So, what is the Gay Fathers Project?

It’s a study that seeks to answer HOW and WHY paternal care evolved in our species by measuring changes in hormone levels in fathers. This Project is a groundbreaking research initiative exploring these responses in a community often ignored by biosocial research: gay male parents.

Why is fatherhood in humans important to study?

Because it’s REALLY UNIQUE! Among all of our great ape relatives, humans are the ONLY species whose male members care for their young. This care has implications for our unique evolution. Paternal care, including providing food, protection, or teaching, could have allowed us to have an extended period of learning and dependence, which we call “childhood.” And childhood, in turn, could have provided us the time to acquire things like specialized skills, extreme intelligence and language. 

But why gay fathers?

Well, if having one male care for children is an anomaly among our primate relatives, having two males invest and care for a child, with the potential for no female involvement, is even more unique. How do two fathers split childcare responsibilities? Do both members of the couple contribute equally? Do both members respond physically in the same manner to childcare?

Another goal of the project is to expand the definition of fatherhood in contemporary America. The current focus of investigations into paternal care does not reflect the TRUE DIVERSITY OF FATHERHOOD In the United States, the ever-increasing number of gay men becoming parents, either through adoption, surrogacy, fostering, or blended families, has recently been termed the “gay baby boom.” Yet, in spite of this demographic trend, gay fathers have not received the same level of biosocial research attention as straight fathers. The Gay Fathers Project seeks to CORRECT THIS DISPARITY by making the important demographic group of gay dads the focus of this research.

The general hypothesis of this study is that the hormone/behavior interaction associated with parenting is independent of sexual orientation. To test this hypothesis, primary investigator Erin Burke will assess hormones in male couples between the ages of 21 and 60 with children in comparison with male couples without children.

If you are interested in volunteering for this project, please explore the “How to Participate” page of this website.