Gay Parents ‘Far More Likely’ to Have Gay Kids, Says Questionable Science

If sexuality is determined in the womb by genetics, is it safe to say gay parents are more likely to drown their unborn children in amniotic fluid over-saturated with gayness? In an analysis of 26 studies focusing on the children of gay parents, a new research paper from Kansas State University’s Walter Schumm finds “evidence [… that] suggests intergenerational transfer of sexual orientation can occur at statistically significant and substantial rates, especially for female parents or female children.” Isn’t that just what leading bigot Paul Cameron at the nauseously conservative Family Research Institute found?

Schumm was provoked to study the question closely after a researcher at the conservative Family Research Institute was vilified after publishing a study concluding that “parents’ sexual inclinations influence their children’s.” That study concluded that about 30 percent of the children of gay parents identified themselves as homosexual.

That is near identical to the 28 percent figure that Schumm arrived at in his meta-analysis of the 26 previously published studies. The 28 percent figure only applied to children who were over the age of 17; the figure dropped to 20 percent when children younger than 17 were included in the data.

Cameron’s study found,

Of 77 adult children of homosexual parents who volunteered for three different investigations, at least 23 (30%) were currently homosexual: twelve (55%) of 22 daughters and three (21%) of fourteen sons of lesbians; five (29%) of seventeen daughters and three (17%) of eighteen sons of gays; none of six sons with both a gay and a lesbian parent. At least 25 (32%) were currently heterosexual. Of the ten with transsexual parents, one of nine daughters was currently lesbian, one was currently heterosexual, and one was transsexual. The son’s sexual preference was not reported. These findings suggest that parents’ sexual inclinations influence their children’s.

You might recognize Schumm’s name: He testified during the 2008 Florida gay adoption trial that is finally — finally — on its last legs. Box Turtle Bulletin noted at the time,

Schumm is considerably more circumspect in how he uses Cameron’s research, but he did publish a 2000 article in Psychological Reports, Paul Cameron’s favorite publication outlet, defending Cameron’s research methods against Dr. Gregory Herek’s criticisms. Schumm is also listed as a member of Cameron’s “Editorial and Scientific Review Board” for the EJSSB.

In the trial, Schumm used data from his recent Psychological Reports article to claim that about 19 percent of children raised by gay parents are likely to become gay, compared with 4 percent of children with straight parents. Testifying for Frank Gill, the gay foster father, Susan D. Cochran, a professor of epidemiology and statistics at UCLA, accused Schumm of cooking his data.

(AOL News claims “Schumm’s testimony actually ended up aiding the gay parents in the trial,” having told the court, “Gay parents can be good foster parents” and “The decision to permit homosexuals to adopt is best made by the judiciary on a case by case basis.”)

Whether you think Schumm’s findings are damaging is one thing. Whether you think he’s motivated by animus is another. Says Schumm: “I’m trying to prove that it’s not 100 percent genetic.” And isn’t that quite the bias going into this. That, and his research is suspect, notes AOL:

His study is a meta-analysis of existing work. First, Schumm extrapolated data from 10 books on gay parenting; Cameron, for what it’s worth, had only looked at three, and offered no statistical analysis in his paper. Schumm skewed his data so that only self-identified gay and lesbian children would be labeled as such.

This is important because sometimes Schumm would come across a passage of children of gay parents who said they were “adamant about not declaring their sexual orientation at all.” These people would be labeled straight, even though the passage’s implication was that they were gay.

[…] In Schumm’s study, he quotes from the extant literature the stories of young women, describing how being gay was never frowned upon in their household, and so that “option” was available to them. That said, Schumm also finds evidence of gay mothers pushing their daughters, upset over a relationship with a man, to “try out women.” But couldn’t gay men also tell their sons this? Yes, but Schumm tells AOL News that most gay men have at some point been with a woman, so they understand why their sons might date them. Whereas the literature shows some lesbians “have a hatred of men that’s intense,” Schumm says.

There’s so much “science” in here, the mind boggles!

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  • Chris

    The gays will grow exponentially. Surely this will lead to mass extinction… or mass adoption.

  • Alex

    I didn’t come out until I was in college, because my parents are super religious and anti gay. It seems to make sense that queer kids in accepting homes are more likely to be open about it.


    Why do these people who seem to be so very disturbed by all things that are Gay seem to do nothing but obsess on all things that are Gay???

  • Samwise

    That Schumm is a piece of work. As soon as you mentioned him defending Paul Cameron’s research methods, I knew he had to be a ‘phobe. No unbiased social scientist could ever defend that guy’s research methods. And there’s the admission: “I’m trying to prove that it’s not 100 percent genetic.” Truthy!

