by NZ CATHOLIC staff
CHRISTCHURCH — A New Zealand pro-life commentator has blasted the methodology and findings of an Australian sociological study that found that children with homosexual, bisexual or lesbian parents are happier and healthier than kids from the average family.
Writing on his Leading Edge blog on July 22, Brendan Malone stated that the Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families, out of the University of Melbourne, was “ideologically motivated”.
The preliminary findings of the study were listed in an article in the Sunday Star Times in New Zealand on July 21.
The lead researcher was Dr Simon Crouch, a homosexual man with four-year-old twin boys. The study collected data on the physical, mental and social wellbeing of 500 children aged 5 to 17, from 315 homosexual, lesbian and bisexual parents.
Children from same-sex couples scored better than the national average for Australia in general health and family cohesion measures. There was no difference in physical and mental health, interaction with others and relationship with parents.
But Mr Malone wrote that the results were highly suspect given that the data for the research came from a survey form completed by parents themselves, and that participants in the study were recruited primarily from advertising that targeted homosexual and lesbian communities and events. That would lead inevitably to “an overabundance of ideologically motivated participants with a vested interest [in] becoming caught up in such a survey”, he observed.
Other problems with the study were that responses by children were optional and, since these were limited to children aged under 18, most would still be dependent on their parents, which was clearly a conflict of interest, Mr Malone wrote.
He added that a survey of 315 heterosexual parents done in the same way would easily refute the study’s findings, but concluded the study’s methods were not robust, and its conclusions not reliable.
“Anyone with half an ounce of commonsense, and who has ever been a parent, or read even just a little bit about parenting research, can tell you how ludicrous it is to claim that boys don’t actually need their dad, or their mother, in their life, or that the same is true for girls, and in fact, that children would be better off if either their mother or father wasn’t actually present for their parenting,” Mr Malone wrote.
He also cited research by University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus, published last year in the journal Social Science Research that suggested that adult children who had been raised, for at least a brief time, in families with a homosexual, lesbian or bisexual parent, were more likely to report dysfunctional adult outcomes than those who had been raised in other family structures, especially families with continuously married heterosexual parents.
The Regnerus study surveyed a random sample of 20,000 participants, rather than a few hundred as in the Australian study, Mr Malone noted.
Writing on the mercatornet.com website late last year, University of Kansas Professor of Family Studies Walter Schumm noted that Dr Regnerus’s study raised a huge cry of protest and there was an investigation by the University of Texas into the ethics used, but Dr Regnerus was cleared of any wrongdoing.
But Professor Schumm, while noting some methodological improvements Dr Regnerus could have used, also stated: “There is considerable research that notes the instability of lesbian and gay parental relationships, the tendency of their children to be involved in substance abuse, and the tendency of such children to experiment with or adopt same-sex sexual behaviours or identities — results similar to those that Regnerus reported.”
In another article on mercatornet this year, American academics Leon Kass from the University of Chicago and Harvey Mansfield of Harvard University warned that same-sex marriage is a very recent innovation, as is child-rearing by same-sex couples.
“Even if same-sex marriage and child rearing by same sex couples were far more common than they are now, large amounts of data collected over decades would be required before any responsible researcher could make meaningful scientific estimates of the effects,” they stated.
“There neither are nor could possibly be any scientifically valid studies from which to predict the effects of a family structure that is so new and rare. The necessary data simply do not exist.”