degree Type

Master of Science


Sex and morals have often been factors in custody disputes. Courts have felt that giving custody of children to homosexual parents would create an environment not in the best interest of the child. Many mental health professionals argue that these decisions have been based on prejudice and homophobia. The purpose of this study was to evaluate research on the sexual orientation of children raised by homosexual parents and review data on the mental/psychosexual health of these children. These studies revealed no difference between children raised by gay/lesbian parents versus those raised by heterosexual parents on IQ scores, gender identity, or peer group relations. Daughters raised by lesbian mothers tended to choose more masculine toys and engage in more masculine activities than daughters raised by single heterosexual mothers. Nearly all of the adolescent children of homosexual parents experienced periods of questioning their sexual orientation. They also expressed the possibility of changing their sexual orientation later in life. Problems in research methodology (i.e., pre-experimental designs and lack of external validity) however, severely limit the validity and generalizability of these conclusions. Given the absence of externally valid, rigorous research on the relationship between homosexual parents and the sexual orientation of their children, these authors conclude that this question remains unanswered. These authors argue that custodial decisions regarding children of homosexual parents be based on sound information in the best interest of both children and parents and not rooted in homophobia.


Arts and Humanities | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Medicine and Health Sciences | Public Health | Public Health Education and Promotion | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology