I don’t know if the study’s any good or not — but I’m positive that if it had found that children of gay couples do better, there would be no such inquiry, regardless of who had funded it. And the point here is mostly to warn other researchers that it’s just better not to look into certain subjects, or to come up with the wrong conclusions if you do.It is worth reading the study. The author points out that previous studies of children raised in homosexual homes have suffered from both sampling problems (non-random methods of acquiring test subjects) and comparisons to other less than optimal child-rearing situations:
Much early research on gay parents typically compared the child development outcomes of divorced lesbian mothers with those of divorced heterosexual mothers (). This was also the strategy employed by psychologist Fiona , who compared lesbian mothers with single, divorced heterosexual mothers and found “no systematic differences between the quality of family relationships” therein. , using 44 cases in the nationally-representative Add Health data, reported that teenagers living with female same-sex parents displayed comparable self-esteem, psychological adjustment, academic achievement, delinquency, substance use, and family relationship quality to 44 demographically “matched” cases of adolescents with opposite-sex parents, suggesting that here too the comparisons were not likely made with respondents from stable, biologically-intact, married families.This is apparently the first really large, random study, involving 3000 adults, and concludes that children raised by both their biological parents are considerably better off than those raised in not only homosexual families, but also in heterosexual divorced families.
Besides being brand-new data, several other aspects about the NFSS are novel and noteworthy. First, it is a study of young adults rather than children or adolescents, with particular attention paid to reaching ample numbers of respondents who were raised by parents that had a same-sex relationship. Second, it is a much larger study than nearly all of its peers. The NFSS interviewed just under 3000 respondents, including 175 who reported their mother having had a same-sex romantic relationship and 73 who said the same about their father. Third, it is a weighted probability sample, from which meaningful statistical inferences and interpretations can be drawn. While the 2000 (and presumably, the 2010) US Census Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) offers the largest nationally-representative sample-based information about youth in same-sex households, the Census collects much less outcome information of interest. The NFSS, however, asked numerous questions about respondents’ social behaviors, health behaviors, and relationships. This manuscript provides the first glimpse into those outcomes by offering statistical comparisons of them among eight different family structures/experiences of origin. Accordingly, there is much that the NFSS offers, and not just about the particular research questions of this study.The author points to the problem of self-selection of respondents, and how this may produce a very atypical sample. The NFSS study is different in this respect:
The data collection was conducted by Knowledge Networks (or KN), a research firm with a very strong record of generating high-quality data for academic projects. Knowledge Networks recruited the first online research panel, dubbed the KnowledgePanel®, that is representative of the US population. Members of the KnowledgePanel® are randomly recruited by telephone and mail surveys, and households are provided with access to the Internet and computer hardware if needed. Unlike other Internet research panels sampling only individuals with Internet access who volunteer for research, the KnowledgePanel® is based on a sampling frame which includes both listed and unlisted numbers, those without a landline telephone and is not limited to current Internet users or computer owners, and does not accept self-selected volunteers. As a result, it is a random, nationally-representative sample of the American population. At last count, over 350 working papers, conference presentations, published articles, and books have used Knowledge Networks’ panels, including the 2009 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, whose extensive results were featured in an entire volume of the Journal of Sexual Medicine—and prominently in the media—in 2010 ().There are some great advantages to such a study, and one of them is that it presents a more typical sample of kids growing up in homosexual homes:
These distinctions between the NFSS—a population-based sample—and small studies of planned gay and lesbian families nevertheless raise again the question of just how unrepresentative convenience samples of gay and lesbian parents actually are. The use of a probability sample reveals that the young-adult children of parents who have had same-sex relationships (in the NFSS) look less like the children of today’s stereotypic gay and lesbian couples—white, upper–middle class, well-educated, employed, and prosperous—than many studies have tacitly or explicitly portrayed. aptly notes that existing studies of lesbian and gay couples and their families have largely included “white, middle-class persons who are relatively ‘out’ in the gay community and who are living in urban areas,” while “working-class sexual minorities, racial or ethnic sexual minorities, sexual minorities who live in rural or isolated geographical areas” have been overlooked, understudied, and difficult to reach. analysis of Census data suggests that 37% of children in lesbian cohabiting households are Black or Hispanic. Among respondents in the NFSS who said their mother had a same-sex relationship, 43% are Black or Hispanic. In the NLLFS, by contrast, only 6% are Black or Hispanic.Table 2 is what got the author in trouble. It shows a variety of situations for these adult children ("Currently married", "Family received welfare growing up", "Currently on public assistance", "Thought recently about suicide"). Unsuprisingly, children of IBF (intact biological families) well outperformed most other situations, both heterosexual divorced and homosexual relationships. (Not all differences are statistically significant; look carefully for the bolded values.)
One particular data point confirms what I have read elsewhere: children of IBF were much less likely to be in the "Ever touched sexually by parent/adult" category: 2%, vs. 23% from lesbian mother homes, 6% from gay father homes, 3% for adoptees, 10% for those whose parents divorced late, 12% for those raised in stepfamilies, 10% for single parent heterosexual upbringing. (Bold indicates statistically significant difference from the IBF children.)
The study does not claim, nor do I, that gay and lesbian parents are going after their own kids. The problem is that the instability of non-IBF homes creates opportunities for men who are not the biological father to get access to kids who otherwise might not be so available. In addition, kids growing up in fatherless homes tend to look for approval from adult men, and this is easily manipulated by the Jerry Sanduskys of the world.
Those who want to see this study as some sort of conservative campaign to vilify homosexuality will need to explain why the study found that children growing up with lesbian mothers had generally much more obviously destructive outcomes than those growing up with gay fathers. You would think if this was a "draw the curves, then find the needed data points" exercise, both would be similarly criticized.