World
Auditing prof calls study condemning gay parents 'bulls---'

Credits: REUTERS/ADREES LATIF

QMI AGENCY

When asked to comment on a controversial study that claims having gay parents is harmful to children, the professor hired to audit the research said, bluntly: "It's bulls---."

Darren E. Sherkat, a professor of sociology at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, was speaking to the Chronicle of Higher Education newspaper, which has received an early copy of the audit, due out in November.

Sherkat was appointed by the Social Science Research journal to review a study it published in February that claimed the children of gay parents were vastly more likely to become pot smokers, unemployed, depressed, sexually victimized, sexually promiscuous and unhealthy, among other things.

The study, by University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus, blamed these stats on a lack of stability in families with gay parents.

While anti-gay marriage groups have touted the study as evidence to protect the traditional definition of marriage in the U.S., many academics have spoken out against the study's methods.

The American Psychological Association has said it "sheds no light on the parenting of stable, committed same-sex couples," and more than 200 professors from all over the U.S. penned an open letter to the journal calling for an investigation -- which it did.

That's because it compares the children of married, biological parents to people who have at least one parent who have had at least one same-sex relationship of any length during their child's lifetime. Those included people with unmarried parents, broken homes, or families where one parent had cheated with a member of the same sex.

Very few grew up with a stable, same-sex couple as parents. In fact, only two of the study's respondents actually lived with a lesbian couple for their entire childhoods.

Sherkat told the Chronicle the study's broad definition of gay parents was "extremely misleading" and should have "disqualified it immediately."

"Reviewers uniformly downplayed or ignored the fact that the study did not examine children of identifiably gay and lesbian parents, and none of the reviewers noticed that the marketing-research data were inappropriate for a top-tier social-scientific journal," he wrote in his audit.

But Regnerus -- who is not commenting on the controversy his study has ignited until after the audit is complete -- admitted this discrepancy in a Slate.com article about the study in June.

"We didn't have as many intact lesbian and gay families as we hoped to evaluate, even though they are the face of much public deliberation about marriage equality. But it wasn't for lack of effort," he wrote.

"Let me be clear: I'm not claiming that sexual orientation is at fault here, or that I know about kids who are presently being raised by gay or lesbian parents. Their parents may be forging more stable relationships in an era that is more accepting and supportive of gay and lesbian couples. But that is not the case among the previous generation, and thus social scientists, parents, and advocates would do well from here forward to avoid simply assuming the kids are all right."

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