Texas Prof Still Supports His Flawed Gay Parenting Study
A University of Texas sociology professor who is behind a controversial study about gay parenting admitted to an anti-gay organization that his findings are flawed, the Dallas Voice reports.
Since Mark Regnerus published the "New Family Structures Study" in August, LGBT groups criticized the professor’s claims that children of gay couples are worse off than kids raised by heterosexual couples. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the Family Equality Council and the Human Rights Campaign called the study "flawed, misleading, and scientifically unsound," EDGE reported.
But now it looks as though Regnerus himself is agreeing with those who opposed the research. He told Focus on the Family’s Citizen magazine that he would be more careful about the language he used in his findings in the future.
"I said ’lesbian mothers’ and ’gay fathers,’ when in fact, I don’t know about their sexual orientation; I do know about their same-sex relationship behavior." he said. "But as far as the findings themselves, I stand behind them."
The study surveyed about 3,000 18- to-39 year olds who were mostly raised by straight parents. But 175 individuals said they had mothers who once had a same-sex relationship and 73 said their fathers were involved with someone of the same sex. The results claim that children from these parents are more likely to end up on welfare, be unemployed, and attend therapy as adults when compared to children from straight couples.
The Dallas Voice reports that Regnerus, who is a social conservative, said he didn’t use children from stable same-sex couples because, "they just were not that common in the nationally representative population." He said he was only able to find two lesbian couples that had been together for 18 years.
The article also notes that, according to Census figures, more than 6,8000 same-sex couples are raising children in Texas’ three largest metropolitan areas. But the professor said it was like "looking for a needle in a haystack."
"I got taken to task for leaning on young adults’ assessments of their parents’ relationships," Regnerus said. "I didn’t ask them whether they thought their mom was a lesbian or if their dad was gay, because, in part, self-identity is a different kind of thing than behavior, and lot of people weren’t ’out’ in that era," he said. "I think we can all think of moms and dads when we were growing up that we either knew or suspected were gay or lesbian, but never ’came out of the closet,’ so to speak."
When the study, which was funded by the Witherspoon Institute, an organization that is connected to the National Organization for Marriage, was making headlines, some of Regnerus’ own peers came forward and slammed his research, EDGE points out.
"Regnerus’ study is bad science. Among other errors, he made egregious yet strategic decisions in selecting particular groups for comparison," Debra Umberson, a sociology professor at the University of Texas, and three colleagues wrote in the Huffington Post.
Regnerus himself admits that part of his study is misquoted.
"I take pains in the study to say this is not about saying gay or lesbian parents are inherently bad," Regnerus told Citizen. "It is not a study about parenting or parenthood or parenting practices. I didn’t measure parenting practices."
When the University of Texas conducted an internal academic investigation of his research, faculty members concluded that Regnerus did not commit scientific misconduct when creating the study, EDGE reported in September.
"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," University of Texas officials said in a statement.