Same-Sex Parenting: The Child Maltreatment No One Mentions

Recently, Utah found it necessary to put a law into effect that allows “free-range parenting.” That is, parents are free to make the judgment that their children are, say, free to walk to the local park by themselves or to bike a couple of blocks away from home without child protective services showing up at their door or, worse, the police coming to arrest them for child neglect. That a law had to be passed to uphold parental authority about such things shows how outrageous the ruling perspectives on child abuse and neglect have become in recent decades, where the state is prepared to second-guess parents left and right and to routinely treat all kinds of innocent parental actions as child maltreatment.

It’s no surprise that in recent years, according to Department of HHS statistics, that upwards of 80 percent of reports of child abuse and neglect are unfounded. It’s interesting that while self-styled child advocates, their academic allies, and the sprawling child protective system (CPS) are so ready to find child maltreatment inside almost every family’s front door, they are silent about the harms to children from being brought up by same-sex (male homosexual or, more typically, lesbian) couples. Almost intuitively, the average person would think this to be a recipe for serious, perhaps life-altering, problems for such children. The research now coming out suggests that the average person’s instincts are indeed correct—even though the mainstream academic social science and related professional organizations, which long ago became apologists if not mouthpieces for the homosexualist movement, ignore or try to discredit or even suppress it.

Many are aware of University of Texas sociologist Dr. Mark Regnerus’s studies several years ago which indicated—he was careful to avoid sweeping conclusions—that, among other things, children reared in homes headed by same-sex parents were “more likely” to: have poor educational attainment, cohabit when they became adults, be sexually molested, have sexually transmitted diseases, smoke tobacco and marijuana, be on public assistance as adults, be in mental health counseling or therapy and suffer from depression, and get into trouble with the law. Regnerus’s careful research, not unexpectedly, was met by denunciation from mainstream social scientists, who claimed his research was flawed without even seriously examining his data. The peer-reviewed professional journal that published the results of his studies was attacked, and the charge made that its review procedure was flawed. He was even subjected to a “scientific misconduct” investigation by his university, which ultimately exonerated him.

The attack on Regnerus occurred simply because of the overwhelming pro-homosexualist bias of mainstream social science and the efforts of homosexualist organizations against him.

 

The research of Fr. D. Paul Sullins, Ph.D., an emeritus professor of sociology at The Catholic University of America who has been connected with the Marriage and Religion Research Institute at CUA and now the Ruth Institute, has confirmed and expanded on Regnerus’s earlier findings. I have known Fr. Sullins for many years, as he has been a fellow board member of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists and is also the organization’s chaplain. He was one of the Episcopal clergy who converted to Catholicism and under the special provision put in place by Pope John Paul II was ordained to the priesthood. Like Regnerus, he’s a careful and ethical researcher who aims for what social science scholarship is supposed to be about: discerning the truth.

Fr. Sullins has convincingly shown that it is the research of the mainstream social scientists who have sought to deny the harm of same-sex parenting that is flawed. Not only have the sample of people they studied been too small to truly examine the question, but they have studied only what he calls “conveniently available or selected groups of participants, usually parents recruited from homophile sources.” The result was a “strong bias toward positive findings.” At the same time, their writing has refused to address the contrary findings. These have been either “dismissed in footnotes on specious grounds or, more commonly, simply ignored.” Among the studies that they have ignored which showed “substantially higher rates of problems or functional deficiencies among children with same-sex parents,” Sullins tells us, have been those relying on “large statistically representative” samples from the Centers for Disease Control and the University of North Carolina’s National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health.

Sullins’s own research has shown the following. In comparison to children with opposite-sex parents, children in the care of same-sex couples, were: almost twice as likely to have a developmental disability; almost twice as likely to have had medical treatment for an emotional problem and three times as likely to have had medicine prescribed for a psychological condition in the past year before the study; ten times more likely to have been sexually touched by a parent or other adult and four times more likely to have been forced to have sex against their will; less likely, when reaching adolescence, to have romantic relationships or to see themselves in a future relationship involving pregnancy or marriage (which suggests that their situation influences them away from relationships with the opposite sex); twice as likely, when becoming adults, to suffer from depression and four times as likely to consider suicide; more likely to use tobacco and marijuana and to have been arrested and then pled guilty of a crime; and three times more likely to be unemployed, receiving public assistance, or if later married to have had adulterous relationships. By the time women who had grown up in same-sex headed households reached age thirty, they were only half as likely to be married or in a relationship lasting three or more years and only a third as likely to have ever been pregnant.

