Bench Memos

Exposing the Schlock Social Science on Gay Parenting—Part 1

The mainstream academic journal Social Science Research has just published two articles that expose and challenge the schlock social science on gay parenting that has been uncritically embraced and propagated by so many people eager to advance the cause of gay marriage.

In “Same-sex parenting and children’s outcomes: A closer examination of the American Psychological Association’s brief on lesbian and gay parenting,” LSU professor Loren Marks addresses a puzzle: On the one hand, studies based on “large, representative samples” have shown that “[c]hildren who grow up in a household with only one biological parent are worse off, on average, than children who grow up in a household with both of their biological parents.” On the other hand, “social science research with small convenience samples has repeatedly reported no significant differences between children from gay/lesbian households and heterosexual households.” (Pp. 735-736 (emphasis added).)

Marks’s essential answer to the puzzle is that the studies “with small convenience samples” are unreliable. Among other things:

1. “[S]ocial researchers examining same-sex parenting have repeatedly selected small, non-representative, homogeneous samples of privileged lesbian mothers to represent all same-sex parents.” (P. 739 (emphasis added).)

2. “[I]n selecting heterosexual comparison groups for their studies, many same-sex parenting researchers have not used marriage-based intact families as heterosexual representatives, but have instead used single mothers.” (P. 741 (emphasis added).) Despite the broad claims made on behalf of the research, “with rare exceptions, the research does not include studies comparing children raised by two-parent, same-sex couples with children raised by marriage-based, heterosexual couples. (P. 742.)

3. The American Psychological Association’s claim that “not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged” fails to take account of the largest study that actually examined “children’s developmental outcomes.” (Pp. 742-743.)

4. The same-sex parenting studies have failed to address a range of outcomes for children that are usually the focus of national studies on children, including drug and alcohol abuse, truancy, sexual activity, and criminality. (Pp. 743-744.)

Relatedly, and before I turn in the next post to the second new Social Science Research article, I’d like to highlight this recent paper, “Sexual Orientation and Reason: On the Implications of False Beliefs about Homosexuality,” by psychologist Stanton L. Jones. Among the many noteworthy conclusions that Jones draws from his review of existing studies are that the “Achilles’ heel of research into the homosexual condition” is “the difficulty of achieving sample representativeness in the area” and that “findings of influential earlier studies are severely distorted by volunteer bias resulting from the way unrepresentative samples have been gathered.” (P. 3.)

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