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University of Texas investigates associate professor’s study on children with gay parents

Friday, July 13, 2012
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AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas-Austin announced it is investigating a gay parenting study published last month that touched off a firestorm of criticism by LGBT advocacy groups, and a formal complaint by New York-based freelance writer Scott Rosensweig.

The study, authored by associate professor of sociology Mark Regnerus, claimed that that adults with gay parents tended to report lower levels of success in economic and romantic pursuits and struggled more with mental health issues.

Rosensweig, who writes under the byline Scott Rose for the LGBT blog The New Civil Rights Movement, sent a letter of complaint to University of Texas President Bill Powers on June 21.

According to a report in the Austin American-Statesman, in his letter, Rosensweig alleged that Regnerus committed scientific misconduct because he had created “a study designed so as to be guaranteed to make gay people look bad, through means plainly fraudulent and defamatory.”

Rose pointed out that the study was funded by the conservative Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation, writing that Regnerus had taken “money from an anti-gay political organization for his study.”

Regnerus, who declined to comment on the inquiry, said his study followed the standard protocol of scholarly research.

“Normal procedures were followed for obtaining outside support, as many researchers do,” he wrote.

“Regnerus’s claims that he used the best available population sampling method for his study are false,” wrote Rose.

“One of the most troubling factors of his willingness to make stuff up about gay parents, and hope for the best for himself, is that, those portions of his study funding, so far to be revealed to the public came from The Witherspoon Institute, where Robert P. George, mastermind of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is a Senior Fellow, and The Bradley Foundation, where Robert George is a Board member.

“Robert George and NOM are notorious for making stuff up about — and that is to say — telling negative lies about — gay people.”

Rose also reported that more than 200 Ph.D.s and M.D.s and professionals in sociology, psychiatry and other relevant fields have sent a “bombshell letter” to James Wright, editor of “Social Science Research,” the journal where Regnerus’s study was published with a companion piece by the known anti-gay bigot Loren Marks, challenging the Scholarly Merit Of Regnerus Study

Gary Susswein, speaking on behalf of the university, told the American-Statesman that a panel of UT professors is conducting the inquiry, and the process will be completed within 60 days of the complaint.

Should the university’s investigation find that Regnerus’ work constitutes scientific misconduct, University Provost Steven Leslie would decide how the administration will proceed, Susswein added.

The University of Texas defines scientific misconduct as “fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism” and “practices that seriously deviate from ethical standards.”

Among Regnerus’ study’s critics is UT sociology professor Debra Umberson, who called Regnerus’ study “bad science.”

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