Commentary– Wanting a Mom and a Dad: Children of Same-Sex Couples
Ontario Judge: Parents Have No Right to Know What Homosexual Activist Taught Their Children in School
Study Shows Homosexual Parenting Not Equal to Heterosexual Marriage
Same Study Finds Host of Challenges for Kids of Homosexual Parents
‘Gold Standard’ Study’s Striking Findings: Children of Heterosexual Parents Happier, Healthier
Mark Regnerus and the Storm Over His Controversial Homosexual Parenting Study
The Vindication of Mark Regnerus…
Commentary-– Wanting a Mom and a Dad: Children of Same-Sex Couples
The Supreme Court is deciding whether or not to redefine marriage—and we're hearing a lot of claims about how well children do when they’re reared by homosexual couples. Sad to say, some of those claims are being made to the Supremes—and they are completely false.
One man who knows a little about this first-hand is Dr. Robert Oscar Lopez, who teaches at California State University at Northridge. Lopez, who says he’s bi-sexual, was raised by his lesbian mother and her partner. And while he’s for civil unions, he’s against redefining marriage.
At “Public Discourse,” a website run by the Witherspoon Institute, Lopez writes of the great professional risk he took when he and Doug Mainwaring filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court. Risky, because Lopez knows how vicious homosexual activists can sometimes be when anyone disputes their claims. Lopez is speaking out in part because he was asked to do so by others raised by same-sex partners, but who fear the repercussions of going public with their feelings.
Contrary to what the gay lobby claims, Lopez writes, children raised by same-sex parents “deeply feel the loss of a father or mother, no matter how much we love our gay parents.”
These children know they are “powerless to stop the decision to deprive them of a father or mother,” he adds. And this decision comes with serious and often permanent consequences. For instance, they “feel disconnected from the gender cues of people around them,” and long for a role model of the opposite sex.
While they love the people who raised them, they experience anger at their decision to deprive them of one or both biological parents—and “shame or guilt for resenting their loving parents.”
The so-called “consensus” by psychologists and pediatricians on the soundness of same-sex parenting is, Lopez writes, “frankly bogus.” The truth is, there is no data to support that assertion.
Instead, as political scientists Leon Kass of the University of Chicago and Harvey Mansfield of Harvard University note, “Claims that science provides support for constitutionalizing a right to same-sex marriage must rest necessarily on ideology”—and “ideology is not science.”
By contrast, we have a great deal of research proving that the best possible home for children is one led by a married mother and father. Two “fathers” and two “mothers” cannot begin to compare, because, as Professor David Popenoe of Rutgers University explains, “The two sexes are different to the core, and each is necessary—culturally and biologically—for the optimal development of a human being.”
This is more evidence that … children reared by a married father and mother—is the best one.
And it's why—no matter how well-meaning homosexual couples may be—it is “unconscionable” as Lopez puts it, “to deliberately force a state of deprivation on innocent children.”
If the Supreme Court decides to ignore biological and psychological reality and redefines marriage to include homosexual couples, adoption agencies will be under even greater pressure to place children with same-sex couples. What's best for the child—a married mother and father—will no longer matter. And more children will be left, as Lopez writes, “to clean up the mess left behind by the sexual revolution.”
[We hope that the] Supreme Court [will have the] wisdom on this vitally important matter of marriage—and the courage to use it.
Reprinted with permission from Breakpoint.org.
[3 June 13, Eric Metaxas, Breakpoint.org http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/wanting-a-mom-and-a-dad-children-of-same-sex-couples?utm_source=LifeSiteNews.com+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=985fbf59be-LifeSiteNews_com_US_Headlines_06_03_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0caba610ac-985fbf59be-326232694]
Ontario Judge: Parents Have No Right to Know What Homosexual Activist Taught Their Children in School
Parents and ratepayers in a Hamilton area school board will never know exactly what a homosexual activist told their children during a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) assembly a year ago.
The Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) of Ontario upheld last week the decision of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) to “deny access to the record” of the speech.
Suresh Dominic told LifeSiteNews.com that parents of school children should be “outraged that they have been denied the right to know what is being taught to their children.”
Last November, a certified teacher named Laura Wolfson was invited as a guest speaker at a school-wide GSA held at Parkside High School in Dundas. Wolfson reportedly identified herself to the 400 students as a lesbian “youth worship leader” from a synagogue and held herself out to be an authority on Old Testament Scripture.
Wolfson allegedly sought to discredit teaching on homosexuality by suggesting that since the eating of fish on Fridays was no longer adhered to, neither should biblical teachings on homosexuality.
She allegedly began her treatment of Scripture by providing a definition of the word “abomination,” after which she pointed out that two offenses other than homosexuality were labeled “abominations” in the Bible. They were “not keeping the Sabbath holy” and “getting drunk”. Wolfson suggested that since no one would condemn these two acts as “abominations” today, then it made no sense to condemn homosexual acts either.
