Why the Liberal Intolerance for New Family Structures Study?

Jennifer Marshall   June 15, 2012 in “The Foundry

The author of a new study showing some negative outcomes for young adults whose parents had same-sex relationships is under attack because his findings conflict with what, in some corners, has become conventional wisdom.

Apparently, the idea that there is “no difference” between children of same-sex parents and their peers raised in traditional married mother-and-father households has become so entrenched among some advocates that new research presenting a contrasting picture is unwelcome—to put it mildly.

University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus’s New Family Structures Study (NFSS) is a large, nationally representative random sample of 3,000 young adults ages 18–39. It found better outcomes for those raised in intact biological families when compared to peers in seven other family structures.

Despite the quality of the sample and the wide range of findings, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation (GLAAD) called it a “flawed, misleading, and scientifically unsound paper that seeks to disparage lesbian and gay parents.” A writer at The American Prospect said it was “appalling and irresponsible.” An assistant editor at The New Republic called Regnerus a “retrograde researcher” and suggested that this study should “mark the beginning of the end of Mark Regnerus’s credibility with respectable news outlets.”

And these are the folks who urge us to be tolerant of differences and respect scientific research.

The peer-reviewed study that some are writing off as “dangerous propaganda” has in fact been credited by its critical reviewers for advancing research through its use of a large, nationally representative random sample. In a response that appears in the same issue of the journal Social Science Research, demographer Cynthia Osborne says that “the Regnerus study is more scientifically rigorous than most of the other studies in this area.”

Similarly, Penn State sociologist Paul Amato writes that the NFSS “is probably the best that we can hope for, at least in the near future.”

[Read the whole article online in "The Foundry" website.]

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