The Washington Times is reporting that the studies, conducted by Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas in Austin, use what sociologists call a "gold standard" data set to arrive a conclusions that question the prevailing opinion that children raised by homosexual parents do just as well as those who are raised by a traditional married couple.
“The empirical claim that no notable differences exist must go,” Regnerus says in his study published in the July issue of Social Science Research.
Rather than relying on small self-selected samples as many prior studies have done, Regnerus used a data set of nearly 3,000 randomly selected American young adults in his research. Of the 2,988 people ages 18 to 39 who were studied, 175 adults were raised by lesbian mothers and 73 were raised by gay fathers. He greatly expanded the narrow approach taken by earlier studies which focused mainly on children's gender-role behavior and sexual identity and analyzed 40 measures of social, emotional and relationship outcomes.
The results were startling.
Compared to adults raised in married, mother-father families, adults raised by lesbian mothers had negative outcomes in 24 of 40 categories. Adults raised by gay fathers had negative outcomes in 19 categories.
For instance, adults raised by lesbian parents were much more likely than adults raised by married heterosexual couples to be unemployed, to be in therapy, to have been coerced to have sex against their will, to have been touched sexually by a parent or other adult, to have had a sexually transmitted disease, and to have thought recently about suicide.
Regnerus, who helped develop the New Family Structures Study at the University of Texas, said the findings contradict claims that there's no difference between gay parenting and that of heterosexuals.
"[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.
A second study, also published in Social Science Research, looks at the oft-cited American Psychological Association (APA) report on gay parenting which found that "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 upon which the APA based this conclusion, Loren Marks, an associate professor at the School of Human Ecology at Louisiana State University says "the jury is still out." He goes on to cite the "lack of high-quality data" which leaves the most significant questions about gay parenting unaddressed and unanswered.
Some of the problems with the APA-cited studies are their small sample size and their dependence on wealthy, white, well-educated lesbian mothers. They also failed to examine common outcomes for children such as their education, employment, risks for poverty, criminality, early childbearing substance abuse and suicide.
Mr. Regnerus says his work is not attempting to undermine or affirm arguments about gay rights, but is meant to raise the bar for research on gay parenting which tends to be heavily biased in favor of gay marriage.
In general, Regnerus said the study’s findings “are consistent with a large body of research that suggests that children are most likely to thrive when they are raised by their own married parents. Such families provide a biological link between parents and children, and unparalleled levels of stability, both of which have a long reach in the benefits they afford to children.”
The new studies are receiving critical acclaim from experts such as Patrick F. Fagan, a family and marriage scholar at the Family Research Council.
The Regnerus study is the "gold standard," Mr. Fagan told the Times. If "you can't draw conclusions from it [about causality], there's not a snowball's chance in hell you can draw conclusions from those other [gay parenting] studies."
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