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Fake news: LGBT activists tout flawed research study about children of homosexuals

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Note:  The abstract of the study, “Same-Sex and Different-Sex Parent Families in Italy: Is Parents' Sexual Orientation Associated with Child Health Outcomes and Parental Dimensions?” follows this article.

July 2, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A new study purports to have found that children of gay fathers and lesbian mothers show fewer psychological problems than children of opposite-sex parents.  Don’t believe it.

Conducted in Italy, the study is deeply flawed, based on a non-random sample of 190  gay and lesbians parents, as well as an equal number of opposite sex couples.

The researcher’s conclusions about the psychological health of the children of gay  parents is based not on interactions with the children, but solely on the parents’ response to “self-report questionnaires ... administered through an online survey,” in which, unsurprisingly, gay dads gave themselves high grades:

Gay fathers generally reported themselves as more competent and satisfied in their couple relationship and living in the most cohesive and flexible family environment.  

In other words, the researchers had no access to these children, only the opinions of their parents.  The authors of the study admit:

because this study did not collect first-hand data from children, it cannot be known how they perceived and coped with their non- traditional family forms or what they thought and felt about having been born through a surrogate or a gamete donor.  

One wonders how these researchers can be comfortable publishing sweeping conclusions about children whom they have never met, never observed, never interviewed.   

That didn’t stop these academics from authoritatively asserting, “The present study warns policy makers against making assumptions on the basis of sexual orientation about people who are more suited than others to be parents or about people who should or should not be denied access to fertility treatments.”

As such, it appears the study was designed to manufacture data in order to reach a pre-ordained conclusion which would facilitate easier access to children for gay and lesbian parents through third party reproduction in the future.

Gay news sites are touting the pro-gay message this report has delivered into LGBT activists’ hands.

The study found that children of same-sex parents had slightly fewer reported difficulties than children of heterosexual parents.

Plus, gay fathers especially showed some better indicators of family functioning than lesbian and straight couples. Professor Baiocco suggests that this may be because of the high level of commitment needed for gay men to become parents via surrogacy. He also noted that the gay fathers were older, economically better off, better educated, and had more stable relationships than the other two groups.

When it comes to assessing the reliability of research, it must be noted that many of these studies involve only gays and lesbians who are easy to access.  Many studies done in recent years have recruited through LGBT events, bookstore and newspaper advertisements, word of mouth, networking, and youth groups.  A common method of recruitment has been to use a combination of the above methods to form a sample base, and then recruit friends of the base.  Each procedure has a different and unknown source of bias.

Digging into this particular study’s methodology, one finds this all-too-familiar pattern of recruitment:

Most of the lesbian mothers and gay fathers were recruited through the mailing list of the Italian Rainbow Family Association, which sent the survey link (along with an invitation to participate in the study) to members; the remaining parents were recruited through online advertisements placed on same-sex parent Facebook groups. Same-sex parents who completed the survey were asked to forward the survey link to different-sex parents of children in the same school class as their own child.

Elsewhere in the report, the authors admit “the convenience nature” of the study is a “limitation.”

Mark Regnerus, associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, a senior fellow of the Austin Institute, and author of Cheap Sex, wrote about the problematic nature of drawing from ‘convenient’ samples:

Until social scientists decide to do the difficult, expensive work of locating same-sex attracted parents (however defined) through random, population-based sampling strategies—preferably ones that do not “give away” the primary research question(s) up front [...]—we simply cannot know whether claims like “no differences” or “happier and healthier than” are true, valid, and on target. Why? Because this non-random sample reflects those who actively pursued participating in the study, personal and political motivations included. In such a charged environment, the public—including judges and media—would do well to demand better-quality research designs, not just results they approve of.

This current study suffers from this inherent weakness.  Regnerus continued:

Snowball sampling doesn’t cut it. When I want to know who’s most apt to win the next election, I don’t ask my friends whom they support. Nor do I field a survey asking interested people to participate. No, I want a random sample of the sort often conducted by Gallup, NORC, or Knowledge Networks.

