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Four major LGBT groups: Flawed study seeks to disparage lesbian and gay parents

Joint news release from Family Equality Council, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Freedom to Marry, and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation (GLAAD):

Conservative Author Behind New Paper Marked by Poor Methodology, Faulty Conclusions

Washington, DC, June 11, 2012 - 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).

regnerusThe 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.

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Dr. Regenerus's Respondents were raised in a MIXED ORIENTATION MARRIAGE (MOM), or a MIXED ORIENTATION SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP. A MOM is where one spouse is gay and one spouse is straight. That is who responded to this survey people who had parents in a MOM. Regnerus confirms that he found only a few Respondents who were raised in a straight up lesbian or straight up gay home. Here is part of his e-mail to me which he asked me to post.

[snip]"By the way, one of the key methodological criticisms circulating is that–basically–in a population-based sample, I haven’t really evaluated how the adult children of stably-intact coupled self-identified lesbians have fared. Right? Right. And I’m telling you that it cannot be feasibly accomplished. It is a methodological (practical) impossibility at present, for reasons I describe: they really didn’t exist in numbers that could be amply obtained *randomly*. It may well be a flaw–limitation, I think–but it is unavoidable. We maxxed Knowledge Networks’ ability, and no firm is positioned to do better. It would have cost untold millions of dollars, and still may not generate the number of cases needed for statistical analyses.[end snip] You can read the full e-mail exchange here-
http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2012/06/11/45557

We know that only 1/3 of Mixed Orientation Marriages attempt to stay together after disclosure and of that 1/3, only half manage to stay together for 3 years or more (and it goes really down hill after 7 years).

FWIW I agree with Dr. Regnerus Mixed Orientation Marriages (or Mixed Orientation Sexual Relationships) that produce children are VERY BAD for the children. And that is what his study proves. It does not attempt and does NOT assess the outcomes of children raised by 2 loving moms or 2 loving dads. It.Does.Not.

This pic by Rob Tsinai depicts this research perfectly. I know he will let you re-post it.
http://wakingupnow.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/quit-damning5.png

If you set out with a biased intent, anyone who is familiar with statistics knows that you can easily manipulate statistics to do what you want them to do. Which is clearly what Regnerus did. It is also important to not that his research wasn't peer reviewed. Big red flag there. I had the same reaction to this article. Thanks for all of the helpful links.

"The child psychologist who thought she had all the answers to parenting until she became one herself." www.themommypsychologist.com

Mommy - Of course this article was peer reviewed. Social Science Research always has three reviewers for each article that's submitted. Let's be careful about what we say. Makes us look bad.

WHO peer reviewed Regnerus's and Marks's articles? Marks cites Regnerus's study in his own study, though they were published simultaneously. Regnerus said he didn't want to seek funding for the study from the National Institutes of Health, because he didn't think it would make it past their peer review process (though he previously has done a NIH-funded study). The journal in which the studies were simultaneously published "Social Science Review," is edited by James Wright, who has written demeaningly of gays and their relationships. The journal allows study leaders to propose candidates to "referee" their own papers. Regnerus's study funding was arranged through NOM's Robert George. Who "peer reviewed" these two papers?

Hello: Please consider signing and sharing this petition. The petition demands that the Editorial Board of the journal Social Science Research retract the notorious, invalid, defamatory, anti-gay Regnerus gay-parenting “study.” According to the journal’s own Peer Review Policy, it takes MONTHS for the editor to locate experts to carry out peer review of submissions on esoteric topics like gay parenting. But, SSR’s editor James Wright did NOT get topic experts, the BIGOTS he had do the peer review had CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, and Regnerus’s submission was accepted for publication in only 5 ½ weeks, LESS TIME than the journal usually spends just to LOCATE expert peer reviewers. Be sure to read the full petition text inside the petition at this link: http://tinyurl.com/8q7ync4

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