Gay Parenting Studies Disputed by Association; Standing by Earlier Research

Article excerpt

Byline: Cheryl Wetzstein, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Amid a firestorm of criticism over a pair of new studies on gay parenting, the world's largest organization of psychologists has affirmed its own position that sexual orientation is not a factor in parental fitness.

The American Psychological Association (APA) said this week that it and other prominent health and social organizations have concluded that there is no scientific evidence that parenting effectiveness is related to parental sexual orientation.

This is based on a remarkably consistent body of research on lesbian and gay parents and their children, the APA said in its Monday statement.

The APA's response came after two academics challenged these kinds of assertions in separate, peer-reviewed studies in Social Science Research.

One of the studies - by Louisiana State University associate professor Loren Marks - took aim at the APA's 2005 paper on gay parenting that said [N]ot a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents.

Mr. Marks said that a close examination of the 59 studies cited in the APA paper revealed an array of serious problems, including the use of small samples of similar people who agreed to be part of the studies.

Strong assertions about gay parenting, including those made by the APA, are not empirically warranted, Mr. Marks wrote, adding that fresh, rigorous research is needed to answer questions affecting families and children.

In the second study, University of Texas-Austin associate professor Mark Regnerus used a large, new data set to randomly identify some 3,000 young adults, ages 18 to 39, who grew up in eight family forms, including about 250 persons who grew up with parents who had same-sex relationships.

Mr. Regnerus reported that, based on 40 outcomes in the New Family Structures Study (NFSS), the children who grew up with their married father and mother had different - often better - outcomes than children raised in other family forms, including lesbian mothers and gay fathers. Thus, the empirical claim that there are no significant differences between gay parents and heterosexual parents must go, wrote Mr. Regnerus.

Both men recognized the combustibility of their work - Mr. Marks described his efforts as charging into a firestorm with a squirt gun - and gay rights groups and their liberal allies didn't hesitate in condemning the new studies. …