Gay Parenting Makes Children 'Fared Worse' In Adulthood? Controversial Study Says
By - Crossmap On June 13, 2012
Controversial study suggests gay parenting has negative effect on children in adulthood
A study conducted at the University of Texas at Austin has attracted great controversy for suggesting that children raised in same-sex couple households grow up to be "fared worse" as adults than children who were raised in a heterosexual pair household.
The study was funded by the New Family Structures and was lead by Mark Regnerus, associate professor of sociology at UT. He sought to answer the question: "How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships?"
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"At the end of the study, Regnerus found that adult children who grew up with gay parents, particularly lesbian parents, fared worse socially, emotionally and in relationships than children who had married, heterosexual parents. One theme in the data was instability in LGBT households," The Daily Texan reported.
LGBT groups including GLAAD, Family Equality Council, and Freedom to Marry, released a joint statement on how they believed the research was "misleading."
"The paper is fundamentally flawed and intentionally misleading," the statement read. "It doesn't even measure what it claims to be measuring. Most of the children examined in the paper were not being raised by parents in a committed same-sex relationship, whereas the other children in the study were being raised in two-parent homes with straight parents."
The study involved analyzing over 15,000 people ages 18-39, of which 248 admitted to their mother or father having had a same-sex relationship at some point in their upbringing.
Groups offended by the study also claimed that the demographic covered in this research involved adults who were young during a time in which homosexuality was not as accepted as it is today.
"I'd be interested in seeing this study redone in 20 years with the more intact same-sex families we see now," Dr. Jenna Saul, a Wisconsin-based child and adolescent psychiatrist from ABC News reported. "This study doesn't really have anything to do with same-sex families of today."
Regnerus agrees that the results may be different if children in this generation were studied. However, he adds that his intention in this particular study was not to label same-sex couples as "bad parents."
"This study may not reflect the experience of younger children growing up today in same-sex families, particularly because society has become more accepting of gay and lesbian families in the last decade," he said in a University of Texas report. "Nor does the study tell us that same-sex parents are necessarily bad parents. Rather, family forms that are associated with instability or nonbiological parents tend to pose risks for children as they age into adulthood."
Patrick F. Fagan, Senior Fellow and Director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI), was interviewed by The Christian Post on Monday when he shared his fascination regarding this study and the results.
"[The study] should get wide consideration, and the facts that it is revealing are substantive. To me, the most telling thing is how few, how minuscule the incidents of two homosexual parents raising children together are. It's 0.2 percent of the population," Fagan said.
"That is actually the biggest finding there. The other thing that is really clear is that instability seems to be the main component of gay coupling. That is one of the biggest findings that the gay community has to deal with."
Fagan continued to add that believing this same study would be more positive in 20 years is only a hope.
"I can understand their hope, but it is only hope. It has no basis in research. The analogous situation that I think one would look at, is what is happening intergenerationaly? To children of single parents?" he suggested in the interview.
In a 2002 National Longitudinal Survey (NLS) by the U.S. Department of Labor, research showed that 7.8% of children are living in poverty with married householders. Where as 38.4% of children live in poverty with female-householders.
"The scores on that are that gradually, we have some evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, that the children of broken families, where 50 years that was much more frowned on and less accepted - the stigma on single-parent families is now lifted. But the scores have not changed - if anything they continue to prop intergenerationaly," Fagan said alluding to the 2002 NLS stats.
"That is not proof, but it raises the strong hypothesis that the wishful thinking will not be fulfilled," Fagan continued.
So, what can be concluded about the research by Regnerus? Maggie Gallagher, co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage, agrees with Regnerus that the study does not suggest same-sex couples are bad parents, but that it may indicate something different.
"Does this prove that gay parents are bad parents? No, of course not. It does suggest what no one familiar with the larger family structure research should be surprised by: compared to every other family form we know that has been studied, the 'gold standard' for children remains the intact, married biological family, a mom and a dad," Gallagher said in a statement.
Regnerus' research continues to shed light on what is the most profitable family dynamic. However, The Daily Texan reports that the professor says he "is not claiming sexual orientation is at fault in these worse outcomes and does not know about any kids currently being raised by lesbian and gay parents."
"Their parents may be forging more stable relationships in an era that is more accepting and supportive of gay and lesbian couples," Regnerus wrote. "But that is not the case among the previous generation, and thus social scientists, parents and advocates would do well from here forward to avoid simply assuming the kids are all right."