$133,920 Federal Study Examines LGBT Families

By Melanie Arter | April 2, 2015 | 3:46pm EDT

In this Aug. 27, 2014 photo, Tara Newberry, second from left, reads to son Evan Newberry as Tara's partner Adele Newberry reads to their daughter Emily Newberry at their home in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

(CNSNews.com) – The National Institutes of Health through the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has awarded $133,920 in taxpayer funding to the University of North Carolina Greensboro to study families headed by lesbian and gay parents.

“Although there is very high interest in the demography and welfare of families headed by lesbian and gay (LG) parents, there is currently very limited longitudinal research on LG families or the transition to LG parenthood,” the grant stated. “Most of the extant literature is descriptive, comparative, or limited to distinct subgroups of LG parents.”

The proposed research will “expand on the current lesbian and gay parent-headed family studies literature by applying both family demography and psychobiological systems approaches to a biosocial model examining patterns of lesbian and gay family formation and family functioning.”

“When considering all possible structural and custodial arrangements, the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry estimates that there are millions of children living with LG parents in the United States, and a 2011 Institute of Medicine report concludes that a better understanding of the role of parenthood in adult LGBT is necessary for a fuller understanding of LGBT health,” the grant stated.

Although the study, “Integrating Demography and Biosocial Stress Models of LGBTI Family Formation,” mentions bisexual, transgender and intersex in the title, research will focus on “same-sex co-residing couples” with children irrespective of specific gender identities, Roger Mills-Koonce, project leader for the grant, said in a email to CNSNews.com.

“The current data collection for this study focuses on same-sex co-residing couples (whether either both may identify as lesbian, gay, intersex, pansexual, or bisexual) and co-residential couples in which one or both members identify as trans* or some variant of gender-nonconforming,” he wrote.

When asked if his analysis will “include how being raised in an LGBTI-headed household impacts the children examined in this study,” Mills-Koonce responded, “This is not a comparative study child outcomes as they relate to have LGBT or heterosexual parents.

“At this point I believe that there is ample scientific literature on this topic,” he wrote, adding that more data and information “is always better.”

“Instead, this is a within-group study of same-sex or trans-couples that examines the factors influencing their decisions about becoming parents (whether, when, how, why, and where), and the individual, relational, contextual, and cultural influences on these decisions, as well as individual, relational, and family well-being,” Mills-Koonce wrote.

“The goal here is to understand the unique experiences of individual couples, as opposed to treating all same-sex couples and trans couples the same and comparing them to opposite sex couples,” he added.

The project began on Sept. 17, 2013 and continues until May 31, 2018. Funding for the project began on June 1, 2014 and lasts until May 31, 2015.

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