LGBT Advocates Blast New Report Questioning How Children Of Gay Parents Fare

A new study conducted by a University of Texas professor has social conservatives and LGBT groups in a tizzy over its claim that children raised by same-sex parents do worse than those from heterosexual families.

In The New Family Structure Study—the results of which are published in July 2012 issue of Social Science Research—researcher Mark Regnerus asked 3,000 adults ages 18-39 (including 248 with parents in a gay relationship) questions about their income levels, mental and physical health, romantic relationships and other markers.

Regnerus found that kids by their biological parents in an intact heterosexual household showed better long-term outcomes than those from other family structures, including LGBT households, single parent homes and people raised by adopted parents.

Leaders from GLAAD, HRC, Family Equality Council and other LGBT groups are quick to point out Regnerus is known for his “ultra-conservative ideology” and that the study was funded by the Witherspoon Institute. The conservative think tank—which rails against abortion, Islam and stem-sell research—has ties to the anti-gay Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage (not to mention that spooky Catholic cult Opus Dei).

“Flawed methodology and misleading conclusions all driven by a right-wing ideology,” says Family Equality Council’s Jennifer Chrisler. “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.”

“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 Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson.

Of course the right has jumped on the reports as proof that all the other studies showing gays and lesbians are just as good at parenting are “junk science.” The National Review‘s Ed Whelan writes that the results “expose and challenge the schlock social science on gay parenting that has been uncritically embraced and propagated by so many people eager to advance the cause of gay marriage.”

Oh yeah, because your schlock science is sooo much better. Of course, The New York Times raises an interesting point:

Because it focuses on adult outcomes, Regnerus’ study is necessarily a look backward. No matter where they lived or how they were treated by their peers, many of his subjects came of age when homosexuality was still marginalized and despised and gay marriage barely on the radar screen.

The majority were born to male-female couples in which one partner later came out as gay (adding an extra layer of complexity and heartbreak), rather than being planned via adoption, sperm donation or in vitro fertilization. Almost none were raised in a single same-sex household for their entire childhood.

Today the models of gay parenting have presumably shifted, the stability of gay households has presumably increased, and the outcomes for children may be shifting as well.

So the reason why children of gays and lesbians seem to do worse as adults is because our entire society has been hammering away at them for the past 20 years.

Yeah, we can see that.

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  • iDavid

    The major flaw to this study is they compared apples to oranges I.e. str8 kids from solid heterosexual families with gay kids from mixed marriages. They did not compare heterosexual households / kids to homosexual households raising kids. They compared solid het families to one parent gay fathers or mothers, married but one gay spouse etc, but nothing apples for apples. The study is fully dismissable for any logical conclusions about heteros vs homo children raised in their equal and respective conditions. Regardless, drama around inaccurate junk science will still abound of which we again, have to call foul.

  • iDavid

    “The study is fully dismissable for any logical conclusions about heteros vs. homo children raised in their equal and respective conditions”.

    Correction, Should read….

    The study is fully dismissable for any logical conclusions about hetero vs. homo parents raising children in their equal and respective conditions. This did not get covered in this research.

  • robert in nyc

    Regnerus is a right wing “christian” activist. Is it any wonder his study is biased and one-sided to favor the right wing agenda. It’s a flawed study to promote discrimination against LGBT people and derail the entire equal marriage and equality debate. Junk that NOM and the Family Research Council thrive on. Anytime you see a study quoting “family” and resarch” frequently tells you who is providing the funding for junk science.

  • Global Traveler

    I have a BS in mathematics and computer science. We used to say that you could prove or disprove anything using either the bible or statistics. This study is so flawed on so many levels.

  • PTBoat

    Oh, Queerty, I wish you could report these stories like a gay oriented mag, rather than any other outlet that leans slightly to the anti-gay right. The study is written by a man known for his extreme right wing views and is based upon data in which stable, same sex households are a tiny portion of the study. It equates households in which heterosexual parents who had same sex affairs with stable same sex households. This is a Cameronesque study and it would behoove anyone who is at all involved with the gay community to know the details, because they are going to have to sometime deal with this. The “study” is full of directly biased flaws and is not just being “blasted” by LGBT advocates.

  • Str8Grandmother

    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-

    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.

  • Charli

    I live right down the corner, maybe I should go introduce my kids without
    telling the bigot first , then say”Oh thank you , they were raised by 2 goodlooking gals!

  • Str8Grandmother

    @Charli: I would SO LOVE IT if you would do that! Make sure and dress the kids up extra cute :)

  • iDavid


    PS. Additional to my above statement, I believe the same results in this study would have occurred w/o gays being involved. It’s basically a study about kids from quasi broken vs. non broken homes. The gay part would most likely prove out as inconsequential. I’m sure str8 studies of this type have been conducted and it would be interesting to see a comparison.

  • Professor Locs

    Homosexuality is just beginning to emerge as more and more people are coming out of the closet. Sharing your life and love with a child is the same whether you’re gay or not. I agree that gay people have many more obstacles to overcome but I believe that made me more stronger, compassionate and loving.

  • tjr101

    Is anything that comes out of Texas creditable these days? The education system in Texas is a right-wing bigot’s dream.

  • jj

    I have literally had a conversation with someone on a plane who said that these african and indian babies that gays and lesbians adopt would be better off living in an orphanage in a 3rd world country than with a loving same sex couple. Sometimes i just want to leave this planet…

  • Charli

    Exit this way hunny.. Right this way: Muah, we will miss you :-)

  • B

    Re No. 1 · iDavid “The major flaw to this study is they compared apples to oranges I.e. str8 kids from solid heterosexual families with gay kids from mixed marriages.”

    Think you misspoke – they compared kids from solid heterosexual families with kids from families in which there was a gay or lesbian parent with a same-sex partner, regardless of whether the biological(?) parents were separated or not.

    His GF (Gay Father) category includes respondents who stayed with their mothers while the gay fathers split and lived with their boyfriends, so the kid was raised in a single-parent household. It includes other cases as well.

    Both his GF and LM (Lesbian Mother) cases had an elevated level of the families needing welfare subsidies to get by, so he isn’t even comparing families with comparable incomes.

  • Scott Rose

    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:

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