Regnerus points out the most important reason why this sort of research should not be a basis for future policy considerations:

Parents reporting about their children’s lives are all well aware of the political import of the study topic … As a result, it seems unwise to trust their self-reports, given the high risk of “social desirability bias,” or the tendency to portray oneself (or here, one’s children) as better than they actually are.

This is the Same Junk Science that Led to Same-Sex ‘Marriage’

Before the peculiar notion of same-sex ‘marriage’ became enshrined in law in western nations, similar sorts of studies were conducted in order to pave the way for non-conjugal, non-complementary marriage.

Gay “marriage” proponents insisted that scientific studies lead to the irrefutable conclusion that children raised by same-sex couples do just as well or better than those raised in homes with a mom and a dad.

Yet those studies were equally, serious flawed.

California Supreme Court Justice Vaughn Walker––himself a gay man––in overturning California's Prop. 8, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in his Windsor decision, made ill-informed decisions based on seriously flawed research:

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)

The research was most certainly not “beyond serious debate in the field of developmental psychology.” It was junk science.

In 2013, Professor Doug Allen of Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada, called into question the reliability of such studies and their conclusions:

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.

All these studies still lurk in the minds of many pro-LGBT activists and their media allies, who weaponize them to quickly shut down discussions about what is best for children in this era of genderless “marriage.”

Last week, after speaking on the plaza in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on the 3rd anniversary of its Obergefell Ruling, I had the opportunity to engage in a conversation with a young, pro-gay Capitol Hill intern.  He quoted some of these studies, but seemed to have little intellectual interest in their actual scientific value.  The sole value of the studies––what makes them pure gold––flawed or not––is their usefulness in advancing the LGBT agenda.  

Here’s why it is so important to not allow these sorts of studies to obtain even the slightest patina of legitimacy:

“To entrust children to so-called homosexual couples signifies the violation of the fundamental right of any child: to grow and be educated by a father and a mother,” said  Bishop Athanasius Schneider in a recent interview.  “Entrusting children ...  to so-called homosexual couples in the ultimate analysis represents a moral abuse of the children, of the smallest and most defenseless.”

“This phenomenon will go down in history as one of the greatest degradations of civilization,” he continued.  “Those who are today fighting against such blatant injustice are the true friends of children and heroes of our time.”

****

Study Abstract:

Same-Sex and Different-Sex Parent Families in Italy: Is Parents' Sexual Orientation Associated with Child Health Outcomes and Parental Dimensions?

Roberto Baiocco; Nicola Carone; Salvatore Ioverno; Vittorio Lingiardi

Objective:

Seventy gay fathers through surrogacy, 125 lesbian mothers through donor insemination, and 195 heterosexual parents through spontaneous conception, all with children aged 3 to 11 years and living in Italy, were compared on children's psychological adjustment and prosocial behavior, as well as parental self-efficacy, dyadic adjustment, family cohesion, and flexibility. Associations among family structures, family processes, and child health outcomes were also tested.

Methods:

Participants were matched for child characteristics. Self-report questionnaires were administered through an online survey to the parent who identified as most involved with the child on a day-to-day basis. Multivariate analyses of variance and multiple linear regressions were conducted.

Results:

Children of gay fathers and lesbian mothers were reported as showing fewer psychological problems than children of heterosexual parents. Irrespective of the family type, girls were reported as more prosocial than boys. With respect to parental dimensions, gay fathers described themselves as more competent and satisfied with their couple relationship than did heterosexual parents; they also reported higher levels of family cohesion and flexibility than did lesbian mothers and heterosexual parents. The effect of the family type was not predictive of child health outcomes once family process variables were taken into account.

Conclusion:

Findings suggested that children with same-sex parents fare well both in terms of psychological adjustment and prosocial behavior. The present study warns policy makers against making assumptions on the basis of sexual orientation about people who are more suited than others to be parents or about people who should or should not be denied access to fertility treatments.

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Doug Mainwaring

Doug Mainwaring is a journalist for LifeSiteNews, an author, and a marriage, family and children's rights activist.  He has testified before the United States Congress and state legislative bodies, originated and co-authored amicus briefs for the United States Supreme Court, and has been a guest on numerous TV and radio programs.  Doug and his family live in the Washington, DC suburbs.