New study debunks same-sex parenting claimsTuesday, June 12, 2012
“A new study published in the July 2012 edition of Social Science Research has debunked the claim that children do just as well or better in same-sex couple families as they do in married mum-dad families,” FamilyVoice Australia research officer Ros Phillips said today.
Until now, most studies in this area have used small samples with non-random volunteers, parental self-evaluation and invalid controls. But the latest study, by sociology professor Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas, has analysed data from a survey of some 3,000 randomly selected US young adults, looking at 40 different measures of social, emotional and relationship outcomes (Washington Times, 10/6/12).
Dr Regnerus used data from the New Family Structure Study (NFSS) to see how adults aged from 18 to 39 raised by same-sex parents do on various outcomes compared to those raised by married biological parents, cohabiting adults, a single parent, step-parents or adoptive parents, among others. NFSS has data from more than 3,000 adults, including 175 who said their mother had a same-sex romantic relationship and 73 who said their father did. 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.
Compared with adults raised in married mother-father families, adults raised by lesbian mothers had negative outcomes in 24 of 40 categories, while adults raised by gay fathers had negative outcomes in 19 categories.
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.
Another study in Social Science Research (July 2012) analyses the frequently cited American Psychological Association (APA) report on gay parenting. Dr Loren Marks, associate professor at Louisiana State University, challenges previous same-sex parenting studies as inadequate, biased and unreliable. He points out, for example, that “well-educated, relatively wealthy lesbian couples have been repeatedly compared to single-parent heterosexual families instead of two-parent marriage-based families”. Other methodological flaws include small sample size and a failure to examine common outcomes for children, such as their education, employment and risks for poverty, criminality, early childbearing, substance abuse and suicide. Instead, the APA studies often looked at children’s gender-role behaviours, emotional functioning and sexual identity. Dr Marks said the lack of high quality data leaves the most significant questions about gay parenting unaddressed and unanswered.
Ros Phillips has welcomed the Regnerus study, which throws new light on the current debate on same-sex “marriage”, due to begin in federal parliament soon.
“This is the best quality research to date,” she said. “It shows beyond doubt that kids do best when raised by their married mum and dad. It reinforces most Australians’ gut feeling that children need both male and female role models when growing up.
“Since the beginning of human history, marriage has always primarily been about providing the best environment for children – and it has always meant a man-woman union. For Australian kids’ sake, it should stay that way,” Mrs Phillips said.
- Family and parenthood