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Are Gay And Lesbians Fit To Be Parents Like families headed by heterosexual parents lesbian and gay parents and their children are a diverse group Unlike heterosexual parents and their children however lesbian and gay parents and their children are often subject to prejudice because of sexual orientation that turns judges legislators professionals and the public against them frequently resulting in negative outcomes such as loss of physical custody restrictions on visitation and prohibitions against adoption As with all socially stigmatized groups the beliefs held generally in society about lesbians and gay men are often not based in personal experience but are instead culturally transmitted Because many beliefs about lesbian and gay parents and their children are open to experiential test psychological research can evaluate their accuracy Organized research comparing lesbian and gay adults to heterosexual adults only began in the late 1950s and research-comparing children of gay and lesbian parents with those of heterosexual parents is of a more recent time Research on lesbian and gay adults began with Evelyn Hookers landmark study 1957 and culminated with the declassification of homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973 Case reports on children of gay and lesbian parents began to appear in the psychiatric literature in the early 1970s and have continued to appear Beginning with the original work of Martin and Lyon 1972 first person and fictionalized descriptions of life in lesbian mother families have also become available Organized research on the children of lesbian and gay parents did not however begin to appear in major professional journals until 1978 and most of the available research has been published more recently One belief that often underlies both judicial decision-making in custody litigation and public policies governing foster care and adoption has been the belief that lesbians and gay men are not fit to be parents In particular courts have sometimes assumed that gay men and lesbians are mentally ill
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