Parents, ratepayers, and pro-family groups were outraged that school officials invited a speaker who publicly discredited Judeo-Christian beliefs. Many saw this as a foretaste of what Premier Dalton McGuinty’s newly proposed anti-bullying legislation, Bill 13, would bring into the schools. Critics warned that McGuinty’s bill concealed a radical agend
a that would trample religious freedom and parental rights.
Parents, ratepayers, and pro-family groups demanded to know what exactly these children had heard.
Last March, LifeSiteNews.com filed a request to the HWDSB asking for a copy of Wolfson’s speech, which the HWDSB admitted to having.
HWDSB denied the request in May, saying that releasing the speech would constitute an “unjustifiable invasion of personal privacy”.
LifeSiteNews appealed that decision, filing a Freedom of Information request with the IPC on behalf of parents, ratepayers, and pro-family groups, again asking for Wolfson’s speaking notes to be released.
In the appeal, LifeSiteNews argued that there was “no reason why the contents of the speech should be kept private” since it was “publicly delivered” in front of students and staff at a public high school funded by tax dollars.
“It defies reason that what has been presented to school children and staff at a publicly funded school during a school wide assembly should be kept hidden from parents of school children and ratepayers in the HWDSB district,” wrote LifeSiteNews in a submission.
But IPC adjudicator Stella Ball sided with the HWDSB, preventing the release of Wolfson’s speech.
Ball, in her decision dated October 31, wrote that she was “not convinced” that “compelling public interest in disclosure arises out a need to know what publicly funded school boards are teaching students.”
Ball also stated that since the speech mentions “the affected party’s sexual orientation and religious beliefs and associations” its release would “constitute an unjustified invasion of the affect party’s personal privacy [according to section 14 of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act]” …
[10 Nov 12, Peter Baklinski, Hamilton, Ontario, http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/judge-parents-have-no-right-to-know-what-homosexual-activist-taught-their-c]
Remainder of article: http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/judge-parents-have-no-right-to-know-what-homosexual-activist-taught-their-c
Study Shows Homosexual Parenting Not Equal to Heterosexual Marriage
A groundbreaking study reveals that adult children of homosexual and lesbian parents experience far greater negative social, economic and emotional outcomes than children raised within intact biological families.
The quality of University of Texas professor Mark Regnerus’ study highlights the deficiencies of previous studies that homosexual advocates have relied on to grant same-sex couples a right to marry and adopt children.
"The empirical claim that no notable differences exist must go," said Regnerus in his study published in Social Science Research.
Regnerus’ comprehensive study examines nearly 3,000 adult children from eight different family structures and evaluates them within 40 social and emotional categories. The results reveal that children who remain with intact biological families were better educated, experienced greater mental and physical health, less drug experimentation, less criminal activity and reported overall higher levels of happiness.
The greatest negative outcomes were found among children of lesbian mothers.
This contradicts defective studies popularized by the media claiming children fare as well, or better, with lesbian mothers.
Regnerus’ study showed negative outcomes for these adult children in 25 of 40 categories including far higher rates of sexual assault (23% of children with lesbian mothers were touched sexually by a parent or adult, in contrast to 2% raised by married parents), poorer physical health, increased depression, increased marijuana use and higher unemployment (69% of children from lesbian households were on welfare, compared to 17% of those with married parents).
Regnerus’ study debunks an often-cited 2005 American Psychological Association (APA) brief that concluded, “[n]ot a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents."
In contrast to Regnerus, previous studies compared children of homosexual parents to children of stepfamilies and single parents. Regnerus also relies solely on information directly from adult children rather than opinions from their parents.
A second new study confirms the studies touted by the APA are unreliable. Loren Marks, an associate professor at Louisiana State University, found the APA’s studies had limited data and focused on gender roles and sexual identities. They neglected to examine the children’s education outcomes, employment, risk of substance abuse, criminal behavior or suicide.
The discredited APA-endorsed studies have been used in attempts to impact international legal decisions.
Amicus briefs submitted in E.B. v. France in the European Court of Human Rights defended adoption rights for same sex couples citing APA studies with claims that no objective scientific evidence exists to justify “different treatment of same sex couples who wish to adopt because (to the knowledge of FIDH, ILGA-Europe, BAAF and APGL) all reputable scientific studies have shown that the children of lesbian and gay parents are no more likely to suffer from emotional or other problems than the children of heterosexual parents.”
In the case of Karen Atala and Daughters v. Chile in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR), an amicus brief defending lesbian parents who lost custody of their children noted that the American Academy of Pediatrics “recognizes that a considerable body of professional literature provides evidence that children with parents who are homosexual can have the same advantages and the same expectations for health, adjustment, and development as can children whose parents are heterosexual.”
