About that “gay parenting” study

by Walter Olson on July 18, 2012

It’s almost entirely off-topic for this site, but some readers may be interested in my new piece for Huffington Post (my first in that venue) poking some additional holes in an already much-criticized study by Mark Regnerus finding bad life outcomes among young adults who report that a parent had a same-sex relationship. Sample:

The Witherspoon Institute, discussing the study’s findings, adds another clue: “48% of the respondents with a GF [gay father], and 43% of the respondents with an LM [lesbian mother] indicated that they were either black or Hispanic.” Those numbers sound awfully high, and they are. They far exceed the roughly 30-percent black-plus-Hispanic share of the U.S. population. Why would young adults with minority backgrounds and a high rate of economic distress report having far more than their share of gay parents? Are they somehow more likely to grow up in homes with actual gay parents? Or are their parents somehow being overclassified as gay?

Putting together that with other anomalies in the study data, I conclude that the study does not come even close to measuring what it claims to be measuring. See also: Amy Davidson, New Yorker, among a whole mini-literature of responses.

{ 4 comments }

1 Greg 07.19.12 at 1:57 pm

These percentages do not seem unlikely to me. My own observation is that a large proportion of black and hispanic gay men have fathered children – certainly, a much higher proportion than of white gay men. I leave to others to speculate about why, but I have no doubt that it is true.

2 Ron Miller 07.19.12 at 8:10 pm

Greg, I can’t really speak to this issue but I’m not sure your own limited observations are particularly helpful without data. How many people are in your observational study? I can’t imagine you could have no doubt that it is true.

While you say you will leave it to others as to speculate why, I struggle to even come up with a hypothesis that makes sense.

3 Greg 07.19.12 at 11:53 pm

I spent a couple of minutes on the internet. Here’s an article from the New York Times last year.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/19/us/19gays.html?pagewanted=all

The tone of the article is quite favorable to the idea of gay parenting. It provides the following information and hypotheses:

Black or Latino gay couples are twice as likely as whites to be raising children, according to Mr. Gates, who used data from a Census Bureau sampling known as the American Community Survey. They are also more likely than their white counterparts to be struggling economically.

Experts offer theories for the pattern. A large number of gay couples, possibly a majority, entered into their current relationship after first having children with partners in heterosexual relationships, Mr. Gates said. That seemed to be the case for many blacks and Latinos in Jacksonville, for whom church disapproval weighed heavily.

“People grew up in church, so a lot of us lived in shame,” said Darlene Maffett, 43, a Jacksonville resident, who had two children in eight years of marriage before coming out in 2002. “What did we do? We wandered around lost. We married men, and then couldn’t understand why every night we had a headache.”

Moreover, gay men who have children do so an average of three years earlier than heterosexual men, census data shows, Mr. Gates said. At the same time, there are fewer white women of childbearing age nationally, according to demographers, while the number of minority women of childbearing age is expanding.

4 Ron Miller 07.20.12 at 2:02 pm

Greg 1
Ron 0

Who knew?

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