The Gay Parent Report Card
THE SOURCE: “How Different Are the Adult Children of Parents Who Have Same-Sex Relationships? Findings From the New Family Structures Survey” by Mark Regnerus, in Social Science Research, July 2012.
A number of well-publicized studies have made the case that children raised by gay parents differ little from those reared by heterosexual couples. As appealing as this conclusion may be, says sociologist Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas, Austin, the supporting research has many flaws. For one, the studies focus on outcomes for children and teenagers, while many effects of upbringing aren’t evident until later in life. Also, they rely on the answers of parents, who may not be the most objective sources. Most important, respondents were self-selected rather than chosen at random, and many were the kind one finds in educated and progressive urban environments.
A study he based on a more varied pool of data “reveals far greater diversity in the experience of lesbian motherhood (and to a lesser extent, gay fatherhood) than has been acknowledged or understood,” Regnerus says. He surveyed a nationally representative sample of 3,000 young adults about their health, social behaviors, and relationships. Most had come of age before gay marriage became legal anywhere—the oldest participants had turned 18 in 1990 and the youngest in 2011. More than 200 respondents had at least one parent who had had a same-sex romantic relationship. It was a diverse group: Forty-three percent of those with a lesbian mother were black or Hispanic.
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