    On the bright side, awww, what a cute picture!

  • Thomas

    Wow. So, 28% of the population would identify as LGBT if it weren’t for bigoted parents. Not 10% So, 18% of the pop. is on the DL. Sad.

  • Thomas

    Wow. So 28% of the population would identify as LGBT if it weren’t for bigoted parents. Not 10%. Which means 18% of the pop is on the DL? Sad.

  • Samwise

    @Thomas: I really don’t think so. Read the whole article: this guy has a clear bias.

  • the crustybastard

    “Gay children of gay parents ‘far less likely’ to be self-loathing, closeted” says blindingly obvious conclusion drawn from cursory skim of self-evident facts.

  • REBELComx

    @Samwise: I don’t know, Samwise. Thomas might have a point there. That study came out a week ago that showed 7% of men and 6% of women self identify as gay or lesbian. There has to be AT LEAST that many that are bi/transgendered or, more profoundly and more importantly, in the closet. 7% is still nothing to scoff at though. That’s 21 MILLION Americans without equal rights.
    But you are right, this guy has a clear bias and is using the poor research (HA! research, the guy basically did the equivalent of an 11th grade English paper) as a scare tactic. I’m very curious where he got these 10 books and 26 studies from, since we all know that it’s only been the last two or three years that only a handful of studies have been done that included gay and lesbian parents. And all of those showing that we make just as good, if not better parents.

  • Jimmy Fury

    “His study is a meta-analysis of existing work.”
    So he didn’t actually do any new research or ya know… a survey of gay parents and their kids?

    Yeah… that’s not a study, it’s a book report.

  • Terry Dock

    Cool, so we can actually reproduce and perpetuate our kind. That’s great: go make more!

  • Qjersey

    The irony is that this junk science is about lesbianism… and it is typically gay men who are used to stoke the fear of the ignorant. Hence the use of the word gay and NOT lesbian in their drivel.

  • Jouin

    This shouldn’t even be a question. Even if that were the case, what if.

  • Stephen Thorn

    My partner, Frederick Carter, wrote to the reporter, Paul Kix- who works for “Boston Magazine”-who wrote/published the story on Walter Schumm’s research which was posted on AOL yesterday. Frederick pointed out to Mr. Kix that he should have presented a more balanced story by publicizing the fact that Schumm is biased against gay & lesbian parents and has written anti-gay articles in the recent past. Schumm was also openly critical of Federal Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling back in August which overturned California’s Proposition 8 in both a published article and in an interview.The following are all direct and indirect quotes from Schumm which clearly demonstrate his bias against gay & lesbian parenting, as well as his opposition to same-sex marriage:

    As an example of the bad information provided to the court, it is clear that lesbian parents have far less stable same-sex relationships than do heterosexual parents, even when the lesbian parents have advantages in terms of higher education or income (Schumm, 2009).

    At the same time that heterosexual relationships inherently entertain higher risks, they also provide society with a very important product – biological children who are genetically related to both of their parents, which tends to be correlated with taking better care of children (unrelated boyfriends, for example, often abuse their girlfriend’s biological children).

    The court may not have been told about the high rates, on the order of 50 percent within three years, of extramarital affairs engaged in by gay men in civil unions or marriages (Schumm, 2009).

    If gay marriage means accepting sexual non-monogamy within marriage, we must accept an inherent change in the intrinsic meaning of marriage and ultimately the meaning of responsible parenting

    It’s easy enough to establish an apparent equality of outcomes for different types of couples, but if their inputs in terms of risks are unequal and their contributions to society in terms of jointly biological children are unequal, have you really established an equality or actually an inequality? That is why I have argued (Schumm, 2009) that making same-sex relationships socially and morally equivalent to heterosexual relationships creates an injustice rather than correcting one.

    Recently, Gartrell and Bos reported that over 56 per cent of lesbian parents had separated by the time their child was 17 years old. Based on the mothers’ reports of the children’s psychological adjustment, the adverse impact of that instability was not quite statistically significant. Comparable studies of heterosexual parents have found rates of separation ranging from 3 per cent to less than 30 percent over similar timeframes.

    When it has been considered, it is usually found that the children of single parents do worse than children of two parents. That might not sound like much but the issue is that if lesbian mothers are less likely to remain in a two-parent structure, merely comparing single lesbian parents with (heterosexual) single parents buries the adverse risks of lesbian parenting in the single-parent issue, essentially obscuring the risks to children of parental break-ups. If the scientific models predicted child outcomes from parental stability and predicted parental stability from parental sexual orientation, we might observe some important adverse indirect effects of parental sexual orientation

    Dr. Schumm: The problem of determining how parental sexual orientation might influence a child’s health or psychological adjustment is more complicated than many recognize. It is becoming increasingly clear from research that lesbian mothers tend to have less stable relationships than heterosexual mothers and fathers, an issue seldom considered by researchers.

