The study will investigate the physical, mental and social wellbeing, including bullying and social stigma, of 750 children belonging to 500 parents, according to an article in Sydney Morning Herald, and explore any stigma that exists in the community in an effort to help children and their parents deal with discrimination.
Lead researcher Dr Simon Crouch of the Melbourne School of Population Health said a study of this size had never been done before and that studies in Europe and the US tended to focus on the children of lesbian mothers rather than gay men, bisexuals and transgender people.
‘We know that same-sex families encounter stigma and discrimination on a regular basis,’ said Dr Crouch. ‘We will be exploring experiences of discrimination and how families build their children’s resilience and coping in this context.
‘We want our study to inform not only the parents to better understand the health needs of their children but also to inform policy to affect all those who come in contact with them such as teachers and GPs.’
Many arguments against same-sex marriage from Christian groups in Australia have centred around the wellbeing of children. While being questioned last week at the senate inquiry into legalising same-sex marriage, Dr David van Gend of Australian Marriage Forum said that it damages children. ‘It means that a homosexual couple’s child will miss out on either a mother or a father,’ he said.
‘These are all pertinent areas of research to explore in Australia, particularly now given the current political climate in relation to Australian same-sex families,’ said Dr Crouch.
Convenor of Gay Dads Australia, Rodney Chiang-Cruise, welcomed the study. He said: ‘The number of children with same-sex attracted parents in Australia is rapidly growing. All parents worry about how their children are developing and this study will for the first time give same-sex parents the information they need to ensure the health and wellbeing of their children.’