LGBT groups in the U.S. have slammed a study claiming that children of gay parents are more likely to have problems compared to those from straight families.
The research, led by Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology at The University of Texas at Austin, concluded that children of lesbian mothers “reported significantly lower levels of income, poorer mental and physical health, and poorer relationship quality with a current partner” compared to children who spent their entire childhood with both of their married, biological parents.
The research, titled New Family Structures Study, is said to be the first large-scale, population-based survey of young adults that features a large number of cases in which survey respondents’ parents had been in same-sex relationships.
However, a number of LGBT groups, including The Family Equality Council, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Freedom to Marry, and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation (GLAAD) responded to the research by describing it as “flawed, misleading, and scientifically unsound”.
They also noted that Regnerus is “known for his ultra-conservative ideology” and that the paper was funded by the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation – two groups commonly known for their support of conservative causes and with connections to anti-marriage equality groups.
Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson stated it is “these anti-gay groups and their dangerous ideologies” that create some of the biggest legal, social, and economic challenges that LGBT families do face.
Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin added: “Because of the serious flaws, this so-called study doesn’t match 30 years of scientific research that shows overwhelmingly that children raised by parents who are LGBT do equally as well as their counterparts raised by heterosexual parents.”
The groups noted that every major child welfare organisation, including the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Association of Social Workers agree that LGBT parents make good parents.
The organisations pointed out a number of problems with the study. Significantly, they noted that its comparisons are flawed: While most of the children of lesbian parents examined in the paper were not raised by parents in a committed same-sex relationship, the children of straight parents in the study were raised in two-parent homes.
Regnerus himself has admitted that the study covers an “earlier generation” of children of same-sex parents, many of whom witnessed a failed heterosexual union, which could account for many of their troubles.
“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.
Others at the University of Texas are also wary of linking the research results to gay parenting.
“Whether same-sex parenting causes the observed differences cannot be determined from Regnerus’ descriptive analysis,” noted Cynthia Osborne, associate professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the university.
Freedom to Marry’s Wolfson claimed that Regnerus’ study could actually do harm.
“The two million kids being raised by one 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,” she said.