Minimal Differences Between Young Adults Raised by Gay/Lesbian or Heterosexual Parents

Dr. Simon Cheng PhD. Department of Sociology University of Connecticut, Storrs, CTMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Simon Cheng PhD.

Department of Sociology
University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Cheng: Our research is an empirical response to the Regnerus study, one of the most visible and controversial articles ever published in the social sciences.  His study concluded that individuals raised by a gay or lesbian parent display less favorable adulthood outcomes than those who grew up in intact biological families.  There have been many debates about the study’s conclusion and analysis, but we (Cheng and Powell) are the first to reassess Regnerus’s findings by analyzing his own data.  Our reanalysis seriously calls into question his conclusions. We find that a large number of the people studied in the Regnerus study likely were misclassified as living with gay/lesbian parents.  The misclassifications took several forms:

  • Of the 236 people Regnerus defined as being raised by a “lesbian mother” or “gay father’ 24 (10%) report that they actually never lived with that parent
  • An additional 34 (14%) report that they lived with that parent for a year of less.
  • The 236 people include some questionable responses that lead us to doubt the seriousness of the person completing the survey. The most notable example is a 25 year-old man who reports that his father had a romantic relationship with another man, but also reports that he (the respondent) was 7-feet 8-inches tall, weighted 88 pounds, was married 8 times, and had 8 children.  Another person claims to have been arrested at age 2.
  • The 236 people also include responses that at best are inconsistent and illogical.  For example, one person repots “having always live alone but also claims to have always lived with the mother, father, and two grandparents.”

After reviewing each case, we demonstrated that at least one-third and up to two-fifths were miscounted by Regnerus as having been raised by gay or lesbian parents. Regnerus’s disputable findings are due to these misclassifications and other questionable methodological choices.  When the analyses are more carefully done, our results show minimal differences between young adults who were raised by gay and lesbian parents and young adults who were raised by heterosexual parents.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Cheng: Differences in social, emotional, and relational outcomes between young adults who were raised by gay and lesbian parents and young adults who were raised by heterosexual parents are minimal.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Cheng: Our study illustrates the importance of double checking and critically assessing the implications of methodological decisions in social scientific research.  Future research on small and marginalized social groups—for example, same-sex parent families—should more carefully scrutinize the concepts, variables, and statistical analyses used in the research, and be initially skeptical of the results, even if they correspond with the researchers’ expectations. Future research also should more closely look at the extent to which child of same-sex parents may benefit from their parents being able to marry.

Citation:

Measurement, methods, and divergent patterns: Reassessing the effects of same-sex parents

Simon Chenga,1 Brian Powellb, 1,

Social Science Research Volume 52, July 2015, Pages 615–626

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MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Simon Cheng PhD. (2015). Minimal Differences Between Young Adults Raised by Gay/Lesbian or Heterosexual Parents MedicalResearch.com