[Jun 14, 2012, Wendy Wright and Lisa Correnti, WASHINGTON, DC, June 15 (C-FAM) http://www.c-fam.org/fridayfax/volume-15/study-shows-homosexual-parenting-not-equal-to-heterosexual-marriage.html]
WILL THIS STUDY CAUSE CONCERN BY THOSE FEDERAL AND STATE AGENCIES PROMOTING THE ADOPTION OF ORPHANS BY HOMOSEXUAL PARTNERS?
Study Finds Host of Challenges for Kids of Homosexual Parents
By Dr. Keith Ablow
Published June 12, 2012
The "no differences" theory that children of gay parents—married or not—do not substantially differ from the children of married, heterosexual parents has now been called into question. Two studies published on June 10, in the esteemed journal, Social Science Research, come to conclusions that will cause a great deal of controversy, and should bring about further research. Here's a look at the findings:
1) A careful analysis of the research studies that led the American Psychological Association (in 2005) to assert that the children of gay and lesbian parents are in no way disadvantaged, compared to the children of heterosexual parents, has concluded those studies were inadequate. According to Dr. Loren Marks, Associate Professor at Louisiana State University, who authored the analysis: “The available data, which are drawn from small convenience samples, are insufficient to
support a strong generalizable claim…such a statement would not be grounded in science.”
2) The New Family Structures Study (NESS), published by Dr. Mark Regnerus, Associate Professor at the University of Texas, compared thousands of young adults (ages 18-39) who were raised in different types of family arrangements.
Those who knew that their mothers had had a lesbian relationship fared significantly worse on measures of educational attainment and household income, reported more depression, used marijuana more, more often reported forced sexual encounters, felt less close to their biological mother, felt less safe and secure in their family of origin, had more often pled guilty to a minor criminal offense and were more likely to be on public assistance.
Those who knew their fathers had had a gay relationship were more likely to have been arrested, to have thought recently about suicide, to feel depressed, to report sexually transmitted diseases and to have experienced forced sex.
Twenty-three percent of young adults who knew their mother to have had a gay relationship reported being forced to have sexual contact with a parent or adult caregiver, while only 2 percent of intact families with a mother and father reported such contact. For female young adults, that figure leapt to 31 percent (while only 3 percent of young women from intact heterosexual families reported this).
In saying that the children of parents who were known to have engaged in homosexual relationships reported these increased rates of suffering, it is important to note that the rates were higher for these children (now young adults) than for children in intact families with two biological parents, children whose parents divorced late in life, children who were raised with a step-parent in the home, children raised by a single parent and children adopted by strangers.
This data—and it is data—does not indicate why these differences were found. And neither paper suggests how to minimize the hurdles that children of gay parents seem to face during adulthood. But the data should not be dismissed. It was generated, after all, by academic leaders at major universities and published by an esteemed journal with no political agenda and an advisory board with representatives from about three dozen universities.
No doubt those with an investment in whether gay marriage is legalized will frame these findings as evidence that we should not be encouraging such unions. Perhaps proponents of gay marriage will argue that more need be done to mainstream such unions, and homosexuality itself, in order to reduce any stigma suffered by children born to parents who have had gay relationships. After all, this study did not specifically address (as a separate group) the children born to gay couples who were married.
What we should avoid at all costs is silencing such research and such discussion because it is seen by some as politically incorrect. Where optimizing the well-being of children is involved, no stone should be left unturned.
It would be important to know, for example, whether children who are born to gay parents seem to run into less (or more) trouble if their parents are married.
It would seem to be important to know whether children of gay parents run into less trouble if they were the products of artificial insemination vs. the product of a prior heterosexual relationship. Where the fallout of certain childrearing circumstances seems to be more depression, suicide, lawlessness, drug use, sexually transmitted disease and economic hardship, we ought not scare off the scientific community from doing what it does—research and reporting of the facts.
In this regard, I should note something important: I hesitated to write about this topic in an opinion piece. I didn’t hesitate because I think the topic frivolous. I didn’t hesitate because I think of Social Science Research as a meaningless journal (because it is anything but that). I didn’t hesitate because funding for the NESS comes partly from conservative groups (because data are data, unless they can be refuted on objective grounds, and this study is painstaking, in many regards). I hesitated because I worried about getting more of the threats and hate mail (by post and e-mail) I receive whenever I even mention the seemingly unspeakable issue of how social forces related to sexual orientation and gender identity might impact well being in children.
Yet, yielding to that worry would mean that being bullied way back when I was a school kid might have left me timid, and I just can’t abide that.
When I see a path of enquiry that might yield some bit of truth, I want to try to be the person who takes it, no matter how treacherous. And, so, it is with this commentary, now in your good hands, to take or leave, to debate, to discuss—as Tennyson wrote, “to strive, to seek, to find…”
Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team. Dr. Ablow can be reached at [email protected].
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/06/12/study-finds-host-challenges-for-kids-gay-parents/?intcmp=features#ixzz1xadNd0OQ
‘Gold Standard’ Study’s Striking Findings: Children of Heterosexual Parents Happier, Healthier
A new study which found that children of heterosexual parents fare better on numerous indicators of personal well-being than children of homosexual parents is being hailed by true marriage advocates as by far the most scientifically credible studies to date on the subject.
