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Study Debunks Claim That Kids of Same-Sex Parents Do Less Well

By Evelyn Schlatter on June 6, 2013 - 2:23 pm, Posted in Anti-LGBT
Australian Study of Child Health In Same-Sex Families<br />
Australian Study of Child Health In Same-Sex Families

In the latest blow to anti-gay forces, a major study conducted at the University of Melbourne in Australia has found that children of same-sex parents do as well or better than children raised by heterosexual parents. The Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families collected data on 500 children up to the age of 17 who grew up in gay or lesbian households across the nation.

An interim report on the study released earlier this week noted no statistical difference between children of same-sex couples and the population at large on such indicators as self-esteem, emotional behavior, and time spent with parents. Children of same-sex parents, however, scored higher than the national average for overall health and family cohesion.

Dr. Simon Crouch, the study’s lead researcher, theorized that because same-sex families have to deal with homophobia and bullying, they may be more willing to communicate about these and other issues, resulting in closer families.

Unsurprisingly, University of Texas sociology professor Mark Regnerus, author of a widely discredited study that claims children actually do worse in same-sex families, expressed doubt about the Australian study’s sample. He criticized the study for using what’s called a convenience, or “snowball,” sample to find its same-sex families, like reaching out to same-sex parenting E-mail lists or organizations, something that Regnerus said will bias a study toward positive results. He went on to say that “nonrandom samples are not a representative reflection of the population as a whole.”

However, Regnerus’s study, which has been trumpeted by the anti-gay right as proof that LGBT people are a danger to children, used a marketing firm (which paid participants) to gather his data, something for which he has been criticized. And his sample failed to include children raised in self-identified same-sex households, as the Australian study did. Only three people in Regnerus’ sample said they’d lived with a parent who was involved in a long-term same-sex relationship. Regnerus has publicly admitted that he didn’t know if the parents of those people self-identified as lesbian or gay and he has also stated that his data didn’t include the number or variety of people with a gay parent that he would have liked. Regnerus claims that his study is not about saying gay or lesbian parents are inherently bad. Nevertheless, anti-gay groups continue to use it as a weapon against marriage equality and LGBT people and Regnerus continues to court those same groups.

The Australian study could have wide-reaching effects in that country and beyond. Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd recently switched his position to support marriage equality, explaining that concern about the welfare of children of same-sex couples had been the primary obstacle for him earlier. Although the Australian Senate rejected a marriage equality bill last September, the issue is expected to come up again after this September’s general elections.

  • JmSepe

    Why bother debating about this? It is purely a man’s choice to do whatever he thinks is right or wrong. Why are you all so affected about same-sex parenting when its doing no harm to you. The fact is, this society has been unfair in treating LGBT people, because all of you have prejudices and bias.

  • Aron

    Steve, if you don’t think it’s newsworthy, why are you here?

    Oh that’s right. You’re a WN troll.

  • Georgia Citizen

    Studies don’t always provide conclusive answers to complex problems, but there are good decent gay men, lesbians and transgenders would make good parents for children. Peple like Anita Bryant don’t know the heck they are talking about in the first place, much less last place.

  • Steve

    I can’t think of a less news worthy story. Oh yeah I forgot, it’s a SPLC story. My mistake.

  • Charles Dan Austin

    Hurrah for the SPLC always out front delivering truth. Thank you Morris Dees and staff.

  • Arthur Lum

    While the convience sample of this Australian study may not be ideal they were upfront about it. It is apparent that the people who conducted it are doing better research than Regnerus. Regnerus is author of an even more poorly designed study currently being trotted out in front of judges here in the US. The Australian study was performed by and for academics. The Regnerus study was conducted by Regnerus at the request of the conservative Witherspoon Institute which paid 700,000 dollars to have the study done. Corespondance between the Institute’s president and donors seems to indicate that the president clearly expected (in advance of the study) results unfavorable to marriage equality.

    Regnerus is now a darling of the anti-gay right, even though he has publicly admitted that his study’s conclusions are too weak to reach the conclusions that many have drawn. Regnerus also makes the claim that watching porn makes straight men support gay marriage.

