Australian Study of Children with Homosexual Parents is Down Under the Line of Credibility

By Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council

Headlines are full of a new Australian “interim report” that studied kids with homosexual parents — one that reportedly shows “children of same-sex couples thriving.” Not surprisingly, the motivation for the research may be more political than academic. Just last year, the Australian Parliament rejected the redefinition of marriage — but the pressure from liberals is still on.

Homosexual activists around the world are desperate to counter the “gold-standard” research released last year by University of Texas sociologist Dr. Mark Regnerus. His study, which surveyed upwards of 5,000 people, showed that children with a parent who had a homosexual relationship suffered serious deficits on a wide range of outcomes. (FRC’s Peter Sprigg wrote an analysis and detailed summary of the Regnerus research.) Regnerus responded to the reports out of Australia, criticizing it for its methodological weaknesses. Unlike Regnerus’s survey, the Australian authors refused to use a random sample and instead recruited participants at local gay and lesbian groups.

“Simply put,” Regnerus says, “its participants are likely very aware of the political import of the study topic, and an unknown number of them probably signed up for that very reason. As a result, I’m just not sure I trust their self-reports, which may be subject to considerable ‘social desirability bias,’ or the tendency to portray oneself on surveys as better than one actually is.”

Also, this study is not limited to kids raised by same-sex “couples” — it’s a study of “children… with at least one parent who self identifies as being same-sex attracted.” Ironically, one of the chief criticisms of Regnerus was that his subjects were not necessarily raised by same-sex couples (a point he made clear). If that limited the relevance of Regnerus’s research to the debate over the same-sex “marriage,” as critics claimed, then surely the same is true of the Australian study.

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