    As yet, we have no published data on the stability of legally married LGBT parents. However, recent evidence indicates that very few GLBT individuals come together with the intention of having children and few, in fact, ever have children; if they do have a child, few spend the entire year with that child.

    Effects on Children

    Richard Redding, writing in a 2008 issue of the Duke Journal of Gender Law and Policy, concluded that gay parents were more likely to have gay children. My meta-analyses of 26 studies and ten books on GLBT parenting concur with his findings (Schumm, in press). Furthermore, my research indicates that many literature reviews have systematically excluded information about negative child outcomes associated with gay parenting — that is, greater levels of insecure attachment and drug abuse among daughters of gay fathers.

    Likewise, I have yet to see a study which has monitored outcomes such as sexualcompulsivity or general delayed gratification (also known as time preference) among children of the various types of parents. Some research that has looked at abuse of drugs or insecure attachment has found strongly adverse results for daughters of gay fathers.

    Then, and now, I presume, most of the public would deem relationship instability to be unfavorable for the welfare of children, and would want to consider the evidence that lesbian parents have much less stable relationships than do married heterosexual parents.

    August 18, 2010 ( — Judge Walker built his decision overturning Proposition 8 on many “findings of fact,” which to a great extent came from experts supplied by the opponents of Proposition 8. But according Dr. Walter Schumm, professor of Family Studies and Human Services at Kansas State University, many of these so-called facts are either false or doubtful.

    In the following interview with (LSN), Dr. Schumm explains that homosexual parents are more likely to raise homosexual children; that scholars are often biased in favor of research friendly to the homosexual agenda; and that legalizing homosexual “marriage” places an unjust burden upon heterosexual families.

    My own research has shown that articles featuring “pro-gay” outcomes are much more likely to be cited scientifically than those featuring “anti-gay”results, even if the authors, timeframe, and journals are the same. I have also found that sometimes, the worse the quality of the research in this area, the more likely it is to have been cited in major reviews of the literature.

    Professors who do research in this area have to be very careful lest they offend the wrong people because even false allegations about one’s being “homophobic” can lead to adverse professional evaluations, regardless of other professional criteria. If a journal is willing to publish adverse outcomes for GLB parenting it is at risk of being blackballed and deemed “unscientific”; thus, editors of journals must have tremendous courage to buck the current of political correctness and allow fair peer review of such research.

    In some states, like Florida, it is actually against the law to try to impeach a witness’s credibility on the basis of their religious beliefs or views. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop the lawyers on the pro-gay adoption side of the trial from attacking the credibility of witnesses on the basis of their religious views or affiliations – you might remember how harshly Dr. George Rekers, a Ph.D. clinical psychologist, was attacked for also being a Baptist minister, which appeared to discredit his views in the eyes of the court, as I interpreted the decision. My own testimony was raked over the coals because of a half-sentence from a much longer opinion paper in which I mentioned using science to highlight the truths of Scripture.

    LSN: The 76th finding of fact states that it is an entirely unsupported stereotype that homosexuals are “incapable of forming long-term intimate relationships.” The 48th states that same-sex “couples are identical to opposite-sex couples in the characteristics relevant to the ability to form successful marital unions.” What does research indicate about the fidelity within and length of typical homosexual relationships?

    Dr. Schumm: Back to the stability issue, one article recently admitted that there was one previous research report showing that lesbian mothers had less stable relationships than heterosexual parents. However, I have found several others that have yielded the same results. Nevertheless, many scholars continue to assert – for example, at the Prop 8 trial – that there are no differences whatsoever between heterosexual and nonheterosexual relationships, even in terms of stability. Researchers have also found that gay men are much more likely than heterosexual men to engage in and approve of “extra-marital” sexual affairs.

    A common response to this fact is a rebuttal that if both men approve of it, what’s wrong with it?

    What I see wrong with it is that it begins – or perhaps continues – a process whereby we have two Americas, one free and one slave. The “free” America is where you can have sex with anyone as long as its not rape. The “slave” America is where you can only have sex with someone you marry of the opposite gender and then never again with anyone else as long as the marriage endures.

    I am not sure how long, as Lincoln observed, you can have a nation endure if it remains half-free and half-slave, with such a major cultural divide. I would expect that social entropy would favor a gradual erosion of sexual values in the direction of “freedom” from marriage and gender norms. It is as if you made a national policy that half the nation would get a “free” guaranteed annual income while the other half had to earn their income and pay for the “free” income of the rest. I am not sure how long those who had to earn their income (just as some have to earn their right to sex by making a marriage commitment and by accepting the inherent conflicts involved in gender differences) would continue to put up with such a division peacefully.

