Study suggests risks from same-sex parenting

Stark gaps in ‘gold standard’ data set

By Cheryl Wetzstein

The Washington Times

Sunday, June 10, 2012

  • In this 2011 family photo, lesbian couple Giuseppina La Delfa (left) and Raphaelle Hoedts (right) celebrate the eighth birthday of their daughter, Lisa-Marie, in Naples, Italy. (Associated Press)Enlarge PhotoIn this 2011 family photo, lesbian couple Giuseppina La Delfa (left) and …more >

Two studies released Sunday may act like brakes on popular social-science assertions that gay parents are the same as — or maybe better than — married mother-father parents.

“The empirical claim that no notable differences exist must go,” University of Texas sociology professor Mark Regnerus said in his study in Social Science Research.

Using a “gold standard” data set of nearly 3,000 randomly selected American young adults, Mr. Regnerus looked at their lives on 40 measures of social, emotional and relationship outcomes.

He found that, when compared with adults raised in married, mother-father families, adults raised by lesbian mothers had negative outcomes in 24 of 40 categories, while adults raised by gay fathers had negative outcomes in 19 categories.

Findings like these contradict claims that there are no differences between gay parenting and heterosexual, married parents, said Mr. Regnerus, who helped develop the New Family Structures Study at the University of Texas.

Instead, “[C]hildren appear most apt to succeed well as adults when they spend their entire childhood with their married mother and father, and especially when the parents remain married to the present day,” he wrote.

Mr. Regnerus‘ study of 2,988 people ages 18 to 39 — including 175 adults raised by lesbian mothers and 73 adults raised by gay fathers — marks the first research from the new data set, which initially included some 15,000 people.

The second study, also in Social Science Research, takes a critical look at the basis of an oft-cited American Psychological Association report on gay parenting.

The APA brief says, “Not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents.”

After looking at the 59 studies that undergird this assertion, however, “The jury is still out,” said Loren Marks, an associate professor at the School of Human Ecology at Louisiana State University. “The lack of high-quality data leaves the most significant questions [about gay parenting] unaddressed and unanswered.”

Problems with the APA-cited studies were their small size; dependence on wealthy, white, well-educated lesbian mothers; and failure to examine common outcomes for children, such as their education, employment and risks for poverty, criminality, early childbearing, substance abuse and suicide. Instead, the APA studies often looked at children’s gender-role behaviors, emotional functioning and sexual identities.

An APA spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment. Mr. Marks‘ findings, though, have been presented in gay-marriage lawsuits on behalf of those arguing in favor of traditional marriage. Critics noted that Mr. Marks‘ paper had not been published yet and that he was not an expert on gay families.

Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Council, declined to comment on the studies, which she had not seen.

But she was confident they could not counteract “the very deep and rich body of research that has been conducted over the last 30 years” that shows children raised by gay, bisexual and transgender parents “do equally as well as their counterparts raised by heterosexual couples.”

“And I can tell you anecdotally that, given the thousands and thousands of families that I spend time with on a regular basis, [what happens in their lives] bears out and confirms everything that we see in the research, in terms of the positive outcomes for these kids,” said Ms. Chrisler, who is raising twin sons with her wife, Cheryl Jacques.

About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein

Cheryl Wetzstein

Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor. Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively …

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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  1. Curt Stoller says:

    I don’t think one can make Our Lord the prophet of the sexual revolution without doing violence to Him and His teachings. He does not endorse the pre-Christian sexual revolution of the pagan fertility religions. He does not endorse the Roman sexual revolution. He could have if He wanted to. He was not shy about saying what was on His mind. One does not find him praising the “glories” of lust as Catullus or Petronius does. Nor is He a precursor to Boccaccio or the Marquis de Sade. One does not find stories of sexual experimentation or ribald jokes and sexual double entendres in his teachings. He does not “sing the praises” of homosexuality or pederasty. He does not, like Darwin say that man is just an animal. He does not, like Freud, say that lust is great and repression is bad. He does not, like B.F. Skinner, say that man is basically a robot without freedom. He does not like many post 1960’s Hollywood movies, praise the sexual outlaw, encourage sexual exploration, experimentation, deviance and so on. One does not find him telling people: “if it feels good, do it;” or “go for it.” One does not find him asking questions like: “Did you get lucky last night?” or “have you done it yet?” or “are you still a virgin?”

    It is interesting that sexual revolutionaries are careful not to out and out attack Jesus. St. Paul is accused of being Manichean, of bringing Stoic concepts into Christianity. It is open season on the Old Testament, where everything is to be re-interpreted in the light of post-Bultmann exegesis, i.e. post Darwin, post Freud exegesis. The Roman Catholic Church is attacked openly. Few people want to come out openly and attack Jesus Himself although even this last barrier seems to be falling today.

    The general idea today is that God cannot be a God with expectations for human beings. Maybe this is why so many people are attracted to gods without expectations. God is seen as not being able to expect anything of people that would be in anyway difficult. One cannot read any of the words of Our Lord without coming away with the idea that God has expectations for his creature man; high expectations. And while it is true that God is merciful to those who flee to Him, even those who flee daily to him, hourly or minute by minute; it doesn’t seem like one can ignore the “expectations” aspect of Our Lord’s message without doing violence to Him.

    I think it is an error to think that God is “picking on” homosexuals. All followers of Jesus, without exception, are called by Jesus to very difficult challenges . . . to be perfect as Our Heavenly Father is perfect. Weakness and failure cannot justify simply ignoring this aspect of Christianity. No one likes having to bear the thought that he or she, that “we” live constantly in the face of a Divine love to which we are constantly unfaithful. But instead of running away from God, one must constantly run to God because ultimately only Jesus has the words of everlasting life.

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