A controversial study into same-sex parenting that claimed to show that children of same-sex couples had worse outcomes has been dismissed as ‘bullsh-t’ by the professor assigned to evaluate the peer review process that lead to it being published.
The paper ‘How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study’ by University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus was published earlier this year by the journal Social Science Research.
But Social Science Research commissioned an internal audit into the study after its findings and methodology were widely criticized.
Southern Illinois University sociology professor and Social Science Research editorial board member Darren Sherkat examined how the paper had been handled and found that its peer review process had failed to identify significant problems which should have lead to the study being disqualified for publication.
Sherkat also found conflicts of interests among the reviewers, stating, ‘scholars who should have known better failed to recuse themselves from the review process.’
Sherkat found that three of the paper’s six reviewers had publicly opposed same-sex marriage and had some degree of personal connection with Regnerus.
Sherkat also criticized the definition of same-sex parents that Regnerus had used for the study.
Under the study’s criteria a woman was counted as a lesbian mother if she had ever had a same-sex relationship, regardless of how briefly or whether the child in question had been living in her home at the time of the relationship.
When asked by The Chronicle of Higher Education about the value of the study, Sherkat said, ‘It’s bullsh-t.’
Sherkat also wondered about the timing of the study and its financial backers.
‘There should be reflection about a conservative scholar garnering a very large grant from exceptionally conservative foundations to make incendiary arguments about the worthiness of LGBT parents and putting this out in time to politicize it before the 2012 United States presidential election,’ Sherkat wrote in his audit.
Regnerus had received a large grant from the Witherspoon Institute, a Princeton based conservative think tank that opposes same-sex marriage, to carry out the study.
However Sherkat did not find any problem with the editorial process that had lead to the paper being published in Social Science Research.