Dr Amaryll Perlesz, one of the principal investigators, today said, "This is the first major study of its kind in Australia or New Zealand. We anticipate a very positive response from both the lesbian and gay community as well as people interested in family relationships from a research or policy perspective."
The study, titled Work, Love and Play in Diverse Family Life in Australia and New Zealand, will look at the ways in which gay and lesbian headed families negotiate parenting and household responsibilities, as well as their engagement with extended family networks and the broader community.
"Most previous research on lesbian and gay parenting has focused on child outcomes. While that is obviously important research, the focus of this study is on the family as a whole," said Dr Perlesz. "We will be looking at the positive aspects of every day family life for gay and lesbian parents and their children, such as the extent to which same sex parents negotiate household tasks on an egalitarian basis."
The study will also explore the types of support available to lesbian and gay headed families, including support from grandparents and other family members as well as from the gay and lesbian community and mainstream services.
The study has been designed in a way that will allow researchers to compare their findings with those of the Growing Up in Australia Study, a large scale, longitudinal study of childhood and parenting experiences being run by the Australian Institute of Family Studies.
"The benefit of this is that we will be able to compare what we know about the formal and informal support networks available to heterosexual headed families with those of same sex headed families," said Dr Perlesz. "We will learn more about whether lesbians and gay men receive adequate parenting support within their local communities."
The research is being funded by the Faculty of Health Sciences at LaTrobe University. It will be overseen by a team of researchers from several major research centres including The Bouverie Centre, La Trobe University, The University of Melbourne Department of General Practice, Relationships Australia and the Australian Research Centre for Sex, Health and Society
Phase one of the study involves the roll out of an online questionnaire. Researchers are keen for any lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people who have active parenting responsibilities for a child or children under the age of 18 to complete the questionnaire. It can be found online at www.thisurvey.com/bouverie .