Yesterday we published an article (HERE) about an Australian study claiming that children of same-sex parents are healthier. The study and the story has garnered a lot of reaction.
Mark Regnerus, associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin explains how this latest study from the left has some serious methodological weaknesses, including the fact that it studies only the lives and experiences of the LGBT elite.
"Imagine if evangelical sociologists set out to document how the children of evangelical Christian parents fare in life. Imagine that they begin their effort by recruiting parents of children who attend Sunday School classes at places like Wheaton Bible Church outside Chicago and Saddleback Community Church in Orange County, California—both located in prosperous communities with above-average social capital and support for families, children, and faith. They choose this approach because churchgoing, self-identified evangelicals with children under age eighteen comprise less than 3 percent of the population of American adults (this is true), and the researchers figure it will be easier to recruit participants than to evaluate those who might show up randomly in a population-based sample. They know a random sample is best, but they cite “cost constraints” and “difficult research constraints” in justifying their decision to use a convenience sample.
Then the scholars survey the parents, asking them questions about how their kids are faring. They compile the results and call it the American Christian Family Study. The study includes a comparison sample of other parents and children, pulled from a fine population-based survey so as to display whataverage children from average families look like. The evangelical kids compare well; they do better, actually, than the children from average families across the country. Their parents are more likely to report being married, educated, stable, and employed. The parents tell the researchers that the kids are faring well, too—they don’t have many emotional challenges, are doing well in school, and are generally getting along well in life. The study’s initial findings are published in a peer-reviewed social science journal, and they help to improve public perception of evangelical parents.
Would the social scientific community consider this study a solid one, employing high-quality sample selection methods and useful both for understanding the experience of Christian households in America and for comparing this group of children with other children? To put it mildly, it’s unlikely. And I would agree with them."
Mark Regnerus is associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, research associate at its Population Research Center, and a senior fellow at the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture. Portions of this article were adapted from an earlier blog post and National Review Online post by the author.