HRC Blog

University of Central Florida Embroiled in Ploy to Keep Controversial Regnerus Documents Secret

Call it outPost submited by Dan Rafter, Former HRC Associate Director of Communications

The University of Central Florida (UCF) has ramped up its legal efforts to block the release of over 50,000 documents related to the flawed same-sex parenting study by Mark Regnerus that appeared last year in the publication Social Science Research, housed at UCF.  A judge ruled the university had to release the documents, deemed public records under Florida law. Late last week, UCF retained legal counsel and ignored the court order.

The Law Office of Andrea Flynn Mogensen, P.A., and Barrett, Chapman & Ruta, P.A – which represents John Becker, the reporter who initially sought the documents under Florida public records law - immediately filed an emergency motion for civil contempt.

"What is UCF hiding?" asked Becker. "And why are they fighting tooth and nail - spending taxpayer dollars in the process - to keep these public records under seal?"

Judge Donald Grincewicz ruled on November 13 that emails and documents possessed by UCF related to the Regnerus study’s peer-review process must be turned over to Becker. UCF houses the journal Social Science Research, and the editor of the journal, UCF Professor James Wright, led the peer-review process for the research. Grincewicz has since inexplicably recused himself. And yesterday, an appellate court in Orlando granted a stay in the case until such time as a new judge can be appointed.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation funded the litigation and today launched “The Regnerus Fallout” website detailing the flaws, funding, and real purpose of the so-called study.  

Regenerus’ New Family Structures Study is a clear outlier among 30 years’ worth of social science that suggest that children thrive equally well in two parent households, regardless of the genders of their parents. Two-hundred scholars and the American Sociological Association were quick to point out conflicts of interest among individuals and organizations that were both funding and working on the study, as well as a questionable peer review process. The study’s so-called “straight” households featured heterosexual parents in committed, long-term relationships, whereas the so-called “gay” households failed to feature same-sex couples in comparable relationships.

UCF has retained Charles Wells, former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice, to serve as lead counsel in the case.

"These latest stalling tactics are typical of the way UCF has conducted itself throughout this entire months-long ordeal," said Becker. "Instead of respecting the rule of law in Florida and turning over these public records, the university has stonewalled and obstructed at every turn. Nevertheless, I'm confident that we will prevail in the end and uncover all the public records, including even more of the anti-LGBT animus behind Regnerus' research.”

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