    Heterosexual or mixed-gender relationships assume risks not assumed by same-sex couples, including pregnancy caused by the other person, unwanted pregnancy, or perhaps a risk of needing an abortion. There are greater costs because only heterosexual couples accept the difficulties involved in working out gender conflicts.

    Furthermore, only heterosexual couples model for children how to manage heterosexual conflict in a constructive manner within the confines of marriage. True, heterosexual couples may not model how to manage lesbian or gay conflicts, but that omission would only matter for a small minority of children of heterosexuals who grow up to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual. By contrast, same-sex couples are not modeling how to manage heterosexual conflict for a much larger percentage of children who will grow up to be heterosexuals.

    My point is that by treating unequal relationships (unequal in terms of costs and risks) as if they deserve to be equal in terms of societal benefits, the court is actually establishing a great inequality, the very opposite of what it may think it was doing.

  • Samwise

    Thank you so much for all those quotes, Stephen. I’m astonished that, considering the side he’s on, he’d compare marriage to slavery. That sounds more like something that the Bash Back! contingent would say. Maybe he’s a self-hating closet case like his buddy Paul Cameron.

  • Mark

    My partner and I raised two children, a boy and a girl. While my daughter DID experiment with a same sex partner in her late teens (much to my relief, I TOTALLY supported teen age lesbianism!! The risk of unwanted pregnancy is much reduced!)Ultimately she marrried a man and is very much aware of who she is as a sexual person. While my son never told me if he experimented with other boys (and quite frankly, I do not want to know about my children’s sex life at all!) he is currently living with his girlfriend. So no, the gaynesss did not wear off in our case. What DID wear off is an atmosphere of mutual support, understanding and love. As any parents, gay or straight will tell you, all we really want is for our children to grow up to become happy healthy people. My son is an elementary school teacher and my daughter is in graduate school and if either of them has a gay child, they will know how to raise them. That is the legacy we should all strive to create.

  • orinthe

    To call this a “study” is quite a stretch. A tiny sample of 77 people who are self-selected/volunteered (selection bias much?) and apparently for many have had their sexuality just guessed-at? The National Enquirer has better standards of scientific inquiry.

  • greenluv1322

    This, the title, is great news! I am not bothering to read the article.

  • Kenny

    Give me a break. First, this notion that parents make kids gay has always been nothing but a way to make parents feel guilt and shame, figuring they did something wrong and thereby surrender their kids to reparative therapy. Secondly, it’s nothing but the kick off to the second wave of attack. Strip them of marriage rights and now strip them of parental rights, even if it means physically removing existing children. In reality, we have made almost no progress since the days of Anita Bryant. A study found Prop 8 won because str8 parents bought into the notion that gays are a danger to their children. If the Tea Party and Republicans seize control I have no doubt we will begin to face the same dangers the Jews did in the 1930s.

    This guy’s work is based on gay parenting books many of which for literary purposes actively sought out gay parents with gay kids. His work is based on junk science but str8s won’t care. Rallying to protect kids from gays has been an effective tactic for decades and we’d better start fighting it before we find ourselves taking “showers” courtesy of the Tea Party and Republicans.

  • Michael

    Either you are Gay or you are not. Self-identification is a state of mind.

  • Nickadoo

    I think am important piece of data might be getting omitted from this research that would likely skew the numbers.

    Wouldn’t it stand to reason that gay and questioning youth might more likely be placed with gay foster parents by child protection agencies whenever possible? Particularly if they were removed from their biological parents homes because they were abused for being gay (or for not conforming to stereotypical gender roles)?

    I would think gay couples would be far more likely to foster and adopt gay children in the first place, so it would make sense for a disproportionate number of adults of gay parents to identify as gay.

  • SoylentDiva

    They cite Paul Cameron. That right there means they’re full of shit.

  • David Ehrenstein

    Dan Savage and his boyfriend Terry discovered a few years ago that their son D.J. — who they’ve raised since birth — is straight.

    Being open-minded they didn’t toss him out on the street.

  • FlopsyMopsyCT

    @Nickadoo: I was thinking the same thing. Although I’ve never known anyone who has used foster care programs, nor personally known anyone in foster care, I’d imagine there’s a great deal of discrimination that parents, whether hetero- or homosexual, can utilize when making selections about children (if I am wrong about this, someone please correct me). Thus, I don’t think it entirely surprising that there are gay and lesbian children living with gay and lesbian parents.

