Gay parenting studies under the microscope

Jun 14, 2012

Federal Appeals Court Rules Anti-Gay Marriage Bill, Proposition 8 Unconstitutional

Opponents of Proposition 8, California’s anti-gay marriage bill, Ben, 9, (R) Sophie, 10, (L) and their mother Ellen Evans celebrate at Los Angeles City Hall on February 7, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Recently, a study on the children of gay and lesbian parents made headlines, but not just because of its findings.

The study author Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology of University of Texas at Austin, wanted to find out whether kids of homosexual parents were more likely to have social and emotional problems. He said his findings showed kids from LGBT households fared worse than children of mom-and-dad homes. Regnerus and his collaborator, Cynthia Osborne, also went to pains to say the study cannot explain why.

As Osborne elaborated, “Children of lesbian mothers might have lived in many different family structures, and it is impossible to isolate the effects of living with a lesbian mother from experiencing divorce, remarriage or living with a single parent. Or it is quite possible that the effect derives entirely from the stigma attached to such relationships and to the legal prohibitions that prevent same-sex couples from entering and maintaining ‘normal relationships.'”

Nevertheless, opponents of same-sex marriage seized on the study as arsenal. While many on the other side called the study “flawed, misleading and scientifically unsound.” How was the study conducted exactly? What have other studies found out about gay parenting? And how were those studies designed?


Gary Gates, Scholar, Williams Institute, UCLA

Cynthia Osborne, Study Collaborator, New Family Structures Study published in the journal of Social Science Research; Assoc. Professor, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin

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