UT’s Gay Parenting Study Sparks Debate

A new UT study says that children of gay parents fare worse than their straight-parented counterparts, igniting a firestorm of backlash.
Thu June 14, 2012 11:51 pm
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Is there really a significant difference between the children of straight parents and those of gay ones? According to associate sociology professor Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin, yes, there is. His “New Family Structures Study,” published in the June issue of Social Science Research, found that the children of gay parents often fared worse socially, economically, and psychologically than those raised by straight parents.

Predictably, the research team’s findings and methods have unleashed a flood of criticism by LGBT-rights groups and outside experts alike and sparked heated online debate. Four major LGBT advocacy groups— GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, the Family Equality Council, and Freedom to Marry—released a joint statement condemning the study as “flawed, misleading, and scientifically unsound.”

The groups say that the study’s key problems include the fact that most of the children of gay parents included in the study were not the products of committed relationships, while the children of straight parents studied were raised in two-parent homes. The LGBT-rights groups were also alarmed that two socially conservative institutions had sponsored the studies.

The New Yorker’s Amy Davidson took issue with the study’s methodology: “The way [this study] was conducted is so breathtakingly sloppy that it is useful only as an illustration of how you can play fast and loose with statistics,” she wrote. 

In a piece published at Slate outlining his methology and defending his findings, Regnerus claims that it was his “better methods,” including his use of random sampling, that achiveved results that contradict plenty of other research from the past few decades.

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