Study of Teens of Lesbian Parents shows Happy as Teens from Heterosexual Parents

The quality of life of 17-year-olds reared in lesbian-parent families did not differ from that of a matched group of adolescents who grew up in heterosexual-parent families, according to a new study published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

The study took 78 17-year-olds from the NLLFS—all of whom have lesbian mothers—and matched them based on gender, age, parental education, and ethnic background with 78 17-year-olds who have opposite-sex parents. All were scored based on their responses to statements like, “I feel I’m getting along with my parents/guardians,” “I look forward to the future,” and ”I feel good about myself.” The result? Both groups “responded generally in the same way.”

“Consistently, over the past three decades, researchers have found that the daughters and sons of same-sex parents are psychologically well-adjusted. And now our new data demonstrate that 17-year-olds raised from birth by lesbian mothers are as happy as their peers,” said lead author Loes van Gelderen, MSc, University of Amsterdam.

The study also found, among teens with lesbian mothers, no difference in quality of life based on donor status (whether they had been conceived by known or unknown donors), experienced stigmatization (whether or not they had experienced discrimination), or maternal relationship continuity (whether their mothers were still together or had separated).

“The favorable outcomes for these adolescents are a reflection of good parenting by mothers who prepared their daughters and sons for the prospect of adversity,” said Principal Investigator Nanette Gartrell, MD, of the Williams Institute.

In the study, Quality of Life of Adolescents Raised From Birth by Lesbian Mothers, 78 17-year-olds with lesbian mothers were matched on gender, age, parental education, and ethnic background with adolescents in heterosexual-parent families that were drawn from a representative statewide sample.

The adolescents in both groups gave a numerical score (0 = minimum; 10= maximum) to each of a series of statements such as, “I feel I’m getting along with my parents/guardians,” “I look forward to the future,” and ”I feel good about myself.”

The adolescents with lesbian mothers responded generally in the same way as the teenagers with heterosexual parents.

The data in the new report comes from adolescents whose families are participants in the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS), the longest-running and largest prospective investigation of lesbian mothers and their children in the United States.

Initiated by Nanette Gartrell, MD, in 1986, the NLLFS examines the social, psychological, and emotional development of the children as well as the dynamics of planned lesbian families.

This study was conducted by Loes van Gelderen, MSc. (University of Amsterdam), Henny Bos, PhD (University of Amsterdam; Williams Visiting International Scholar 2012), Nanette Gartrell, MD (University of Amsterdam; 2011-12 Williams Institute Visiting Distinguished Scholar ), Jo Hermanns, PhD (University of Amsterdam), and Ellen C. Perrin, MD (Floating Hospital, Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA).

For more information about this study, please see Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. 33 (1): 1-7. For more information about the NLLFS, visit

Picture: Teen Daughter of  Melanie Nathan©

4 thoughts on “Study of Teens of Lesbian Parents shows Happy as Teens from Heterosexual Parents

  1. Oh Melanie, I could have told you that! Lol…my two are right as rain- 12 yr old daughter is in gifted students courses, student council, won her years art awards at her yr. 7 graduation, won four awards at the city library art exhibit, & takes both electric guitar & piano. My 17 yr. old son graduated with honours, highest score for his lit class, double-advanced standing, and walked away with a $1000 scholarship for IT (he’s applied to the two main uni’s here for engineering beginning in Feb).

    Both of them have been raised by me for the bulk of their lives. Even before my divorce, their father didn’t take much interest. In the time since, I have poured myself into the two of them & they are truly lovely people. They both have nice friends & we generally have a house-full on the weekends (we have all of the cool, tech toys, gaming systems, PC’s, & trampoline- lol).

    Not trying to brag- merely corroborating that my sexuality has not impacted them. We have plenty of good male role models in our friends- so they do learn to socialize with nice guys.

    I always think, when presented with the inevitable, “your kids will be teased when other people find out their mother is a lesbian”,

    …Hmmm? Well, then why don’t we make it so that isn’t such an issue by, you know, giving equal rights & not stigmatizing people??


    1. I love it!AND thanks for sharing. Its a shame we have to justify our parental existence at all. Now my turn to brag. My 14 year old is a diligent student who completes her homework even before the teacher has completed the assignment – she is so keen to please and get it done! She is a responsible kid who sets her alarm, gets up in the morning running to embrace the day…. she is smart, witty, outstanding grades, and snowboarding champ. She has a zest for life like none other…She has an eclectic taste in music where she can rattle off 60’s, 70’s or 80’s you name it. She had her batmitzvah and gave a sermon that simply stunned! She is loving, gracious and so much fun to be around. She joined GSA at school and is a budding activist in her own right! She belies her mere 14 years. When she was five years old she looked at a picture I had taken in Vietnam when I went to adopt her as an infant. The picture was of a small child carrying a huge load of heavy sticks on his back. She said “Mama I know that could have been me, I am lucky to be your child!” She has traveled the world with us and has a perception that could one day serve to impact it!

      .. then there is my 6 year old. She is a character. She once climbed the stage where I was giving a speech at a rally about bullying. She took the mike and gave her version of the speech, unafraid of the huge crowd or TV cameras. She said “I am from a rainbow family.. I love my family… on and on ” Oh what a joy being a parent we are sooo lucky

      1. Your 14 yr old sounds like my son- very self-motivated & gets things done asap (I always told him to get his school work done first, then play afterwards)… No snowboarding, but loves downhill skiing (not much here in W.Australia though)…What you see is what you get, with him.

        My daughter, otoh, is my gypsy. Sneaky, manipulative, conniving…oh, and deeply caring, stands up for the “under-dog”, sweet, sooo smart, so artistic & musical, and way too attractive for her own good (or mine, she starts high school this year- groan!). Yep, most think she’s 16! Ouch. I’ve always had an aversion to authority- and she is my punishment- lol.

        Your two sound awesome, Mel- good on you!

        PS- oh wow, here we are- two mums dishing about their kids- (how unusual). 😉

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