Authored by Mark Regnerus, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, the study will be published in the July 2012 issue of Social Science Research, and is currently available online.
Regnerus’ findings, based upon the responses from children raised by their biological parents, or a homosexual parent with his or her partner, were striking.
He found that 12% of those with a lesbian mother and 24% of those with a gay father reported having recently contemplated suicide, compared to only 5% raised by an intact biological family or a single parent.
While 28% of those raised by a lesbian mother and 20% of those raised by a gay father reported being currently unemployed, compared to 8% raised by an intact biological family and 13% raised by a single parent.
One of the most remarkable findings was that 23% of those with a lesbian mother reported having been touched sexually by a parent or adult, compared to 2% of those raised in an intact biological family. The percentage was 6% among those with a gay father and 10% with a single parent. In another striking statistic, 31% of those raised by a lesbian mother, and 25% of those raised by a gay father, reported being forced to have sex against their will at some point, compared to just 8% of those raised by their biological parents.
Forty percent of those raised by a lesbian mother and 25% raised by a gay father reported having had an affair while married or cohabiting, compared to 13% of those raised by their biological parents. And 19% of those raised by a lesbian mother or gay father were currently or recently receiving psychotherapy, compared to 8% of those raised by their heterosexual parents
Twenty percent of those raised by lesbians and 25% of those raised by gay men reported having contracted a sexual transmitted infection, compared to 8% of those raised by their biological parents.
Interestingly, only 61% of those raised by a lesbian mother and 71% of those raised by a gay faather reported identifying as “entirely heteros
exual,” compared to 90% of those raised by an intact biological family.
“To claim that there are few meaningful statistical differences between the different groups evaluated here would be to state something that is empirically inaccurate,” Regnerus writes.
Regnerus’ findings conflict with studies widely touted by homosexual activists which have claimed that children raised by homosexual parents fare as well or even better than their peers. Many of these studies, Regnerus points out, have relied on small, self-selected samples, parent rather than child reported outcomes, and have exhibited evidence of political bias.
He notes, for instance, that one meta-analysis claiming that homosexual parenting had a positive impact on children was problematic because participants in the studies were nearly always a small group of volunteers “whose claims about documentable parenting successes are very relevant in recent legislative and judicial debates over rights and legal statuses.”
The problem of sample bias, in fact, has been pervasive in previous literature on the subject, according to Regnerus.
“Many published studies on the children of same-sex parents collect data from ‘snowball’ or convenience samples,” he writes. “One notable example of this is the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study, analyses of which were prominently featured in the media in 2011 (e.g., Huffington Post, 2011). The NLLFS employs a convenience sample, recruited entirely by self-selection from announcements posted ‘at lesbian events, in women’s bookstores, and in lesbian newspapers’ in Boston, Washington, and San Francisco.”
Regnerus continues: “While I do not wish to downplay the significance of such a longitudinal study—it is itself quite a feat—this sampling approach is a problem when the goal (or in this case, the practical result and conventional use of its findings) is to generalize to a population. All such samples are biased, often in unknown ways.”
In contrast, Regnerus drew his data from the New Family Structures Study, a data collection project that drew from a large, random sample of American young adults.
Regnerus analyzed responses from 3,000 young adults, 175 of whom reported having a lesbian mother and 73 of whom had a gay father. He compared their responses to their heterosexually-raised counterparts, to determine who had fared better on forty different social, emotional, and relational outcomes.
Regnerus notes that his study is one of the few that measures outcomes as reported by the children of homosexuals, rather than relying on an assessment by the homosexual parent.
Critics of the study are contending that the young adults surveyed were raised by homosexual parents at a time when there was a greater social stigma attached to homosexuality, a fact which may have contributed to greater instability among homosexual couples.
“It is clear that families are stronger and more stable when they can stay together,” Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the pro-gay Family Equality Council told ABC News. “That means what we should be doing is supporting policies that make it easier for gay and lesbian families to stay together.”
Traditional marriage advocate Patrick Fagan, however, called Chrisler’s assertion an unsubstantiated hypothesis in comments to LifeSiteNews.
“If you cannot take these results, there is nothing in the field. Nothing else comes close to it. The gays who object to it would essentially be saying, ‘we know nothing,’” he said. “It has essentially supplanted all the other prior research because none of them come close to it for national representativeness.”
Fagan, who directs the Marriage and Religion Institute of the Family Research Council called the study the “gold standard” for research on children of homosexuals.
[11 June 12, Christine Dhanagom, http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/gold-standard-studys-striking-findings-children-of-heterosexual-parents-hap?utm_source=LifeSiteNews.com+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=c98444ef9d-LifeSiteNews_com_US_Headlines_06_11_2012&utm_medium=email]
Mark Regnerus and the Storm Over His Controversial Homosexual Parenting Study
[Comment: Mark Regnerus’s response to his critics shows more clearly that instability is characteristic of same-sex relationships and that stable same-sex parented households are virtually non-existent.
