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Pediatrician With A Mission

Pediatrician With A MissionThrough her research and advocacy work, Tufts School of Medicine professor Dr. Ellen Perrin is influencing social change.

Boston [07.24.06] To Tufts School of Medicine professor Dr. Ellen Perrin, pediatrics is more than just medicine; it’s a vehicle for social change. Taking after her political activist parents, Perrin has helped to solve social issues throughout her medical career, The Boston Globe recently reported.

“Politics, specifically politics with a progressive tincture, is in Dr. Ellen Perrin's blood,” the Globe reported about the 62-year-old, whose parents were both prominent sociologists.

Perrin, director of the Division of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics and the Center for Children with Special Needs at Tufts-New England Medical Center’s Floating Hospital for Children, has some claims to fame of her own. She is a leading expert on same-sex parenting, with her research showing that there is no relationship between parents’ sexual orientation and any measure of a child’s emotional, social, or behavioral adjustment.

“There's adequate research to show that children of gay and lesbian parents do fine,” she told the newspaper. A literature review on this topic that she authored in the journal Pediatrics in 2002 surfaced during last month’s U.S. Senate debate over a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The Senate rejected the amendment, as did the House of Representatives. “That was a highlight,” she said.

Perrin, who serves as chair of Pro Family Pediatricians – a group of pediatricians opposed to the Federal Marriage Amendment – told the Globe that she is proud that her research has influenced decisions on Capitol Hill. Perrin is also an author of a new article in the July issue of the journal Pediatrics that describes the impact of marriage among same-gender parents on their children.

The opportunity to impact policy, Perrin said, attracted her to the field. “Pediatrics had the community and social activist aspects I was looking for,” she told the Globe. “I'm not a philosopher, I'm a practical person,” she explained to the Globe. “I want to find small steps we can take in a positive direction.”

Her research has included investigations of children’s understanding of illness and health, social stigma, the adjustment of children with a chronic health problem, and attention deficit disorder, in addition to children whose parents are gay or lesbian.

“My dream is a society where all children and all families are valued, and social policies support them,” she told the Globe.

 

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