Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Does It Make a Difference If Your Parents Are Straight or Gay?


On June 11, 2012, Dr. Mark Regnerus, a sociologist at the University of Texas, had an article published in Slate - Queers as Folk: Does it really make no difference if your parents are straight or gay? Regnerus's sociological study answered: "Yes." He writes, e.g.: "One notable theme among the adult children of same-sex parents, however, is household instability, and plenty of it. The children of fathers who have had same-sex relationships fare a bit better, but they seldom reported living with their father for very long, and never with his partner for more than three years." (Ib.) You can read the Slate article for yourself.

Regnerus's study appeared in the journal Social Science Research. (You can read it in its entirety!) It challenges the "no difference" answer.

Then, Regnerus got blasted. Uh-oh... it is politically incorrect to study such things! The Slate article got hundreds of angry responses by (mostly) non-sociologists. Periodicals like The Chronicle of Higher Education weighed in. A sleazy feast of ad hominem abusives and ad hominem circumstantials made their expected appearance. "Unsurprisingly, some of Regnerus' colleagues want to drive him out of academia on a rail." ( "Challenges to same-sex marriage," in today's Chicago Tribune [7/31/12])

A number of academic social scientists responded in defense of the credibility and value of Regnerus's research:

Byron Johnson, Baylor University
Douglas Allen, Simon Fraser University
Peter Arcidiacono, Duke University
John Bartkowski, University of Texas at San Antonio
David Eggebeen, Penn State University
Michael Emerson, Rice University
Ana Cecilia Fieler, University of Pennsylvania
Alan Hawkins, Brigham Young University
William Jeynes, California State University at Long Beach
Loren Marks, Louisiana State University
Margarita Mooney, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Stephen Robinson, University of North Carolina at Wilmington
Christian Smith, University of Notre Dame
Rodney Stark, Baylor University
James Stoner, Louisiana State University
Peter Uhlenberg, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
W. Bradford Wilcox, University of Virginia
Bradley Wright, University of Connecticut

These scholars affirm: "To be clear: We do not think that these new studies settle the nation’s ongoing debate about gay parenting, same-sex marriage, and the welfare of children. In fact, research on same-sex parenting based on nationally representative samples is still in its infancy. But we think that the Regnerus study, which is one of the first to rely on a large, random, and representative sample of children from parents who have experienced same-sex relationships, has helped to inform the ongoing scholarly and public conversation about same-sex families in America."

The Chicago Tribune piece says: "This is a debate-changing study, especially because it challenges more recent court findings in which judges cite the "no difference evidence" as a reason for overturning laws that define marriage as between a man and a woman."

For many there are simply some truths that are best left hidden.

See also:

"Social Scientists Defend Mark Regnerus' Controversial Study on Same-Sex Parenting"

"Revenge of the Sociologists: The perils of politically incorrect academic research"