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Texas College: Anti-Gay Parenting Study Checks Out

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Monday Sep 3, 2012
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Officials from the University of Texas have stated this week that a faculty member did not commit scientific misconduct when researching and creating a controversial study about gay parenting.

According to a statement by the school, the college will no longer continue its formal investigation against Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology.

"After consulting with a four-member advisory panel composed of senior university faculty members, the Office of the Vice President for Research concluded in a report on Aug. 24 that there is insufficient evidence to warrant an investigation," the statement reads.

The study, which is called "New Family Structures Study," made media headlines when it was published a few months ago. Regnerus’ research claims children of gay couples are worse off than kids raised by straight couples, EDGE reported. Gay activists and supporters were outraged by the findings and even scholars from the college criticized the associate professor’s work.

The study surveyed about 3,000 18-to-39 year olds. Most of the participants were raised by straight parents but 175 had mothers who once had a same-sex relationship and 73 had fathers who were also once with a member of the same sex. The results of the study claim that the children from these parents are more likely to end up on welfare, be unemployed, attend therapy as adults and exhibit other signs of adult dysfunction than those from heterosexual couples.

GLAAD, the Family Equality Council and the Human Rights Campaign issued a joint statement and called the study "flawed, misleading, and scientifically unsound." The organizations also noted that Renergus is known for his "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." Rosenweig also noted the same thing and that the professor had taken "money from an anti-gay political organization for his study."

But University of Texas officials didn’t look into the study until Scott Rosenweig, a freelance writer, sent a letter to the college and complained that Regnerus allegedly created "a study designed so as to be guaranteed to make gay people look bad, through means plainly fraudulent and defamatory."

Regnerus stood by his research and methods and insisted that he followed the standard guidelines for his study.

"A team consisting of leading family researchers was involved in developing the research protocol," Regnerus wrote in an email. "This academic team merged scholars across disciplines and ideological lines in a spirit of civility and reasoned inquiry, and the protocol developed by this team was subsequently approved by the University of Texas’ Institutional Review Board."

"Normal procedures were followed for obtaining outside support, as many researchers do," he added.

The university’s investigation was headed by Robert A. Peterson, who is a research integrity officer in the Office of the Vice President for Research. After discussing the issue with a four-member advisory panel of senior University of Texas faculty members, Peterson found no falsification of data, plagiarism or other serious ethical breaches consulting scientific misconduct. He said the debate of whether Regnerus’ study has serious flaws should be left to scholars, future research and an expected release by Regnerus of the research’s data.

Peterson added that, "ordinary errors, good faith differences in interpretations or judgments of data, scholarly or political disagreements, good faith personal or professional opinions, or private moral or ethical behavior or views are not misconduct."

Comments

  • Anonymous, 2012-09-03 11:57:08

    Maybe a non interested and non biased third party should have conducted the investigation. I’m an attorney and self-checks are often tainted.


  • Anonymous, 2012-09-03 15:15:29

    Notice how the study mentions mothers/fahers ONCE in a same-sex relationship. What the hell does that mean? And those unfortunate kids only end up that way because society still says it’s wrong with a lot of other things. No misconduct, but certainly a lack of data


  • Anonymous, 2012-09-03 19:06:53

    It’s typical Texass bullshit! Who in his right mind would want to live in or get a miseducation in Texass?


  • Anonymous, 2012-09-03 20:32:49

    A favorite professor told me years ago that the reason its important to go to college is not to learn anything specific, but to effectively learn HOW to learn. How to analyze and evaluate information, statements and documentation for soundness and validity. An equally important aspect in evaluation of assertions is to determine who is making the claim and what possible motivations they may have in their perspective that could sway their opinion or produce a biased outcome. I think a 5th grader could grasp these simple yet important pearls of wisdom. How on earth could a major university have so much trouble? How embarrassing.


  • Anonymous, 2012-09-03 20:34:13

    Oops, sorry...


  • Anonymous, 2012-09-03 20:53:44

    Just to point out the obvious for those who’s reading comprehension fail. The post states that methedologically he did nothing wrong. He did not falsify data, plagarize, or misquote his sources, and went through proper procedure.That’s said, were his data groups slanted, put together improperly to give expected data, etc. The chances are more than likely yes, given the body of previous data and the data likely to follow. So by all means his philosophical grounds and conclusive grounds are shakey, they just can’t pin him on doing the research improperly on its structure.


  • Anonymous, 2012-09-04 07:47:05

    I imagine he stacked the populations in his favor to get the "results" that he wanted and found a confound instead of actual results.There are other studies on gay and lesbian parents. They suggest that children of gay couples are much less likely to be abused, and just as much of not more socially competent than kids raised by straight couples on average. There were a few of those studies. These don’t match up


  • Anonymous, 2012-09-04 10:59:56

    It’s a shame you had to throw a dig in with your nice articulation. I guess that makes you dickishly intelligent. My big concern is that the schools failure to comment on his inferior methods along with their conclusion imply that they condone and stand behind his inferior methodology.


  • Anonymous, 2012-09-04 16:59:25

    The relationship between cause and effect needs to be examined. Homicide and ice cream consumption increase in the summer. Ice cream consumption does not cause homicide. The data may be real, the interpretation is not correct. There are confounding variables.


  • Richard , 2012-09-05 18:13:33

    Have folks read the paper? http://www.ionainstitute.eu/pdfs/1-s2.0-S0049089X12000610-main.pdf I don’t think I agree with his conclusions but I at least have to develop an understanding of what the man actually wrote. It was peer reviewed. We should read it and have at it as we see fit, not based on the news article but on the actual document.


  • Anonymous, 2012-09-05 18:31:37

    It’s very nice of you to make the effort and take the time to understand him. It’s more than can be said for him and his closed mind. Personally, I’m not in the high road mode these days. I’d rather spend the time having my butt hairs trimmed into the likeness of Mitt Romney.


  • Richard , 2012-09-05 21:39:41

    Here is a nice critique of the paper: http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2012/06/10/45512


  • Anonymous, 2012-09-06 23:35:33

    This is a completly humiliating situation for this university, department, and professor. Did he not get an edit before publishing his work, let alone an outside perspective of it all? The statements claimed sound ignorant and misleading. In other studies conducted across the nation, results are a complete 180 on this topic.


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