A Rutgers University study led by researcher Andrew Leland recently found that gay dads are more likely to be actively involved in their children’s lives and pursue school-based activities than their straight parent counterparts.
Leland said many men who had taken part in his study have said being actively involved in their children’s lives ‘preemptively counteract potential negative encounters with school personnel and other families’.
In other words, gay dads feel like people are going to judge their parenting skills because they’re gay – so they work harder to stop that assumption.
Leland interviewed fathers from twenty two-father families living in Northeast USA and corroborated with scholarly research on same-sex families and a study by the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network to deliver some interesting learnings.
Gay dads fall in (and out of) traditional work/home roles
Leland observed that two-father households can fall into “traditional” roles where one dad is the primary income provider and the other handles domestic tasks or where the children go to a caretaker while the two men work full-time jobs.
However, the majority of two-father families divided household and work tasks based on each man’s individual strengths rather than just resigning each to all the ‘homemaker’ and ‘breadwinner’ roles, regardless of one’s talents. Generally, gay dads are more likely to feel more ‘free’ of typical societal moulds.
Gay dads are more involved in school and community than straight parents
The Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN) study of 588 LGBT parents found that gay dads were more likely than heterosexual dads to be involved in school-based activities like being a classroom parent, teacher’s assistant, book reader, PTA member, event organiser or school board member.
Leland and other researchers concluded that this increased participation may come in part from the fathers’ desire to counter bias and assert same-sex visibility and inclusion in schools.
“Gay dads prefer schools and communities that are safe and inclusive,” Leland said. “They want [anti-gay] judges … and lawmakers bent on barring them from fatherhood to see that two-dad families are for the most part just like any other family.”
A Clark University researcher Abbie Goldberg added that gay parents tend to be ‘more motivated and committed’ on average because they chose to be parents. She explained almost 50% of pregnancies among heterosexual couples are accidental, whereas with gay and lesbian couples that is rarely the case.