This article was originally posted by the Family Research Council.

By Peter Sprigg Senior Fellow for Policy Studies

In a historic study of children raised by homosexual parents, sociologist Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin has overturned the conventional academic wisdom that such children suffer no disadvantages when compared to children raised by their married mother and father. Just published in the journal Social Science Research,[1] the most careful, rigorous, and methodologically sound study ever conducted on this issue found numerous and significant differences between these groups–with the outcomes for children of homosexuals rated “suboptimal” (Regnerus’ word) in almost every category.

The Debate Over Homosexual Parents

In the larger cultural, political, and legal debates over homosexuality, one significant smaller debate has been over homosexual parents. Do children who are raised by homosexual parents or caregivers suffer disadvantages in comparison to children raised in other family structures–particularly children raised by a married mother and father? This question is essential to political and ethical debates over adoption, foster care, and artificial reproductive technology, and it is highly relevant to the raging debate over same-sex “marriage.” The argument that “children need a mom and a dad” is central to the defense of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Here is how the debate over the optimal family structure for children and the impact of homosexual parents has usually gone:

  • Pro-family organizations (like Family Research Council) assert, “Social science research shows that children do best when raised by their own biological mother and father who are committed to one another in a life-long marriage.” This statement is true, and rests on a large and robust collection of studies.
  • Pro-homosexual activists respond, “Ah, but most of those studies compared children raised by a married couple with those raised by divorced or single parents–not with homosexual parents.” (This is also true–in large part because the homosexual population, and especially the population of homosexuals raising children, is so small that it is difficult to obtain a representative sample.)
  • The advocates of homosexual parenting then continue, “Research done specifically on children raised by homosexual parents shows that there are no differences (or no differences that suggest any disadvantage) between them and children raised by heterosexual parents.”
  • Pro-family groups respond with a number of critiques of such studies on homosexual parents. For example, such studies usually have relied on samples that are small and not representative of the population, and they frequently have been conducted by openly homosexual researchers who have an ideological bias on the question being studied. In addition, these studies also usually make comparisons with children raised by divorced or single parents–rather than with children raised by their married, biological mother and father.

Continue reading this article at FRC.org.

[1] Mark Regnerus, “How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study,” Social Science Research Vol 41, Issue 4 (July 2012), pp. 752-770; online at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0049089X12000610