Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What's wrong with lesbian parenting studies


Volume 7, Issue 3

January 18th, 2012

This has been a noisy week for parenting studies.

First off, was a big (about 5,000 observations) sophisticated (University of Chicago Business School) study of bad behavior in little boys. Conclusion: little boys benefit substantially from living with both their biological parents. The second study was a little (78 observations) simplistic (unrepresentative sample, ideologically motivated researchers) of the Quality of Life of the children of lesbian couples. Conclusion: the children of lesbian couples are just as happy and well-adjusted as their peers. 

Guess which study got the most positive media attention? Yes, in our topsy-turvy world, the study of a handful of hand-picked children of lesbians was greeting with the breathless, fawning attention we've come to expect. 

Guess which study was greeted with skepticism, to the point of dismissal? That's right: the University of Chicago study, based on nationally representative data showing boys need their moms and dads.  Glenn Stanton of Focus on the Family made what he thought was an unremarkable statement, "This supports over three decades of consistent research showing that kids who grow up in a home with their married parents tend to do better in all measures of educational attainment than their peers being raised in single, divorced and cohabiting-parent homes. This is true from everything from grade-point average, behavioral issues, high school graduation and going on to graduate from college. Moms and dads both matter here, as well as the type of relationship between them." 

But the Life-Style Left and the G*y Blogosphere erupted with anger over his "duplicity" and "mischaracterization" of the study. Their complaint: Dr. Stanton might, just might, someday draw the conclusion that same s*x parents aren't as good as married biological parents.

Go figure. 

In our main article this week, we are proud to introduce Mr. Michael Worley, who explains some of the most obvious methodological problems with the study of 78 children. Mr. Worley is a first year law student at the J. Reuben Clark School of Law at Brigham Young University. And most importantly, Michael is a 2011 graduate of our "It Takes a Family to Raise a Village" conference.

On the Ruth Blog earlier this week, I wrote about the tactics of the Left on display in the reaction to the University of Chicago Business School study: the Life-Style Left is outraged over something Dr. Stanton didn't say! And I wrote about the study itself, and what it actually means, here.

I was in the midst of responding to this little dust-up, when the "78-marvelous-children-of-lesbians" study hit the news. I sent out a cry for help among our ITAF graduates, and Michael stepped up to the plate!  Your support for the Ruth Institute helps young people like Michael learn and make the arguments for marriage.

In the meantime, yet another set of breathless headlines hit the wires, this time from Live Science, claiming to show "Why Gay Parents May be the Best Parents." Watch the Ruth Institute blog: we may do a critique of that piece too. Maybe I will. Or maybe another one of our students will!

Bottom line: do not be intimidated by these headlines! There is nothing there! 

We have a goal of getting 10 new donors to the Ruth Institute this week. If you have never donated to the Ruth Institute, now would be a good time! And if you are one of our faithful regular contributors, thank you! And do you have any friends who would make a $25 gift to support marriage? Sure you do! Send them our way! We are grateful for your help in finding our 10 new donors for this week!

Speaking of supporting marriage: I will be in Olympia Washington on Monday, January 23rd, testifying in favor of marriage. If you live anywhere near Olympia, by all means, come to the capitol and help us stick up for marriage! Here is the info from the Family Policy Institute of Washington, the local sponsoring organization.

Promotion of G*y Rights Internationally

Dr. J and Todd Wilken meet on Issues, Etc. to discuss Secretary Clinton's assertion that religious liberty and homosexual rights stem from the same source. (Click the POD icon.)

Subscribe to the complete Ruth Institute podcasts with iTunes!

He sings like an angel

My two-year-old son was singing, or rather, belting out, the Alleluia in his best voice. The only problem was that he replaced the word "Alleluia" with... Keep reading.


What's wrong with lesbian parenting studies

by Michael Worley, First year law student at J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University, and a 2011 graduate of the Ruth Institute "It Takes a Family to Raise a Village" program.

It is common knowledge that TV reports don't tell the whole story. Frequently a group of 75 undecided voters gather to share their responses immediately after a debate. Such people provide instant commentary that the theorists of network TV may not be able to perceive. However, these groups tend not to be predictive of overall election results. Random polling via phone calls shows us much clearer results.

Likewise, the media frequently fails to report the whole picture by reporting on insufficient studies on gay or lesbian parenting. The latest reporting of the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study pertaining to lesbian mothers continues this trend.

Let's consider issues that demonstrate bias with such studies in the context of the latest report—saying that 17 year-old children of lesbian mothers are just as happy as a Washington study of 75 similar children. This post won't address the questions used– even considering how the lesbian couples were found raises red flags.

In the lesbian study, there were several requirements for the couples or single people to be considered:

a. They had to respond to advertisements. This means they wanted to be a public example of a lesbian couple. This would imply they will be more invested in a child's happiness.

b. They had to conceive via insemination (eliminating the vast majority of lesbian couples which have children from previous relationships). This implies that they had the money to afford insemination, and money is a factor in happiness.

c. They had to be women. There are practically no studies of parenting by gay men in existence.

d. They could only be one of the 78 couples who were used.

When you are gathering data, you want a large sample to ensure you get accurate answers. Most Presidential polls will ask between 500-1,500 randomly selected voters—and still not be perfect. The authors instead feel like 78 children (the same 78 they've used before) is enough to conclude things about a much wider group of children. While case studies with small sample sizes can be useful, case studies are best done when there is a pre-established set of research, not as the banner study in the field.



Action Item:

Become a new donor for the Ruth Institute. If you can, give just $100.

Talking Point:

"Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe children of lesbian parents do just as well as normal parents. Maybe this holds independent of whether a child was conceived by insemination. Maybe this holds irrespective of whether the moms stay together. But neither this nor any other NLLFS study based on the same adolescents, whose parents self-selected them, credibly supports any such conclusion." (From this week's main article.)


Lutheran Public Radio: Dr. J is usually on live on Tuesdays from 2-2:15 p.m. Pacific Time (Click the link above to listen live or find a station near you.)

TODAY--Clear Victory Radio, 3-4 p.m. PST "The Definition of Marriage" Listen on-line here.

January 23--Olympia, Washington, 10a.m. to testify at a hearing regarding same s*x marriage. If you're in the area, come see her!

January 21--St. Therese of Carmel Parish, San Diego. 1-4:30p.m. Workshop is entitled: Divorce Prevention 101: Finding Love that Lasts. Free and open to the public.

January 26--Flagstaff, Northern Arizona University, 7-8 p.m. "How Redefining Marriage Affects Everyone"


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