HRC Blog

Flawed Paper Ignores 30 Years of Credible Research Showing Gays and Lesbians Are Good Parents

Post submitted by Michael Cole-Schwartz, Former HRC Director of Communications

HRC is joining with the Family Equality Council, Freedom to Marry and GLAAD to speak out against a flawed, misleading, and scientifically unsound paper that seeks to disparage lesbian and gay parents.

The paper, “New Family Structures Study,” written by right-wing author Mark Regnerus and funded in large part by the anti-gay Witherspoon Institute, makes a number of claims about negative outcomes for children raised by gay and lesbian parents.  But the paper barely even examines same-sex couples raising a child together in a long-term committed relationship.

Regnerus is well known for his ultra-conservative ideology and the paper was funded by the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation - two groups commonly known for their support of conservative causes. The Witherspoon Institute also has ties to the Family Research Council, NOM, and ultra-conservative Catholic groups like Opus Dei.

Key problems with the “New Family Structures Study” include: 

  • The paper is fundamentally flawed and intentionally misleading. It doesn’t even measure what it claims to be measuring. Most of the children examined in the paper were not being raised by parents in a committed same-sex relationship—whereas the other children in the study were being raised in two-parent homes with straight parents.
  • Given its fundamental flaws and ideological agenda, it’s not surprising that the paper doesn’t match the 30 years of solid scientific research on gay and lesbian parents and families. That research has been reviewed by child welfare organizations like the Child Welfare League of America, the National Adoption Center, the National Association of Social Workers and others whose only priority is the health and welfare of children and that research has led them to strongly support adoption by lesbian and gay parents.
  • In addition, the paper’s flaws highlight the disconnect between its claims about gay parents and the lived experiences of 2 million children in this country being raised by LGBT parents.  Americans know that their LGBT friends, family members and neighbors are wonderful parents and are providing loving and happy homes to children.
  • The paper fails to consider the impact of family arrangement or family transitions on children, invalidating any attempt on its part to assess the impact of sexual orientation on parenting.  The paper inappropriately compares children raised by two heterosexual parents for 18 years with children who experience family transitions – like foster care – or who live with single or divorced parents, or in blended families. Moreover, the limited number of respondents arbitrarily classified as having a gay or lesbian parent are combined regardless of their experiences of family instability. 

It’s also important to note that leading major medical and family organizations, including the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Association of Social Workers, all confirm that LGBT parents make good parents.

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