  • Tobias A. Weissman

    Oh! My God. This is so dumb. These studies don’t prove anything. Every thing depends on the child’s thought. Happy invironments provide a solid foundation for a child’s growth. How a child responds to it is any bodies guess. But to make a study of it makes no sense whatsoever for its based on hyperberbely and nothing else. You can not define how a child will grow in any environment. It depends upon the child’s receptivity to it.

  • CM

    “He criticized the study for using what’s called a convenience, or ‘snowball,’ sample to find its same-sex families, like reaching out to same-sex parenting E-mail lists or organizations, something that Regnerus said will bias a study toward positive results. He went on to say that ‘nonrandom samples are not a representative reflection of the population as a whole.’”

    Speaking of bias, what Regnerus should have said is that convenience sampling “may bias a study toward *non-representative* results,” not “positive” results. Whatever bias there may be, it isn’t accurate to say that it will automatically be “positive.” In addition, he should have said that “nonrandom(ized) samples *may not be* representative of the population as a whole.” That’s because “convenience” samples, also known as “accidental” samples, actually can be representative; the issue is simply that it’s not guaranteed.

    Regnerus and Dan Z. are both overstating the case against convenience samples, which are in fact widely used, especially in pilot studies like this one that seek to get a general feel for the landscape of an issue that previously hasn’t been rigorously studied. And while the results of this study may be more suggestive than definitive, they clearly are based on better research design than Regnerus’ work.

  • Sam Molloy

    Of course here in Kentucky, second cousins are freely allowed to marry but people of the same sex are forbidden by an amendment to the State Constitution.

  • Reynardine

    We don’t know, but the kind of people who are motivated to form unions despite social opposition and go to the trouble and expense of adopting children just might be the ones who put a higher priority on founding and maintaining stable families than most people.

  • concernedcitizen

    I bet they will be like most children who live to defy their parents and probably grow up to have heterosexual relationships.

    Especially if the parents really push their desires upon them. How many children have defied the request of a parent to marry a certain man or woman.

    Some will grow up and have same sex unions and others will not. Heterosexual marriages are not doing all that well in America as it stands. So what’s the fuss about allowing the LGBT community to live their lives in peace with their civil liberties in tact?

  • aadila


    No beef with you, as you know I’m strictly vegetarian. But I think the point is missed. So here’s a modest proposal:

    Will a study into white people, for example, who divorce at statistically higher rates than other couples in America, be a worthwhile exploration into whether or not white people should marry and have kids, given the ample number of studies which show, plain as day, the deleterious effects of divorce on children’s wellbeing?

    Should we take this evidence to heart and start generalizing about white people, saying, you know, that so many get divorced. I mean we are talking about a race that statistically gets divorced more than any other. What’s up with that? Surveys prove it. Shouldn’t there be more studies and more research into exactly why so many white people are getting divorced, because let’s face it, the kids are going to be worse off in a white family.

    Should we legislate it and set up religious social movements and donate millions to anti-white people marriage groups and talk about it with our friends and moan about how white people are destroying the sanctity of marriage and making a mockery of the natural, God-ordained union between a man and a woman?

    Should we write our legislators and urge them to vote against any bill that allows white people to get married because after all, statistical evidence shows most will end up in divorce?

    Surely you can see the point.

    Peace, Hays Council, I am being ironic to make a deliberate point. My comment is not about white people. It’s about prejudice and bigotry.

    If kids of homosexual parents are worse off it is not because the parents are homosexual. It is because society is so damned bigoted that it seeks to substantiate its bigotry with surveys.

  • Dan Zabetakis

    ” He criticized the study for using what’s called a convenience, or “snowball,” sample”

    In this case, he is right. This study may be the best available information, but it will not be very strong since the subjects were reportedly self-selected.

    In survey-based science, it is essential to use some sort of random generation of subject pools. But that can be very difficult if your subjects are quite rare (children in same-sex households, for example). Hence the use of convenience samples is attractive, if undesirable.

    But the problem is that non-random selection introduces a very high probability to bias in the data.

    If you recruit people to participate in a study of the outcome of raising children in same-sex households, it is very easy to imagine that happy, successful and contented families will be much more likely to volunteer than distressed, impoverished, or dysfunctional families.

    So we are in the same position we were before, not knowing what the effect on children is when raised in these households.