Seldom has the publication of a dry, factual report in sociology caused such a storm of controversy. In June 2012, the bimonthly peer-reviewed journal Social Science Research published an article by University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus titled, “How different are the children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study.” The answer to his title’s question was: quite a bit different, and most of the differences are not good.
Within minutes, it seemed, Professor Regnerus, a gifted and highly productive scholar with two previous books published on related subjects, was denounced as “anti-gay,” attacked personally and professionally, and his thoughtful, measured research conclusions were buried under an avalanche of invective, abuse, and misunderstanding.
For the remainder of the summer months, Regnerus withstood an onslaught of criticism, but as the autumn arrived, it became clear that his reputation and the soundness of his research had been vindicated.
What had happened?
The editor of Social Science Research, Professor James D. Wright of the University of Central Florida, had known that Regnerus’s article would spark discussion about family and sexuality among sociologists. As he would later say himself when others complained that he was trying to drive up the readership of the journal, “guilty as charged.” What editor doesn’t want people reading and talking about what he works so hard to produce?
This is why Wright published, alongside Regnerus’s new research, a probing criticism of the inadequacy of nearly all previous research on the question of parenting by people in same-sex relationships, authored by Professor Loren Marks of Louisiana State University (who was not connected with Regnerus’s new research in any way). It’s also why Wright invited critiques to be published, in the same issue, by three experienced scholars in the sociology of the family (Paul Amato, David Eggebeen, and Cynthia Osborne), with rejoinders by Regnerus and Marks. It made for a very interesting exchange.
The June 2012 issue of SSR was a red-hot topic of controversy because Regnerus and Marks overthrew a “consensus” among sociologists on the “no differences” thesis—the view that there are no meaningful differences, in the life outcomes of children, between those raised by heterosexual parents and those raised by gay or lesbian ones.
In its most extreme form—one that is not even supported by the generally low-quality research published before Regnerus’s article—the “no differences” thesis holds that children raised by parents who have same-sex relationships do just a
s well as, or in some cases even better than, those raised in the intact biological family by their own natural parents who are and remain faithfully married to each other.
The American Psychological Association, despite the cagy wording of its bombshell assertion, was probably happy to invite this unwarranted inference in its 2005 legal brief, published to influence judicial deliberations in same-sex marriage lawsuits. The APA said “the evidence to date suggests that home environments provided by lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those provided by heterosexual parents to support and enable children’s psychosocial growth.” And who didn’t think of the Ozzie-and-Harriet natural family when reading “heterosexual parents” in that sentence?
But as Loren Marks showed, the 59 studies grounding the APA’s statement were all deeply flawed, with sampling and design problems, inadequate statistical rigor, and conclusions about “no differences” that could not be justifiably generalized to the larger population.
And whereas Marks offered only well-founded criticism of previous research, Regnerus offered something new: the first research employing a large, random sample of the young adult population, directly asking them about their childhood experiences and their present state of life, across a range of variables touching on economic and educational success, romantic and sexual experience, substance abuse, experiences with crime and violence, and so forth.
Regnerus and his colleagues in the New Family Structures Study (NFSS), working with the research firm Knowledge Networks, screened more than 15,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 39, and interviewed nearly 3,000 of them. The subjects’ family experiences were sorted into eight categories, ranging from the intact biological family (with the subject’s parents still together at the time of interview), across various family structures involving divorce, remarriage, adoption, and single-parenting, with two categories for subjects raised by mothers or fathers who had same-sex romantic relationships during their childhood.
The results were dismal for the “no differences” thesis: on 25 out of 40 outcomes variables, the children of mothers who had had lesbian relationships fared poorly compared to the children of intact biological families. And on 11 of the 40 outcomes, the children of fathers who had had gay relationships fared poorly on the same comparison. (For a summary of the study’s findings, see Ana Samuel’s Public Discourse article, “The Kids Aren’t All Right,” and this link here.)
Regnerus was cautious in his conclusions: he didn’t label poor outcomes as effects of parents’ sexuality, and noted that “a variety of forces uniquely problematic for child development in lesbian and gay families” could account for the phenomena. But, he concluded, “the empirical claim that no notable differences exist must go.”
The high quality of the New Family Structures Study’s research design, data collection, and findings, and the firmness of Regnerus’s conclusion that the “consensus” in sociology was exploded, only seem to have encouraged interested parties, in the academy and outside it, to attempt to debunk the NFSS. UCLA demographer Gary Gates assembled about 200 scholars to denounce Regnerus’s article, but to little substantive effect.
In the public arena, Regnerus saw his research crudely hashed over at The New Yorker, The New Republic, and the Huffington Post, among other places—and found himself caricatured as strapped to a Catherine wheel on the cover of the Weekly Standard. These are not normal experiences for your average stay-at-home sociology professor.