In his writing, Sullins also speaks about much earlier studies—before even Regnerus’s—which showed the harms of same-sex parenting and were also ignored by mainstream social science. He mentions Paul Cameron’s studies, which—confirmed by Sullins later—showed that children with same-sex parents were more likely to be sexually molested. Their households were also more likely to witness domestic violence and, unsurprisingly, the children were more likely to become homosexual themselves. If the harm-deniers could dismiss Cameron because he heads the Family Research Institute, which is concerned about issues that threaten the family as traditionally understood, they would be more hard-pressed to reject Sotirios Sarantakos. Sarantakos is a noted Australian sociologist and authority on research design and methods. Studying elementary school children, he found that those from same-sex led households suffered considerable educational and social deficiencies.

Like Regnerus, Sullins is careful to avoid sweeping or unsubstantiated conclusions. He says that as in other situations where there is not an intact family with two married opposite-sex parents—as when there is a divorce or cohabitation—“most children still turn out all right.” Nevertheless, the “primary harm” to children from same-sex parenting, as suggested by the research findings noted, is “developmental”—with consequences not apparent until at least early adulthood. He concludes that while we don’t yet know enough, it’s certain that “the idea of ‘no differences’ is clearly false.” Sullins’s cautious conclusions didn’t stop the mainstream social science organizations from making false claims that he had used faulty research methods and—as with Regnerus—the journals that he published his findings in had slipshod review procedures. In fact, Sullins published them in international medical journals, where he knew the standards for review are more rigorous than in mainline U.S. social science journals—but also where genuine objectivity, as opposed to ideology, still rules. An article in Mercator.Net about Sullins’s work explains the air-tightness of his research methods and also notes that the mainline social science journals have been strikingly silent about the review procedures used for the harm-denial articles they routinely run.

Even if further research makes the harm of same-sex parenting indisputable—which, to this social scientist, is virtually so already—don’t expect mainstream social science to accept it. Ideology has long-since replaced true scholarship there—they are blind followers masquerading as independent thinkers at the cutting edge. Also, don’t expect the CPS to start thinking that the damage caused to children by same-sex parenting—and certainly not the whole notion of same-sex parenting itself—qualifies as child maltreatment. The CPS’s leaders and operatives are formed by and most accept without much question the perspectives of mainstream social science—including its ideologically grounded biases. Most are trained in the social work field and where its mainstream was seen a few years ago when a cadre of homosexual alumni from my university pressured it to delete homosexuality from a list of behaviors to be studied in a course on deviant behavior by contacting the secular social work accrediting agency, which they knew would agree with them. Besides, the CPS is too busy persecuting parents for innocent, commonsensical, traditional parenting practices—routinely treating such things as simple spanking as child abuse and free-range parenting as neglect—to be concerned about the problems Regnerus, Sullins, and the others have identified.

Stephen M. Krason

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Stephen M. Krason's "Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic" column appears monthly (sometimes bi-monthly) in Crisis Magazine. He is Professor of Political Science and Legal Studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists. He holds a J.D. and Ph.D. (political science) and an M.A. in theology/religious education and is admitted to a number of law bars, including the U.S. Supreme Court. He is the author, most recently, of The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic (Transaction Publishers, 2012), and editor of three volumes: Child Abuse, Family Rights, and the Child Protective System (Scarecrow Press, 2013) and The Crisis of Religious Liberty (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014); and most recently, Challenging the Secular Culture: A Call to Christians (Franciscan University Press). His latest book is Catholicism and American Political Ideologies (Hamilton Books). He is also the author of a new novel, American Cincinnatus. The views expressed here are, of course, his own.

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