Australian researchers question US parenting report’s accuracy
A study released by the University of Texas reporting apparent negative effects for children of same-sex attracted parents has been criticised by Australian researchers and parents.
The report, authored by Mark Regnerus, is the largest population-based survey published in the July issue of Social Science Research and found that children born in the twentieth century to LGBT parents were worse off than children born from married, straight parents.
Regnerus insisted that the report did not show a causal link between having same-sex parents and negative outcomes in later life and said instability is a more likely cause of the negative experiences, including greater welfare dependency.
“Most conclusions about same-sex parenting have been drawn from small, convenience samples, not larger, random ones,” he said.
“The results of that approach have often led family scholars to conclude that there are no differences between children raised in same-sex households and those raised in other types of families. But those earlier studies have inadvertently masked real diversity among gay and lesbian parenting experiences in America.
“This study may not reflect the experience of younger children growing up today in same-sex families, particularly because society has become more accepting of gay and lesbian families in the last decade.”
Dr Simon Crouch of the Australian Study of Child Health in Same Sex Families (ACHESS) told GayNewsNetwork there was only a limited amount of outcomes presented in the report.
“It is important to note that data is only presented on 40 out of a much larger range of possible outcomes,” he said.
“The only explanation given for the choice of these outcomes is that they are "common and oft-studied." It begs the question why were other outcomes excluded and what do they show?
“Further to this there is limited (and selective) use of control data in the more complex analyses. It is interesting to consider that current financial factors, respondent's education level, place of residence etc. are not included as each of these is known to have significant impacts on a number of the outcome measures.”
Crouch added that the report’s main reference group was heterosexual families while the analysis of lesbian mother and gay father families included a diverse and heterogeneous grouping of multiple types and transitions.
“While there may be a number of stable families with same-sex attracted parents in this group there are also a large number of families that have experienced separation, multiple parental relationships and ongoing inconsistencies in domestic arrangements,” he said.
“In fact, given the legislative and social instability that many of these families experienced when the participating children were growing up the most useful conclusion that can be drawn from this study is that affording same-sex families legal and financial security through institutional norms such as marriage equality would likely be the best recourse for children with same-sex attracted parents.”
Crouch said an Australian study by ACHESS currently underway will better understand the current experiences of children in Australia aged between 0 and 17 who have same-sex attracted parents.