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Another criticism has been that, although there is considerable diversity within lesbian and gay parenting communities (Barrett & Tasker, 2001; Morris, Balsam, & Rothblum, 2002), research has often focused on narrowly defined samples.
Early studies did generally focus on well-educated, middle class families, but more recent research has included participants from a wider array of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds (e.g., Wainright et al., 2004).
Systematic research comparing lesbian and gay adults to heterosexual adults began in the late 1950s, and research comparing children of lesbian and gay parents with those of heterosexual parents is of a more recent vintage.
Research on lesbian and gay adults began with Evelyn Hooker's landmark study (1957), resulted in the declassification of homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973 (Gonsiorek, 1991), and continues today (e.g., Cochran, 2001).
Criticisms about nonsystematic sampling have also been addressed by studying samples drawn from known populations, so that response rates can be calculated (e.g., Brewaeys, Ponjaert, van Hall, & Golombok, 1997; Chan, Brooks, Raboy, & Patterson, 1998; Chan, Raboy, & Patterson, 1998).
Particularly notable in this category was the tendency of early studies to compare development among children of a group of divorced lesbian mothers, many of whom were living with lesbian partners, to that among children of a group of divorced heterosexual mothers who were not currently living with heterosexual partners.
Patterson, Ph D Like families headed by heterosexual parents, lesbian and gay parents and their children are a diverse group (Arnup, 1995; Barrett & Tasker, 2001; Martin, 1998; Morris, Balsam, & Rothblum, 2002).