A new study from the University of Melbourne in Australia on how kids from same-sex homes fare is getting a good deal of press. Perhaps you’ve seen the news stories and wondered if this changes the nature of the debate over the importance of the family.
It does not.
This new study gives the same kind of findings we’ve seen before, coming from the same kinds of studies with the same kinds of serious short-comings and method problems. You can read about the weaknesses of those previous studies here, here and here.
But, despite all the fanfare it is receiving, this study tells us nothing about how kids in same-sex homes thrive compared to children being raised by their married mother and father. It doesn’t even address the issue, which is the primary issue in this debate. I explain this and the other major problems with this study in four major points.
1) The authors of the study plainly admit its significant methodology problems, which are the same problems with other such studies with similar findings.
a) It uses a very small (500 children) non-representative sample.
b) It is a convenience sample, meaning they used the most convenient sample collection available, by advertising in gay communities/publications/etc. and interested people signed up to participate in the study.
c) The parents participating in the study knew they were signing up for and participating in a major study on the well-being of same-sex families.
d) The information was collected via self-reports from the parent on the well-being of their child.
The authors fail to appreciate that these same-sex parents – knowing they were participating in a significant study on same-sex families that would have very important political and social implications – have strong reason to be more positive in their self-reporting in significant ways on their child’s health relative to the comparison sample group of heterosexual parents whose data came from general, non-partisan public health surveys. This is not a small point.
2) This study compared kids from two-mom and two-dad homes (only 18% were from dad/dad homes) with kids from heterosexual homes. There is no explanation whatsoever of which kinds of homes these comparison group kids were from, which again is a big problem with nearly every such study because different forms of heterosexual homes can be drastically different in terms of child well-being outcomes. Are they all married mother/father families? They were not. But how many were? How many were from cohabiting, single, divorced or remarried step homes? The authors do not say and never address this question as important which is an incredible and embarrassing oversight.
Given this, the study’s conclusion is useless, as it essentially finds that kids growing up in same-sex homes look like kids that grow up in some kinds of heterosexual homes. This simply is not news.
But how do they compare to children growing up with their own married mothers and fathers? This study has no way of telling us one way or the other, and it didn’t even try, rendering it practically useless on this point because there is no major voice arguing that same-sex parents do worse than children than any of the various kinds of heterosexual homes. Nearly everyone making the case holds that they will not do as well as children growing up with their own married mother and father. The study disproves a thesis that no one is making, ignoring the actual ball that is in play.
3) The study contains drastic and important differences in their heterosexual and same-sex parenting samples, which fall significantly in favor of more positive same-sex family outcomes.
a) The same-sex parented kids’ population sample is a highly selective, non-representative sample of only 500 children.
b) The comparison population of kids from hetero-homes came from two very different studies with randomly selected samples of 5,335 and 5,025 children each.
c) The same-sex population sample had parents with dramatically higher incomes and education status than the general population.
- Income: 406 out of the 500 same-sex parented homes had annual household incomes from 60,000 to 250,000 dollars or higher compared to the average 64,000 annual household income of the more representative heterosexual sample group.
- Education: At least 384 homes in the 500 same-sex children sample had four-year college degrees or greater, 232 with postgraduate degrees. The same numbers for the general population are not even comparable.
d) The study does not specify age at first parenthood, but if similar to other such studies, same-sex parents generally have their first child in their early- to mid-thirties.
Each of these factors mean that the measurements for the kids from same-sex homes have characteristics that strongly favor more positive well-being outcomes compared to the heterosexual-family comparison sample, i.e. more selective, smaller sampling, dramatically higher household income and parental education status, as well as later age, maturity and life-stability at age of having their first child. These are far from anything close to equal measurements and comparisons.
4) Finally, the study curiously contends that children do better in same-sex homes but they are also more likely to suffer serious harm from social stigma regarding their family. While the authors don’t make this connection, nor do any of the mainstream journalists reporting on the study, it would appear that if this apparent debilitating stigma were erased, these kids would be the new super kids, doing markedly better than all other kids right? “Treat us badly and we still do better than you!”
So which is it? Are same-sex homes triumphantly superior or victims? It’s hard to sustain being both. But holding to both is politically expedient, so…
And it would follow from these studies and the widespread and uncritical political trumpeting of they receive that it might actually be stunting children’s health and happiness by letting them be raised by their own mothers and fathers. When I bring this point up to my debate partners, they always answer, “Oh, now no one is saying that!” But they don’t need to because logic leads us directly there. But these last two points are just but two examples of the dramatic over-reach these folks routinely make and which will likely be a major reason for their eventual downfall in the marketplace of ideas.
But rest easy. Nature’s purpose and design in ideally giving every child her own mother and father as parents has not been challenged by any serious studies to date, including this one. And it is unlikely any serious study ever will.
No politically manufactured form of family has ever rivaled or replaced the natural form of family of mother, father and child.