News: New study reopens same-sex parenting debate

New study reopens same-sex parenting, June 12, 2012

Considerable research has shown that children of same-sex parents fare just as well as children with heterosexual parents. However, two papers published in Elsevier’s “Social Science Research”—one a comprehensive new study and one a review of existing studies—suggest insufficient data exist from which to draw any definitive conclusions.

The review by Dr. Loren Marks from Louisiana State University finds that much of the science that forms the basis for the highly regarded 2005 official brief on same-sex parenting by the American Psychological Association (APA) does not stand up to scrutiny. The new study by University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus provides evidence that a number of differences in social and emotional well-being exist between young adults raised by women who have had a lesbian relationship and those who have grown up in a nuclear family.

Dr. Marks reviewed studies published between 1980 and 2005 cited by the 2005 official APA brief which asserted that: “Not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents.”

“The jury is still out on whether being raised by same-sex parents disadvantages children,”, explains Marks. “However, the available data on which the APA draws its conclusions, derived primarily from small convenience samples, are insufficient to support a strong generalized claim either way.”

Meanwhile, Regnerus used data from the New Family Structures Study, a large nationally representative sample of approximately 3,000 young adults aged 18 to 39, to compare how children raised in eight different family structures fared on 40 social, emotional and relationship outcomes.

According to his findings, children of mothers who have had same-sex relationships were significantly different as young adults on 25 or the 40 outcome measures, compared with those who spent their entire childhood with both their married, biological parents.

Regnerus’ analysis determined that children do not “need a married mother and father to turn out well as adults, but neither does there appear to be a gay and lesbian exception to the general pattern that “children appear most apt to succeed well as adults when they spend their entire childhood with their married mother and father.”

In a response intended to tease out some of the study’s implications on the gay marriage debate, Will Saletan asserts that what the study actually demonstrates is that kids from broken homes headed by gay people develop the same problems as kids from broken homes headed by straight people. Saleten contends that the study highlights the need for fewer broken homes among gays and straights and offers that gay parents owe their kids the same stability as straight parents, a compelling argument for marriage equality.

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