    I haven’t read too much about the whole “parents making their kids gay” issue. The only real experience I have had is a book (or maybe just a study, I can’t remember) where he spoke about the issue and said that there is absolutely no evidence to link parents’ rearing of their children with their sexuality, i.e. there is no evidence that a parent can “turn” their child straight or gay.

  • Jack

    Who cares. I don’t think everyone will just stop wanting children one day, and it’s not like the world isn’t already overpopulated.

  • matt

    This is a good thing… the study points back to Homosexuality being genetic….

  • jason

    So much of this research is motivated either by the “gay gene” crowd or by the “gay influence” crowd. Does it really matter? We are all a mass of genes influenced by our environments. Live and let live is what I say. So long as you’re not harming anybody or yourself, I don’t see why we need to get to the purported reasons for homosexuality.

  • eagledancer

    You don’t really need my comments as someone who teaches Human Sexuality at the University level, and has done sex research on Inter-racial Same-Sex Couples to realize the sloppy and biased “science” of this “meta-analysis.”
    A) One of the first thing I teach students—immediately look at how a study has been structured, rather than simply looking at the author’s conclusion. For example, one study declared they could only find about 1% of the U.S. population was gay or lesbian. If you looked at the structure, you found they only surveyed in the Midwest, eliminating SF, LA., NYC, or South Beach. They did random “cold calls.” This meant they picked people out of a phone book and asked, “Are you gay?” They also asked for the person’s address and social security number. My surprise was that they got as many people saying “yes” as they did. But extremists love any thing that “proves” gays and lesbians are a tiny minority, rather than up to 10% of the population.
    B) Roughly 7% is a fairly steady figure in terms of “decent” research, including what has been done at the Kinsey Institute. There are two major challenges in doing research of this type, that I’ve touched on before in other posts. One is how “gay” is defined. This is why a lot of studies refer to “self-identified Gay males” but Goddess knows a lot of members of this board would clearly label many “self-identified straight males” as hypocritical liars or self-deluding. The other challenge is how you obtain a sample. Many sex-researchers (including my own work) utilize what’s called a “snow ball” or “friendship network” approach.

    This is where, for example, after I interviewed an inter-racial same-sex couple, I would ask if they knew a couple like themselves (hence the term “friendship network”) and if they would be willing to “vouch” to their friends that I was a legitimate and respectful researcher. This is why doing random research in sexuality is problematic. Imagine if I were to call your mother out of the blue and say, “Hi, I’m a sex researcher from the Kinsey Institute. How many times a week do you masturbate?” Can you imagine how many hang-ups this approach would achieve? This is why random calls are difficult—and if you think about it, what’s the psychological profile for people who sit through and answer this sort of question from a stranger who can’t show his or her credentials over the phone? A problem with the friendship network approach is it throws off the data due to the fact you tend to have friends who are part of your social/educational status. In other words, you probably don’t hang out with Bill Gates, or with homeless people as close personal friends. That lops off specific segments of the population who don’t end up getting surveyed.
    C) When it comes to civil rights, whether or not the GBLTQ population is 1% or 10%–that isn’t the point. I’m American Indian. We’re about 1.6% of the American population. Jewish people make up about 2% of the American population. Civil rights of American Indians or Jewish people should not be compromised because they are “small” minority groups. Neither should the civil rights of the GBLTQ community.
    D) Having interviewed a number of adult children of lesbian/gay parents (and come to think of it—all the ones I’ve met were biological children, rather than adopted) I would say the major difference from those raised by straight parents I saw was a greater openness of emotional expression.

    btw-just did a post that touches on Storytelling and the recent suicides of gay and lesbian youth–

  • Mark

    Uh, hem!

    My parents are straight. All of my gay friends’ parents are straight.

    I know for a FACT that straight people create the VAST MAJORITY of gay people.

    So, you can blame ‘teh straight’ for ‘teh gay’.

  • B

    No. 10 · Jimmy Fury wrote, “‘His study is a meta-analysis of existing work.’ So he didn’t actually do any new research or ya know… a survey of gay parents and their kids? Yeah… that’s not a study, it’s a book report.”

    Aside from any failings that Walter Schumm may have, a meta analysis in general is not “a book report”. There are less than trivial issues with combining data from multiple sources as each does not necessarily measure the same thing, and each may have different biases due to the way the samples were obtained. It’s possible (particularly if one is not careful or if one wants a particular result) to select studies to combine that are biased in a particular direction. If it is done well, the term “book report” is simply not an appropriate description and the work can be a useful contribution. If it is abused, the term “great work of fiction” might be more apropos.

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