Study to assess stigma and health of children with same-sex attracted parents
An Australian first and world leading study, into the overall health and wellbeing of children of same-sex attracted parents is being led by the University of Melbourne.
The study is the biggest of its kind to investigate the complete physical, mental and social wellbeing of children with same-sex attracted parents, and in particular the role that stigma and discrimination play in their health and wellbeing.
Lead researcher Simon Crouch, from the Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program at the Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne said international research suggested these children are generally doing well, but there are no comprehensive Australian studies and some areas need further attention.
"We know that same-sex families encounter stigma and discrimination on a regular basis. We will be exploring experiences of discrimination and how families build their children’s resilience and coping in this context," Crouch said.
Researchers aim to recruit 500 families representing around 750 children. To date studies of this type have rarely considered more than 100 children.
The Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families (ACHESS) aims to describe all the issues surrounding a child’s health and wellbeing including for the first time, physical aspects and health behaviours including diet and exercise.
"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 with them such as teachers and GPs," Crouch said.
"We also want to broaden the scope of investigation to encompass not just lesbian parents, which has been the main focus of current studies, to include gay male, bisexual and transgender parents including single parents, who all identify as same sex attracted parents.
"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."
The study will not only invite same sex attracted parents to participate in the research but also children over the age of 10. "We also want to capture the voices of the children within the families to ensure their needs are, for the first time, well documented," he said.
Rodney Chiang-Cruise, the Convenor of Gay Dads Australia and a community representative on the research team, highlighted the importance of the research.
"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."
Jason Tuazon-McCheyne has a six-year old son Ruben with his partner Adrian.
"We are fortunate to have a healthy son. But if we can help researches understand what affects the health and wellbeing of children from families like ours then future same-sex attracted parents will be better equipped to ensure that their children develop healthily."
Professor Elizabeth Waters and Associate Professor Ruth McNair from the University of Melbourne are co-investigators on the study, which is being conducted in collaboration with researchers from the Bouverie Centre at Latrobe University.
Participants are being sought for the study. If you are same-sex attracted, have children under the age of 18 years and interested in participating, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.achess.org.au.
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