Clearly Regnerus’s political adversaries saw much at stake in the public reception of his research. (For the legal stakes, see my Public Discourse essay, “Supreme Court Take Notice: Two Sociologists Shift the Ground of the Marriage Debate.”)
The two main criticisms of Regnerus’s article, repeated in numerous variations, are these. First, he had used the abbreviations “LM” (for “lesbian mother”) and “GF” (for “gay father”) to describe subjects who knew that their mother or father had a romantic same-sex relationship of any length before the subject turned 18.
The use of “LM” and “GF” was culpably misleading, critics claimed, because the category might include persons who never “identified” as lesbian or gay, and might only have had a “one-night stand” with a same-sex partner.
The second criticism, closely related, was that in comparing these young people raised in “LM” and “GF” households, so defined, with those raised in “IBF” households—married heterosexual couples raising their own biological offspring and staying together throughout the subjects’ lives (even beyond their childhood, to the present)—Regnerus was comparing apples to oranges.
In their view, he should have compared children of IBF households with children of long-term, intact, stable same-sex couples who identify as gay or lesbian. Then, they were sure, the differences he found would largely disappear—as they claimed was shown by the previous research Regnerus and Marks had each criticized for their small, unrepresentative samples. What he was really doing, they claimed, was setting stable family situations next to unstable ones—and so stability was the real variable at work.
To make it seem that the differences were “about” sexuality was worse than an error, critics claimed: this was culpable distortion of the social phenomena, a twisting of social science in the service of conservative ideology.
A third, more ad hominem criticism was that Regnerus received the majority of his grant funding from the Witherspoon Institute (publisher of Public Discourse), and a minority from the Bradley Foundation—both of them viewed as “conservative” institutions in their educational and philanthropic efforts.
But Regnerus declared these facts in his original article, and told his readers that neither Witherspoon nor Bradley had any role in shaping the conduct or the conclusions of his research, which he has made wholly transparent. No one has ever gainsaid this avowal on his part. For my part, I can say that Regnerus had no input on my choice to write this account of the controversy or its content.
In the less responsible precincts of the blogosphere, Regnerus was the target of vicious calumnies along the lines described above, one of which led to the opening of an official “inquiry” by the University of Texas at Austin, where he teaches, to determine whether he had committed “scientific misconduct.”
At UT, the policy in such matters is that the merest squeak from any party alleging misconduct is enough to trigger a preliminary inquiry, which in 60 days must determine whether a full-blown investigation is warranted.
The university swung into action, doing everything by the book, at no little inconvenience to Regnerus, but at the end of August the UT “research integrity officer” concluded that no plausible charge of misconduct could be substantiated. The university’s provost accepted that conclusion, and closed the matter without prejudice to Regnerus’s standing as a scholar and teacher.
Meanwhile SSR editor James Wright was under fire for publishing Regnerus’s article; for appearing to rush it to publication; and for pla
cing Marks’s article alongside it. Opting for transparency at some risk to his own reputation, Wright asked a member of SSR’s editorial board to “audit” the process that led to the publication of Regnerus’s article.
The risk was that he chose Darren E. Sherkat, a sociologist at Southern Illinois University whom Regnerus would later describe (without fear of contradiction) as someone “who has long harbored negative sentiment about me.” Sherkat, speaking out of school, confidently told a writer for the Chronicle of Higher Education in July that Regnerus’s study was “bull****” when his audit was still in draft form and neither Regnerus nor Wright had written a response to it.
Sherkat’s audit and several other items of interest have now been published in the November 2012 issue of SSR, in a special 40-page section introduced by Wright. To his credit, when he sticks to the charge he was given, Sherkat finds that the journal’s editor did nothing wrong in publishing either Regnerus’s article or Marks’s.
Wright referred both papers to knowledgeable scholars of the subjects involved, who held varying views on the politics of same-sex unions, and who unanimously recommended their publication. No violations of normal procedure occurred; Sherkat says he “may well have made the same decisions” Wright did, given the reviews; and he dismisses as “ludicrous” any suggestion that the editor was up to anything political.
To his discredit, Sherkat, a sociologist of religion who does not appear to have done any research on family and sexuality issues (but for a single article studying how religion and political affiliation affect views of same-sex marriage), nonetheless appoints himself a final referee of the merits of Regnerus’s research—not a function he was asked to perform—and opines that it should not have been published.
James Wright, correctly, takes Sherkat’s conclusions as an auditor as vindication of his editorial performance, and rightly discounts his colleague’s attempt to set himself up as a post hoc referee with a veto over publishing Regnerus’s scholarship. If he sent the work to knowledgeable reviewers who unanimously said to publish it (and Wright notes that such unanimity is unusual), that seems to be the end of the affair.
