As It Turns Out, It Does Make a Difference
By Douglas Mainwaring
October 20, 2013
One key element in the national discussion about same sex-marriage has been its effect on children. Gay marriage proponents have insisted that scientific studies lead to the irrefutable conclusion that children raised by same-sex couples do just as well as those raised in homes with a mom and a dad.
That assertion is now being challenged by a vast new scientific study, conducted by Douglas W. Allen of Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada.
Utilizing a 20% sample of the 2006 Canada census, the study, “High School Graduation rates Among Children of Same-Sex Households,” found that children living with gay and lesbian families in 2006 were about 65% as likely to graduate compared to children living in homes headed by married heterosexual couples.
The previous body of research, consisting of about fifty studies, and heavily relied on by same-sex marriage activists, the media, and even Supreme Court jurists, suffers from serious drawbacks.
This new research calls into question the reliability of those studies and their conclusions. In his analysis of his study’s findings, Professor Allen notes:
The literature on child development in same-sex households is lacking on several grounds.
The research is characterized by levels of advocacy, policy endorsement, and awareness of political consequences, that is disproportionate with the strength and substance of the preliminary empirical findings.
Almost all of the literature on same-sex parenting (which almost always means lesbian parenting) is based on some combination of weak empirical designs, small biased convenience samples, ”snowballing,” [i.e., the practice of asking individuals within a study to recruit their friends and associates to join the study] and low powered tests.
Many of the past studies which served to justify the ruling by California Supreme Court Justice Vaughn Walker in overturning California’s Prop. 8, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in his Windsor decision, were seriously flawed, leading to false, no longer substantive conclusions, like this one:
Children raised by gay or lesbian parents are as likely as children raised by heterosexual parents to be healthy, successful and well-adjusted. The research supporting this conclusion is accepted beyond serious debate in the field of developmental psychology. (Justice Vaughn Walker, section 70, Perry v. Schwarzenegger)
Walker’s conclusion no longer resonates as valid.
Because the sample base for the Allen study was extremely large, data for gay and lesbian couple households could be examined separately. The research is revealing, offering new insights. Among them, children of gay parents are estimated to be 69% as likely to graduate compared to children from opposite-sex married homes. Children in lesbian households are 60% as likely to graduate from high school.
Perhaps most startling are the findings regarding the gender of the children and their graduation outcomes, which vary wildly based on whether they were raised in gay vs. lesbian households. Daughters raised by gay men are only 15% as likely to graduate, while daughters of lesbian parents are 45% as likely to graduate. Interestingly, sons of lesbian parents are 76% as likely to graduate, while boys raised by gay men are 61% more likely to graduate than those raised by lesbians.
A 2012 study published by University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus was universally condemned by the LGBT activists and many in the media, presumably because it challenged the conventional wisdom founded on previous research. When “How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships?” was published, a national campaign to discredit Regnerus’s work immediately ensued. With the publication of this new research, Regnerus’s work is vindicated, if not proven prescient.
The Allen study demands a re-examination of the conventional wisdom that has propelled the national debate about same-sex marriage and its impact on children.
We have been too hasty to declare ourselves “on the right side of history” when it comes to enacting same-sex marriage. Is it good for kids — as so many have asserted — that we have recent court rulings and ballot initiatives decided based on a very small array of weak research, leading to refutable, unscientific conclusions?
When it comes to assessing the reliability of past studies, it must be noted that researchers have studied only those community members who are convenient to study. Many studies recruited through LGBT events, bookstore and newspaper advertisements, word of mouth, networking, and youth groups. A common method of recruitment was to use a combination of the above methods to form a sample base, and then recruit friends of the base. Still other studies failed to even mention how their samples were arrived at. Each different procedure has a different and unknown source of bias.
Both the U.S. census and the Canada census show that children living with same-sex parents perform more poorly in school when compared to children from married opposite-sex families. This study suggests that more research is required to discover why.
It also demands that we immediately slow down the freight train of same-sex marriage legislation and judicial decisions barreling across our nation. No matter how entitled gays and lesbians feel to co-opt the institution of marriage and pursue “equality,” the needs and rights of our children must come first.