Volume 63, Issue 5 p. 1025-1042

Children of Lesbian and Gay Parents

Charlotte J. Patterson

Corresponding Author

Charlotte J. Patterson

University of Virginia

should be addressed to Charlotte J. Patterson, Department of Psychology, Gilmer Hall, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22903.Search for more papers by this author
First published: October 1992
Citations: 58

The first draft of this paper was written while the author was a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley; I wish to thank the Department of Psychology, the Institute of Human Development, and the Beatrice Bain Research Group for their hospitality during this period. I also wish to thank Cathy Cade, Deborah Cohn, Carolyn Cowan, Lin Gentemann, Larry Kurdek, Dan McPherson, Ritch Savin-Williams, and Melvin Wilson for their encouragement and for their comments on earlier versions of the paper.


This paper reviews research evidence regarding the personal and social development of children with gay and lesbian parents. Beginning with estimates of the numbers of such children, sociocultural, theoretical, and legal reasons for attention to their development are then outlined. In this context, research studies on sexual identity, personal development, and social relationships among these children are then reviewed. These studies include assessment of possible differences between children with gay or lesbian versus heterosexual parents as well as research on sources of diversity among children of gay and lesbian parents. Research on these topics is relatively new, and many important questions have yet to be addressed. To date, however, there is no evidence that the development of children with lesbian or gay parents is compromised in any significant respect relative to that among children of heterosexual parents in otherwise comparable circumstances. Having begun to respond to heterosexist and homophobic questions posed by psychological theory, judicial opinion, and popular prejudice, child development researchers are now in a position also to explore a broader range of issues raised by the emergence of different kinds of gay and lesbian families.