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Lesbian and Gay Parenting: What the Experts Have to Say

31 December 1998 Published in Litigation Materials

Lesbian and Gay Parenting: What the Experts Have to Say The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA): The CWLA was founded in 1920 and is the nation’s oldest and largest organization "devoted entirely to the well-being of America’s vulnerable children and their families." It is an association of close to 1,000 public and private nonprofit agencies that assist more than two million children and families each year with a wide range of services, including family foster care. In addition to the provision of direct services, the CWLA provides "internationally recognized standards that define the highest level of practice in child welfare services." In 1988, the CWLA adopted its Standards re Sexual Orientation of Applicants:

"All applicants [for adoption] should have an equal opportunity to apply for the adoptions of children, and receive fair and equal treatment and consideration of their qualifications as adoptive parents, under applicable law. (5.4) Applicants should be fairly assessed on their abilities to successfully parent a child needing family membership and not on their appearance, differing lifestyle, or sexual preference. (5.4) Agencies should assess each applicant from the perspective of what would be in the best interests of the child. The interests of the child are paramount. (5.4) Sexual preference should not be the sole criteria on which the suitability of adoptive applicants is based. Consideration should be given to other personality and maturity factors and on the ability of the applicant to meet the specific needs of the individual child. (5.8)"

The American Psychological Association (APA):

The APA is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychologists in the United States. Its membership includes more than 155,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Its mission is "to advance psychology as a science, as a profession, and as a means of promoting human welfare."

In 1975, the APA passed a resolution stating that "Homosexuality, per se, implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability, or general social or vocational capabilities," and calling for an end to all public and private discrimination against lesbians and gay men. In 1976, the APA adopted a resolution stating that "The sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation of natural or prospective adoptive or foster parents should not be the sole or primary variable considered in custody or placement cases." In 1995, the APA published Lesbian and Gay Parenting: A Resource for Psychologists. The APA publication surveys the research literature and provides an annotated bibliography of published psychological literature. It summarizes the findings of 43 studies, and concludes that "the results of existing research comparing gay and lesbian parents to heterosexual parents and children of gay or lesbian parents to children of heterosexual parents are quite uniform: common stereotypes are not supported by the data." Based on the research evidence, the APA concludes:

"In summary, there is no evidence to suggest that lesbians and gay men are unfit to be parents or that psychosocial development among children of gay men or lesbians is compromised in any respect relative to that among offspring of heterosexual parents. Not a single study has found children of gay or lesbian parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents. Indeed, the evidence to date suggests that home environments provided by gay and lesbian parents are as likely as those provided by heterosexual parents to support and enable children’s psychosocial growth." (p.8)

The North American Council on Adoptable Children (NCAC)

The North American Council on Adoptable Children, one of the nation’s foremost centers of expertise on adoption and foster care, has clearly and unequivocally rejected the use of sexual orientation as a basis for disqualifying prospective adoptive parents for children in need. On March 14, 1998, the NCAC adopted the following policy statement:

"Everyone with the ability to successfully parent a child in foster care or adoption is entitled to fair and equal consideration regardless of sexual orientation or differing life style or physical appearance." 

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