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Advocacy groups decry study that suggests negative outcomes for kids of gay parents

Monday, June 11, 2012
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WASHINGTON — Leading LGBT advocacy organizations on Monday widely criticized a study released by right-wing conservative author Mark Regnerus of the Department of Sociology and Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, that made several claims of negative outcomes for children raised by gay and lesbian parents.

Mark Regnerus

The paper, “New Family Structures Study,” was funded in large part by the anti-gay Witherspoon Institute.

The Family Equality Council, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Freedom to Marry, and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation (GLAAD) quickly pointed out that numerous flaws and a biased agenda undermine the claims made by the paper, and that, for the most part, the paper doesn’t address the subject of same-sex couples raising a child together in a long-term committed relationship.

Among the study’s findings:

  • 69 percent of adults with lesbian mothers and 57 percent with gay fathers reported receiving welfare while growing up. Seventeen percent of those raised by their biological parents who were married did.
  • 38 percent of adults with lesbian mothers and 23 percent with gay fathers reported they are on welfare. Ten percent of those raised by their biological parents are.
  • 19 percent with gay or lesbian parents reported having recent psychological therapy. Eight percent of those raised by married biological parents did.

“The people we studied reflected differently about their own life today and their life in the past. For those with a parent who had a same-sex relationship, those outcomes were decidedly different things, often worse,” said Regnerus, who stressed that his findings were not influenced by politics.

But Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director of the Family Equality Council, said the study was based on “flawed methodology and misleading conclusions, all driven by a right-wing ideology.”

“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,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.

Griffin and Chrisler added that those conclusions are backed up by every major child welfare organization — whose sole objective is to ensure child welfare — along with the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Association of Social Workers, who all confirm that LGBT parents make good parents.

Chrisler also said that these 30 years of research are grounded in the day-to-day reality witnessed by millions of Americans.

“Everyday people in this country see real-life examples of the love, commitment and caring these parents provide to their children, said Chrisler. “These parents are raising their children to be kind to their friends and neighbors, support their communities and uphold American values. One biased paper cannot undo the truth nor demean the value of these families.”

Regnerus is well known for his ultra-conservative ideology and the paper was funded by the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation — two groups commonly known for their support of conservative causes. The Witherspoon Institute also has ties to the Family Research Council, the National Organization for Marriage, and ultra-conservative Catholic groups like Opus Dei.

Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson said it is these anti-gay groups and their dangerous ideologies that, in fact, create some of the biggest legal, social, and economic challenges that LGBT families do face.

“The two million kids being raised by 1 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,” said Wolfson.

GLAAD President Herndon Graddick added, “A growing majority of Americans today already realize the harms this kind of junk science inflicts on loving families. If the media decides that this paper is worth covering, journalists have a responsibility to inform their audiences about the serious and glaring flaws in its methodology, and about the biased views of its author and funders.”

The advocacy groups cited key problems with the study, notably that 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.

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