08202017Headline:

Regnerus Is ‘Disgraced,’ Anti-Gay Parenting Study ‘Deeply Flawed’ Says Chief Reviewer

skitched 20130529 112201 Regnerus Is ‘Disgraced,’ Anti Gay Parenting Study ‘Deeply Flawed’ Says Chief Reviewer

In a lengthy interview with the Southern Poverty Law Center, Darren Sherkat, a professor of sociology at Southern Illinois University, and a member of the editorial board of Social Science Research — the publisher of the Regnerus “study,” officially the “New Family Structures Study” (NFSS) – once again decimates the Regnerus paper.

“When we talk about Regnerus, I completely dismiss the study,” Sherkat tells the Southern Poverty Law Center:

It’s over. He has been disgraced. All of the prominent people in the field know what he did and why he did it. And most of them know that he knew better. Some of them think that he’s also stupid and an ideologue. I know better. I know that he’s a smart guy and that he did this on purpose, and that it was bad, and that it was substandard.

Regular readers will note that The New Civil Rights Movement was at the forefront of investigating the background and methodology of the Regnerus work, which falsely claimed that adult children raised by gay and lesbian parents by far more likely to perform poorly in life. The Regnerus study claimed that these adults of gay parents had far great chances of using drugs, being on welfare and food stamps, have behavioral problems, and exhibit self-destructive behaviors. The list of negative outcomes was lengthy — and false.

In fact, Regnerus used a sample of adults who were asked not if their parents were LGBT, but if they thought their parents had ever had sex or a relationship with a member of the same-sex. Only a handful of the study’s participants were actually raised by a same-sex couple.

Here at The New Civil Rights Movement, Scott Rose authored dozens upon dozens of articles on Regnerus, and was instrumental in convincing the academic community to re-examine the Regnerus work and the University of Texas to conduct a review of Regnerus’ study.

Below, a few excerpts from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s interview with Darren Sherkat, who “was tapped” by Social Science Research editor James Wright “to conduct an audit of the process of publishing the Regnerus study,” the SPLC writes:

Let’s get down to the details. What’s wrong with the Regnerus paper? Regnerus and other right-wing activists have been fond of claiming that the study is “population-based” or a “national probability study.” As a scientist, I don’t even know what “population-based” means, and the data used in this study are by no means a probability sample. Regnerus’ data are from a large number of people recruited through convenience by a marketing firm — they are not a random, representative sample of the American population. Science requires random samples of the population, and that is not how this marketing firm collected their data.

Several scholars also have pointed to incongruities and outlandish values in the Regnerus study, such as people claiming hundreds of sex partners in the prior week. The online collection of data makes the veracity of responses even more problematic. The state of the art in family research would use a random sample of households and follow up with parents and children to see whether or not parental couplings impacted child outcomes — controlling for other potential influences like income, education, ethnicity, relationship stability, and the like.

Isn’t a key criticism also that the study doesn’t actually address children growing up in households of self-identified LGBT parents? The key measure of gay and lesbian parenting is simply a farce. The study includes a retrospective question asking if people knew if their mother or father had a “romantic” relationship with someone of the same sex when the respondent was under age 18. This measure is problematic on many levels.

Regnerus admits that just two of his respondents were actually raised by a same-sex couple, though I doubt that he can even know that, given his limited data. Since only two respondents were actually raised in gay or lesbian households, this study has absolutely nothing to say about gay parenting outcomes. Indeed, because it is a non-random sample, this study has nothing to say about anything.

The SPLC notes a troubling increase in right wing funding of research that is designed to guarantee a positive outcome for conservative values and positions.

You mentioned what you see as a trend in academia, the rise of conservative ideologies in science and in funding for research. How widespread is that? There is in fact a movement to change the intellectual and cultural climate of academics. This has been going on for over 30 years. Look at things like James Davidson Hunter’s Evangelicalism: The Coming Generation, where he talks about the growth of these more intellectual conservative evangelical types in Christian colleges like Wheaton and Gordon and Calvin, which is Regnerus’ alma mater. They’ve actively courted the young, successful people in these colleges to become professors, to become intellectuals, and they support their careers.

One thing that’s disturbing to me about the Regnerus study is that Regnerus received a large amount of money from these foundations and this creates a very different scholarly and intellectual atmosphere. It creates a playing field that’s not level. Someone like Regnerus is now able to go out and buy his own data, if we’re to accept data of this quality.

Even if we were to say it’s high-quality data, he is able to get a million dollars’ worth of influence — he was able to generate that kind of funding from these conservative foundations in a way that other intellectuals are not able to do. All of the traditional sources of social scientific funding have dried up over the last 20 years and there’s nowhere to go to get money, but these guys have it. There are talks in Congress about cutting the entire social science budget at the National Science Foundation. That is chilling, because then we’ll be completely reliant on people like Mark Regnerus and Brad Wilcox [of the University of Virginia] and Christian Smith [of Notre Dame University] and people like that for our information about potentially crucial or controversial issues.

So it’s less about science and more about fighting a culture war? Absolutely. It’s a real coordinated effort to create a kind of separate culture, to change contemporary culture in broader society. What’s different now is that they are beginning to move into the world, as they call it, and they are adamant about having an impact in the public square. That’s a real change for some of those groups. And they’re enabled in that in a lot of different ways, with the deregulation of education and their ability to create their own educational institutions, to provide home-schooling and all kinds of other alternative educational institutions.

This weekend, Mark Regnerus will appear at the “It Takes A Family” conference, a project of the National Organization for Marriage’s Ruth Institute, where he will lecture alongside intensely anti-gay figures like Robert Gagnon. Just in case you needed more grist for the agenda-driven mill.

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