But it isn’t. In the latest issue Wright chose to publish two significant new contributions to the discussion begun in June. The real issues with Sherkat and other critics are joined by Regnerus, who returns to the pages of SSR with a vigorous response and a re-analysis of his data, and by Professor Walter Schumm of Kansas State, who contributes an expert review of what we know from social science today about the interwoven variables of sexuality, family stability, and childrearing outcomes.
I’ll say more on these contributions in tomorrow’s essay.
Matthew J. Franck is the Director of the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey, and Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Radford University. Reprinted with permission from The Public Discourse.
[19 Nov 12, Matthew J. Franck, ThePublicDiscourse, http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/mark-regnerus-and-the-storm-over-his-controversial-gay-parenting-studd?utm_source=LifeSiteNews.com+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=1b1fa4fe3a-LifeSiteNews_com_US_Headlines_11_16_2012&utm_medium=email ]
Part II: The vindication of Mark Regnerus
Yesterday on Public Discourse, I described the controversy that followed the publication of the New Family Structures Study (NFSS), led by University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus. During a summer of unusual abuse, Regnerus remained largely silent but with his head unbowed. As autumn arrived, he found himself vindicated as an honest scientist by his university, with continued support from the journal editor who published his research.
In the November 2012 issue of Social Science Research, Regnerus has published a new article: “Parental same-sex relationships, family instability, and subsequent life outcomes for adult children: Answering critics of the new family structures study with additional analyses.” He accepts “arguably the most reasonable criticism” of his original work, the use of the abbreviations “LM” (for lesbian mother) and “GF” (for gay father) to characterize the family situations experienced by his young adult subjects when they were children.
Since the adjectives “lesbian” and “gay” could lead readers to infer something about these parents’ self-identified “orientation” (though in his original article Regnerus clearly dispelled this misapprehension), he now exchanges “LM” for “MLR” (mother who had a lesbian relationship) and “GF” for “FGR” (father who had a gay relationship), so that the adjectives “lesbian” and “gay” now describe the relationships, not the persons. Regnerus also pauses to note the extreme unlikelihood that his categories swept in any “one-night stand” relationships, since the NFSS interviews asked young adults about romantic relationships they would have observed as children.
Regnerus addresses at much greater length the more serious charge that he compared apples to oranges by placing a sample of “MLR” and “FGR” families with high incidence of instability next to his “IBF” cases of intact biological families (married heterosexual couples that stay together and raise their own offspring to maturity). His critics insisted that he should compare intact, long-term stable gay and lesbian couples with his “gold standard” IBF households.
On this point, Regnerus yields no ground to his critics whatsoever, but instead only strengthens his case that family instability is not a variable to be controlled for so that it falls out of the comparison; rather it is a “pathway” down which MLR and FGR families typically travel as a social reality.
To begin with, Regnerus notes, “if stability is a key asset for households with children, then it is sensible to use intact biological families in any comparative assessment.” But could Regnerus have produced a data set with a higher number of “stably-coupled” gay or lesbian households? He doubts it.
In his original article, he reported that an initially-screened population of 15,000 young adults aged 18-39 yielded a set of 163 who said their mothers had had a same-sex relationship sometime during their childhood. (There were only 73 who said this of their fathers.)
In his new article, Regnerus has re-sorted a dozen of the FGR cases into the MLR category (since in these cases the subjects reported that both parents had had same-sex relationships). Now focusing on his 175 subjects in the MLR category, he finds that fewer than half of them (85) ever lived with both their mother and her same-sex partner during their childhood.
But that low number tapers off dramatically when subjects report the length of the couple-headed period: “31 reported living with their mother’s partner for up to 1 year only. An additional 20 reported this relationship for up to 2 years, five for 3 years, and eight for 4 years.” He later adds that “only 19 spent at least five consecutive years together, and six cases spent 10 or more consecutive years together.”
How many children were raised by two women staying together from the child’s first birthday to his or her eighteenth? Just two. And how m
any such cases were there in the FGR category—of children raised by two men together for their whole childhood? Zero. This, out of an initial population of 15,000.
I recite these numbers to make a point of my own that fairly leaps off the pages of Regnerus’s work: that family instability is the characteristic experience of those whose parents have same-sex relationships. This is what Regnerus is getting at when he says that critics who want him to treat stability as a “control variable” are actually “controlling for the pathways.” To go on an endless search for a sizable random sample of long-term, stable same-sex couples raising children is to miss the social reality in front of us, namely that they are conspicuously missing from the lives of children whose parents have same-sex relationships.
Doggedly responding to his critics, however, Regnerus divides his MLR cases into two further categories, those in which children never lived with their mother’s same-sex partner (90 cases), and those in which they did for any length of time at all (85 cases), and takes another look at his outcome variables, while also slicing his other categories thinner, of divorce, remarriage, single parenthood, adoption, etc.
