It’s high time we consult the all-powerful God Of Science when we assess the effects of children raised in same-sex headed households. On several occasions, people have attempted to refute my position citing the studies that claim there is “no difference” in outcomes between kids raised by same sex-parents and kids raised in heterosexual households. This misapprehension must be corrected because, as Science God has demonstrated through his Omniscient Data, the opposite is the reality. The children in these new family structures are faring worse than those who are raised by married heterosexual couples.
Authors of the “no differences” studies typically use participants derived by non-random methods, employ small samples, and have few controls. They often rely on recruited or volunteer participants, and some simply ask the parents about child well-being rather than studying actual outcomes for children. In other words, most do not adhere to best practices for social science. While these limitations are regularly acknowledged by the researchers themselves, very seldom are these factors reported within media.
This is not the Scientific Method I learned about in Junior High. How about you?
When best practices are employed, the “no different” conclusion crumbles.
Here is a summary of the studies, from the Supreme Court amicus brief filed on behalf of the American College of Pediatricians, which have used samples large enough to be considered representative:
Of the several dozen extant studies on same-sex parenting in the past two decades, only eight have used a random sample large enough to find evidence of lower well-being for children with same-sex parents if it exists. Of these eight, the four most recent studies, by Dr. Mark Regnerus, Dr. Douglas Allen and two by Dr. Paul Sullins, report substantial and pertinent negative outcomes for children with same-sex parents. The four earlier studies, by Dr. Michael Rosenfeld and three by Dr. Jennifer Wainright and colleagues, find no differences for children with same-sex parents because, due to errors in file coding and analysis, a large portion of their samples actually consists of children with heterosexual parents. When the sample used by Wainright’s three studies is corrected of this error and re-analyzed, these data also show negative outcomes for children with same-sex parents similar to those reported by Regnerus and Sullins. More importantly, they also show substantially worse outcomes for children who have lived an average of ten years with same-sex parents who are married than for those who have lived only four years, on average, with unmarried same-sex parents. At this time, the three largest statistically representative datasets used to address the question—Regnerus’s New Family Structures Survey, with 3,000 cases; the National Health Interview Survey, with 1.6 million cases; and the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, with 20,000 cases—have all found that children with same-sex parents fare substantially worse—most measures show at least twice the level of distress— than do children with opposite-sex parents on a range of psychological, developmental and emotional outcomes.
If we consider social science findings outside of the question of same-sex parenting, there is a consensus in several areas.
- The best social science tells us that men and women parent in different and complementary ways, bringing distinct benefits to their children. When one gender is missing, particularly fathers, we see almost predictable patterns arising in children, specifically early sexual behavior among girls and problems with the law for boys.
- It is widely acknowledged within the psychological community that children suffer trauma when they lose one or both parents to divorce, abandonment (even if subsequently adopted), death, or third-party reproduction.
- We know from decades of research on the impact of divorce and co-habitation, that non-biological care givers tend to be more transitory, invest less time/resources, and be more dangerous to children living under their care.
Given that all three of the above factors will be present in every same-sex parented home, the representative studies on same-sex parenting which show diminished outcomes for children are in-line with social science conclusions in other areas.
There are three important truths you must adhere to when discussing statistics, especially if you are trying to sway hearts and change minds.
First, this is not a commentary on whether or not gay and lesbians are capable parents. One’s sexual attractions do not determine their capacity for child-rearing. A lesbian can be an exceptional mother, I know this by personal experience. She just cannot be a father. A gay man can be a fantastic father and I know several men who fit this description. However, a gay man cannot, no matter how nurturing, be a mother. Children require and desire both.
Secondly, children who grow up outside of a married mother-father home are not doomed. Conversely, if a child is raised by their married mother and father, it’s no guarantee that all will be rosy. But the research tells us that when children are raised by both biological parents within the stability of marriage, the deck is stacked in their favor in the areas of physical, emotional, psychological health. For those raised outside of the married mother-father home, whatever the household make-up may be, kids start out at a disadvantage.
Lastly, being honest and clear-minded about the data is critical in our role as policy-maker, which is every one of us in this great republic of ours. But, as repeated elsewhere on this blog, none of this should have an impact on whether or not we support, love and encourage those who are growing up outside of an in-tact home. Christians especially are charged with reaching out and initiating relationship with those who might be on the “other side” of this issue, or any issue.
This is serious business and children are depending on us to do our best on their behalf. Let us use the truth as a tool, not a weapon.