UT Professor Mark Regnerus has been under fire from scholars around the country and especially his colleagues in the UT Department of Sociology. Regnerus recently published a study that argues children are worse off if raised by parents who have had same sex relationships than if they were raised by a continuously married heterosexual couple.
From the Daily Beast:
In questionnaires filled out between 1971 and 1994, the study asked 15,000 18- to 49-year-olds if either of their parents had ever been in a same-sex relationship. Respondents who reported a parent in a same-sex relationship were sorted into GF (gay father) or LM (lesbian mother) categories and measured against other respondents’ outcomes, including those in “intact biological parent” families, in personal and social well-being. Very few of the respondents with gay parents lived in a two-gay-parent household; almost all of them came from broken homes of gay parents who had been married to a straight spouse or, more surprisingly, an opposite-sex gay spouse. Not surprisingly, since they came from families that had experienced upheaval, the children with gay parents were more likely to be unemployed, more likely to cheat on their spouse or partner, and more likely to be in psychological treatment for depression or anxiety.
In a recent Huffington Post article, UT Sociologist and Editor of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior Debra Umberson blasts Regnerus for having besmirched the university to “lend credibility to his ‘findings.'” Umberson goes into detail with her criticisms of Regnerus’s study:
The recent study by my colleague Mark Regnerus on gay parenting purports to show that young adults with a parent who ever had a same-sex relationship turn out worse than young adults with continuously married heterosexual parents (who are, in addition, biologically related to their children). He calls this latter group the “gold standard for parenting.”
But in making this claim, he has violated the “gold standard for research.” Regnerus’ study is bad science. Among other errors, he made egregious yet strategic decisions in selecting particular groups for comparison.
His definition of children raised by lesbian mothers and gay fathers is incredibly broad — anyone whose biological or adopted mother or father had a same-sex relationship that the respondent knew about by age 18. Most of these respondents did not even live with their parent’s same-sex partner; in fact, many did not even live with their gay or lesbian parent at all! Of the 175 adult children Regnerus claims were raised by “lesbian mothers,” only 40 actually lived with their mother and her same-sex partner for at least three years.
On the other hand, to be included in the “heterosexual married family” category, respondents had to have parents who were continuously married from the time of their birth to the time of the survey! Anyone whose parents had divorced between the time they left home and when they took the survey (respondents were aged 18 to 39 at the time of the survey) was not included in this so-called “gold standard.”
I’m glad to know that UT Professors are standing up to such a hateful piece of scholarship. Regnerus as The Daily Texan has pointed out, has received funding from some of the most conservative and politically biased groups in the country to produce this study. The level of bias in the study and the scientific errors made in producing his data all deserve high levels of scrutiny. Rather than let the world and other influential institutions do this work, UT Austin sociologists have taken it upon themselves to check Prof. Regnerus on his highly flawed research.