Unfortunately for his critics, it makes very little difference. On multiple outcomes, the children of mothers who had lesbian relationships fared poorly, whether those mothers had a partner in the household with their children or not, and these two groups were more like each other than like the intact biological family (IBF) category. As Regnerus notes, “adult children who report a maternal same-sex relationship—regardless of whether their mother ever resided with her same-sex partner—look far more similar to adult children of other types of household than they do to those from stably-intact biological families.”
But shouldn’t Regnerus have asked the parents of his subjects about their self-identified orientation? Maybe he was actually looking at the fallout of “mixed-orientation” relationships that disintegrated, or at the parenting of people who weren’t “really” gay or lesbian. But again his critics are substituting an imagined social ideal for a messy reality.
Regnerus had good reason to ask adult children about their parents’ behavior, not their orientation: because this is what the children would be able to observe and know about, and because sexual attraction and behavior are highly fluid phenomena, despite the myth of a fixed “orientation.”
As he soberly puts it, “there appear to be plenty of failed heterosexual unions in the data,” in which many of the children of mothers who had same-sex relationships “spend their early years with their biological mother and father” before those relationships occur. Regnerus’s findings do not obscure the realities of family and sexuality in our society; they illuminate them.
And of course he was right to interview the children rather than their parents, because the former could more accurately self-report their current life conditions. Yet the children had to be adults at the time of the study, for ethical reasons that forbid this kind of research being conducted with minors and because he wanted to know the “finished product,” as it were, of their upbringing.
So, could it be that Regnerus captured a snapshot of an outdated social phenomenon, given that his study concerned adults who had been raised when same-sex couples rarely raised children (some more than 20 years ago), and did so under more trying circumstances? Would children being raised by persons in same-sex relationships today show a different pattern? “Perhaps,” he says, “but hardly certain.”
Multiple studies show that same-sex couples, particularly lesbians, divorce at higher rates where marriage is available to them, and stay together for shorter periods. If so, then again we could expect to find family instability—and the effects thereof—in the life outcomes of children.
As Regnerus concludes, “Perhaps in social reality there really are two ‘gold standards’ of family stability and context for children’s flourishing—a heterosexual stably-coupled household and the same among gay/lesbian households—but no population-based sample analysis is yet able to consistently confirm wide evidence of the latter.”
What we can say at this point is that “the probability-based evidence that exists . . . suggests that the biologically-intact two-parent household remains an optimal setting for the long-term flourishing of children.” There is no other type of household of which that can be confidently said.
Further strengthening the case Regnerus has so ably made is a remarkably comprehensive review of what social science knows about the intersection of sexuality, family structure, and childrearing effects, by Professor Walter Schumm of Kansas State University, in the same issue of Social Science Research.
According to Schumm, we know that it makes more sense to regard “the concept of sexual orientation as ‘fluid’ rather than fixed at birth.” And it appears that sexual orientation is subject in the case of children to profound influence depending on family structure.
As Schumm notes, a number of studies “concur in observing significantly higher rates of same-sex behavior or identity among children of same-sex versus heterosexual parents.” (This finding was also evident in the NFSS results reported by Regnerus.) We know from other studies besides the NFSS that long-term stable lesbian and gay couples raising children are extremely rare, or at least that finding them is so difficult that statistical analyses are problematic.
We know that “many children from eventual gay or lesbian families have been born into heterosexual families.” We have reason to believe that “lesbian parents . . . have substantially higher rates of relationship instability than do heterosexual parents,” and that “given the apparent fluidity of sexual orientation in general, but especially for women, it may even be rare for parents to maintain a same-sex orientation for 18 years, much less remaining with the same partner for that time.”
We know that “multiple primary caregiver transitions, presumably regardless of the sexual orientation of parents, are stressful for children and increase the risk of poor child outcomes.” Is it any wonder, then, that the New Family Structures Study yielded the results it did?
Overall, Schumm concludes, Regnerus conducted eminently defensible scientific research, making decisions about research design and analysis “within the ball park of what other credible and distinguished researchers have been doing within the past decade.”
We should conclude that where accusations of an ideological axe to grind are concerned, they should not be directed at Regnerus, but at his critics in the academy and his self-appointed inquisitors in the blogosphere. With the latest issue of Social Science Research, Regnerus can consider himself fully vindicated as a scholar.
The controversy over same-sex marriage, and over the place of social science findings in debating the question, will doubtless continue. But Regnerus’s contribution has complicated a set of breezy assumptions too widely held: that children raised in these new family structures suffer no disadvantages whatsoever, and that stable, long-term same-sex-parent families can even be found in significant numbers. In so doing, Regnerus has moved our national conversation on the family forwar
d, in a positive direction, with greater awareness of what is at stake in the public policy choices we make.
[Matthew J. Franck is the Director of the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey, and Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Radford University.
20 Nov 12, Matthew J. Franck, thePublicDiscourse.com http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/the-vindication-of-mark-regnerus?utm_source=LifeSiteNews.com+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=70b7b7d2e2-LifeSiteNews_com_US_Headlines_11_20_2012&utm_medium=email] ]