Media lauds suspect “study” on same-sex parenting

Late yesterday afternoon, a reporter from Channel 27 in Madison called our office and wanted a comment on a story about a study that was released recently supposedly showing that  children conceived through “sperm donors” with lesbian parents excel in comparison to their counterparts in heterosexual families.  We told the reporter that we had not seen the study and were not in a position to comment.

Channel 27 ran the story last night.  Meanwhile, we did our research–with superb help from our great friends and associates at Focus on the Family (in this instance, a blogger/policy expert for Focus’s CitizenLink) and Family Research Council (Tony Perkin’s Washington Update).  Here’s some of what we have found:

  • The study was published in the journal Pediatrics and done by the Williams Institute (also referred to at times as the UCLA Foundation), an organization dedicated to advancing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) agenda.   It is heavily funded by the Gill Foundation, a foundation that exclusively supports LGBT efforts.  Tim Gill is an open homosexual who made his fortune in the software industry (Quark) and is now giving his time and money to promoting homosexuality through his foundation and through his political work in state government across the country (e.g., flipping Wisconsin’s State Assembly in 2008).
  • The study’s sample  is not random, is not representative, and is very small. (Lesbian mothers volunteered, and represented only the following geographic areas:  Boston, Washington, D.C., San Francisco.)
  • The data were gathered essentially from the mothers themselves and from interviews and questionnaires completed by the children, making the data highly suspect.   (Really.  I”m not making this up.  Quoting from page 1 of the study itself, under heading “Results”:  “According to their mothers’ reports…” )
  • The assumptions are faulty.  They assume two mothers does not affect children; any behavioral or psychosocial problems are attributed to “stigmatization.”
  • The study basically says men are unnecessary in parenting, in spite of what research continues to show is in the best interest of children–to be reared by their married mother and father.
  • The study ignores (hardly surprising) research released last week that shows that children conceived through “sperm donation” have some significant issues and such children who are in the homes of two lesbian women reported that, among other things, they believe it is wrong to intentionally conceive a fatherless child.

You be the judge.  Watch what Channel 27 did with the story–and see if you think they lauded the study or handled it for what it really is–pretty laughable because of its shoddy scientific approach.  But that happens when you set out to do “research” that proves your point.

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3 comments on “Media lauds suspect “study” on same-sex parenting

  1. Mike says:

    I very much appreciate the research that has gone into your review of this study. And while some of your points (like who funds the study) may warrant some further scrutiny of the study, there are some points you make that I’d like to challenge.

    For example, Pediatrics is in fact a peer-reviewed publication, one where the research is reviewed by at least three leading experts in the various fields, several times each, before the research is published. It is unlikely that Pediatrics would publish research that was not up to today’s rigorous scientific standards, considering the defense of its reputation as a legitimate scientific journal. Also, per Pediatrics, all aspects of the manuscript are required to be prepared according to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) requirements.

    You say that the study is not random and also very small. This research had 78 families under study, which is not large, but not small, and does not discount its significance. Although I don’t understand your comment about how the study is not random though. Is it because it was conducted in only three cities?

    You seem to think that data that was “According to their mother’s reports…” is not necessarily scientific. You may have read the report but you should mention that, according to the study, “Adolescent well-being was assessed by the parental report of Achenbach’s CBCL/6 –18, which is known for its reliability, internal consistency, and factor structure.” So, it’s not simply asking a mother how well adjusted her children are. There are very specific factors which are measured, factors which, taken together, have been found reliable in countless other studies.

    I reviewed the study that assessed the worries of children of sperm donors and the same argument you make about the lesbian mother study needs to be made about that one: by whom it is funded; in this case by The Institute for American Values, an organization that is invested in conservative values. But the most notable issue with that study is that the authors state, and I quote, “Meanwhile, compared to those born to single mothers or heterosexual couples, those born to lesbian couples seem overall to be somewhat less curious about their absent biological father, and somewhat less likely to report that they are hurting.” Also, the authors of the study mention that it may very well be the secrecy of the sperm donation process that may be causing the children to worry. But most tellingly, a significant majority of kids in that study described themselves in positive or neutral terms, using the words “Special”, “Cool”, “Not a big deal”, “Proud”, “Wanted”. Apparently the worry that your excerpt describes isn’t causing those kids to lose much figurative sleep. There’s a lot more in that study that could be picked apart, but there’s only so much time.

  2. The My Daddy’s Name is Donor study, released by the Commission on Parenthood’s Future and published by the Institute for American Values, found that about 40 percent of donor offspring said that being conceived by sperm donor was “not a big deal” to them. Far smaller numbers reported feeling, at age 15 or currently, “special,” “cool,” “proud,” etc.

    Meanwhile, two-thirds said their sperm donor is half of who they are, about half were disturbed that money was involved in their conception, and they are far more likely than the adopted to say that it hurts to see their friends with biological fathers and mothers. The donor offspring, even with controls, are about twice as likely as those raised by biological parents to have struggled with substance abuse or delinquency, and about 1.5 times as likely to struggle wtih depression.

    To see the full study, with a 140 page pdf available free online, please visit FamilyScholars.org

    My thanks,
    Elizabeth Marquardt
    co-investigator, My Daddy’s Name is Donor

  3. William N. Platta says:

    I know. The velvet hand with which you refuted Mike’s rather contorted verbosity speaks volumes of your Christian love for those who want desperately to find support for their lifestyle choice–and it is a choice. How these people can continually resort to the “peer-reviewed” argument when virtually everyone who cares to examine it understands the review process is in the hands of people who have left objective science behind long ago I can’t conceive.(May I reference the Creation/Evolution debate, or ClimateGate, or Alfred Kinsey’s ridiculous “research” charade?) It is very sad that we have been lied to so long that we’ve abandoned our God-given common sense to people with PhD’s often from institutions that have undergone such drastic revisions of standards of “scholarship” they would be unrecognizable by those who passed through those same institutions 40-50 years ago.

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