Flawed Paper Claims To Overturn 30 Years of Credible Research That Shows Gay And Lesbian Parents Are Good Parents

This is a little complicated to explain because it involves statistical methodology, so I am going to publish a press release jointly issued by leading LGBTQ organizations to explain how and why this “research” should not fool anyone.

Angela Dallara |  646-430-3925 | Angela@freedomtomarry.org
Aaron McQuade | 646- 871-8026 | McQuade@glaad.org
Conservative Author Behind New Paper Marked by Poor Methodology, Faulty Conclusions
Washington, DC – A flawed, misleading, and scientifically unsound paper that seeks to disparage lesbian and gay parents was roundly criticized today by organizations that protect and advance the freedoms and equality of Americans who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT).
The paper, “New Family Structures Study,” written by right-wing author Mark Regnerus (of the Department of Sociology and Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin) and funded in large part by the anti-gay Witherspoon Institute, makes a number of claims about negative outcomes for children raised by gay and lesbian parents.  However, for the most part, the paper doesn’t even look at same-sex couples raising a child together in a long-term committed relationship.
The Family Equality Council, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Freedom to Marry, and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation (GLAAD) pointed out that numerous flaws and a biased agenda undermine the claims made by the paper.
“Flawed methodology and misleading conclusions all driven by a right-wing ideology,” said Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director of the Family Equality Council. “That alone should raise doubts about the credibility of this author’s work. But on top of that, his paper doesn’t even measure what it claims to be measuring.”
“Because of the serious flaws, this so-called study doesn’t match 30 years of scientific research that shows overwhelmingly that children raised by parents who are LGBT do equally as well as their counterparts raised by heterosexual parents,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. 
Griffin and Chrisler added that those conclusions are backed up by every major child welfare organization—whose sole objective is to ensure child welfare– along with the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Association of Social Workers, who all confirm that LGBT parents make good parents.
Chrisler also said that these 30 years of research are grounded in the day-to-day reality witnessed by millions of Americans.
“Everyday people in this country see real-life examples of the love, commitment and caring these parents provide to their children, said Chrisler. “These parents are raising their children to be kind to their friends and neighbors, support their communities and uphold American values.  One biased paper cannot undo the truth nor demean the value of these families.”
Regnerus is well known for his ultra-conservative ideology and the paper was funded by the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation – two groups commonly known for their support of conservative causes. The Witherspoon Institute also has ties to the Family Research Council, the National Organization for Marriage, and ultra-conservative Catholic groups like Opus Dei.
Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson said it is these anti-gay groups and their dangerous ideologies that, in fact, create some of the biggest legal, social, and economic challenges that LGBT families do face.
“The two million kids being raised by 1 million gay parents in this country are doing great, and would do even better if their parents didn’t have to deal with legal discrimination such as the denial of the freedom to marry, and ongoing attacks such as this kind of pseudo-scientific misinformation and the disinformation agenda that’s funding it,” said Wolfson. 
GLAAD President Herndon Graddick added, “A growing majority of Americans today already realize the harms this kind of junk science inflicts on loving families. If the media decides that this paper is worth covering, journalists have a responsibility to inform their audiences about the serious and glaring flaws in its methodology, and about the biased views of its author and funders.”
Key problems with the “New Family Structures Study” include: 

•      The paper is fundamentally flawed and intentionally misleading. It doesn’t even measure what it claims to be measuring. Most of the children examined in the paper were not being raised by parents in a committed same-sex relationship—whereas the other children in the study were being raised in two-parent homes with straight parents.


  • Given its fundamental flaws and ideological agenda, it’s not surprising that the paper doesn’t match the 30 years of solid scientific research on gay and lesbian parents and families. That research has been reviewed by child welfare organizations like the Child Welfare League of America, the National Adoption Center, the National Association of Social Workers and others whose only priority is the health and welfare of children and that research has led them to strongly support adoption by lesbian and gay parents.


•       In addition, the paper’s flaws highlight the disconnect between its claims about gay parents and the lived experiences of 2 million children in this country being raised by LGBT parents.  Americans know that their LGBT friends, family members and neighbors are wonderful parents and are providing loving and happy homes to children.


•       The paper fails to consider the impact of family arrangement or family transitions on children, invalidating any attempt on its part to assess the impact of sexual orientation on parenting.  The paper inappropriately compares children raised by two heterosexual parents for 18 years with children who experience family transitions – like foster care – or who live with single or divorced parents, or in blended families. Moreover, the limited number of respondents arbitrarily classified as having a gay or lesbian parent are combined regardless of their experiences of family instability. 



I’d like to highlight the fact that the funder of the research is a very conservative organization with ties to leading hate groups. That’s always a red flag about agendas.

Then there’s the fact that his sample size of same sex families is far too small to be statistically significant. The author of the study says he couldn’t find enough families to participate. So oh well?

Then there’s this intriguing little quote

 [H]e acknowledges there’s a “subtext” to his work: the belief that “the project of profound, radical expressive individualism […] is a poor one for human flourishing.”

We are all constrained by social phenomena, he said, and that’s not a bad thing — “constraints can produce much good in our lives, whether we like the constraints or not. Liberty run amok can create extraordinary personal disaster.”

That’s like the party line for those who want to legislate morality – their flavor, of course. Too much liberty! That’s what is wrong with America, by golly.  So let’s use poor academic efforts to bolster our attempts to control families that don’t look like ours.

The real issue is that this IS about LGBT families and “gay sex” (of course) and not about scholarship or the welfare of children or anything like that.  As Jennifer Chrisler says above, all of the major child welfare organizations have found that LGBT parents are no worse or better than any other family.

The right-wing still clings to this mythology that children will be harmed by exposure to anything queer so they do two things – try to portray LGBTQ adults as dangerous and create false links between bad things and “homosexuality” a la the meme that child predators are mostly gay.

I sometimes truly think that they believe if we don’t have children of our own, the whole gay thing will die out. So they build a metaphorical electric fence with words, Bibles and laws generated by their fear of us and their innate need to control all of our decisions – including yours.




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