Are lesbian couples better for kids than heterosexual couples?

Apparently, lesbian couples can be as good at parenting children as traditional married couples. That was the conclusion of a new study anyway. Who authored it, and who funded it?


Several media outlets including CNN, Time magazine, Reuters and US News and World Report, have promoted the US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study, which claims children raised by lesbian parents are “psychologically well-adjusted” and have “fewer behavioral problems” than children raised by heterosexual parents.

Of those four outlets, however, only Reuters reported that the author of the study, Dr. Nanette Gartrell, is herself a lesbian. According to the New York Times Gartrell wed her partner, Dee Mosbacher, in 2005.

Seven out of nine groups that provided funding for the study are gay advocacy groups, including the Gill Foundation and the Gay Lesbian Medical Association. Reuters, Time and U.S. News and World Report did not include the sources of funding for the study.

[…]The problem with many studies regarding children of gay parents, according to the late Steven Nock in a 2004 National Public Radio interview, is that they rely on “self-recruited” subjects. The question, Nock said, is “whether or not people who volunteer to participate in studies resemble the sort who do not.”

Gartrell’s study reportedly recruited its 78 subject couples “through announcements in bookstores, lesbian events and newspapers” in Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, according to CNN.

So already we should be on guard.

But there’s more! Here’s the methodological problem with the study: (H/T ECM)

In a letter published online in Pediatrics, Professor Walter Schumm, who has served as an expert witness for the State of Florida in a trial concerning gay adoption, points out, “at least 67 per cent of the mothers in the [lesbian family study] had at least a college education compared to approximately 28 per cent of women of similar age in US Census data” so that the effects seen could be partly due to higher levels of education rather than “gender” per se.

Another letter points out that ethnicity and region of residence also differ considerably between the two groups, with the control group having “many times more minorities and many more children from the South” of the US. For example, around 68 per cent of the controls were “white/Caucasian” compared with 93 per cent of the study group. That writer expresses surprise that there was no attempt to adjust the results for these differences, and that the study was accepted all the same by Pediatrics — the journal of the country’s leading professional group.

So this study is as reliable as East Anglia studies on man-made global warming. But a lot of people in the media will cite it anyway, because it sends the right message. It sends the message that people who oppose same-sex marriage are ignorant bigots and that fathers are totally unnecessary for the development of children.

And that’s what the elites in media, education and government want people to believe. They want that view to be made into law and reflected in public policy. And they don’t really care if children are raised without fathers, just like they don’t care if unborn children are killed in the womb. Because adult happiness is more important than children’s well-being.

Here is my previous post explaining how same-sex couples differ from traditional couples.

9 thoughts on “Are lesbian couples better for kids than heterosexual couples?”

  1. Funny, I just added the word “studies” a few days ago to The New World Order Dictionary after seeing someone use the words “studies show” to support their take on some nonsense. There was a time, I like to think anyway, when science was curious. It would seem now to exist, at least in the social sciences (which now of coarse encompasses GW), only to prove by nook or crook what closed minds already know.


  2. Studies show that enough exposure to CNN and all, will lead to the numbing of the brain… proving the theory that if you don’t use it, you will lose it.

    OK, not really. Just made that up. But it sure works well in a heated debate. No need for proof, just the words “studies show…” followed by “I’m right and you are wrong.” :)


  3. This is like Elizabeth Taylor going before Congress and assuring the world that AIDS affects heterosexuals as much as, er, anybody else. Reality has a way of rising up and biting leftists/liberals.


  4. Not to spoil the slating of good science, here, but the socioeconomic confounders you guys are after simply don’t exist. The study in question didn’t compare well educated affluent lesbians to an index out of the US Census, but a similarly recruited control group – a control group which, by the way, showed an even *higher* socioeconomic status than that of the Lesbians. (see Table 1 of the paper)

    Furthermore, the study is *prospective*. That is, these couples were selected pre-conception. So the skew of only good lesbian parents volunteering because they’d know their kids would score well doesn’t exist (and attrition is exceptionally low). There is an issue of selection with the initial couples (probably affluent or generally very well balanced people would want to or have time to do these interviews over seventeen years), but a similar selection effect applies to the controls.

    The authors recognise this, and they also note that they were unable to match by race and residence. These are not lethal, and understandable given the stigma attached to lesbianism or lesbian parenting in the 1980s-1990s. In short, this is very good work – the peer reviewers of a top journal in the field agreed. At the very least it supports the idea that gay parenting need not be worse vis-a-vis straight parenting (which is, by the way, the view already held by the professional bodies of child psychologists, psychiatrists, family physicians etc. etc. etc. Don’t tell me, the evil liberal conspiracy!)

    P.S. The authors state the funding sources had no role in the planning or the execution of the study. Given how often you guys cite non peer-reviewed research from right wing think tanks like the FRC, the Ruth Institute, etc. etc. without similar criticism (as far as I can tell, because its pandering to your preconceptions), forgive me for wondering who’s the biased one here.


  5. Although we should definitely look at who funded and performed the research, if the methodology is appropriate, we can’t assume that the research is bad. After all, with a lot of sociological questions, there are few “neutral observers.” Most people who research the effects of physical abuse are personally against physical abuse, but that does not mean that no research on physical abuse can be valid. We just have to look at their methodology and their bodies of work and wait for other researchers to do similar studies.

    Much research would never be possible without funding from interested parties (in my field, for example, pesticide companies often fund research on the effects of spraying); scientists still often present results that counter the desires of the funding agency.

    My off-the-cuff thoughts on this study –

    The positive effects on kids may have been due to having more time with female caregivers than kids in heterosexual homes. In our society, many people live far from family and therefore have little access to aunts, grandmothers, etc. Having another woman in the home may counter some of that lack. However, there are some fairly severe drawbacks to the lack of male input in a child’s life, and they may not manifest clearly until after 17 (the age of the evaluation of the kids in the study).

    I would also be interested to know whether work patterns differed among the two types of couples studied – whether there are differences in the frequency of “stay-at-home moms.” It seems to me that that could make a difference, as well.

    Maybe the optimum situation is one in which there are multiple female caregivers AND a strong male parent – such as when a married couple has extended family close at hand. This study wasn’t designed to evaluate that, of course, but it is an interesting study.


  6. “[The study] claims children raised by lesbian parents are “psychologically well-adjusted” and have “fewer behavioral problems” than children raised by heterosexual parents.”

    It would be interesting to know exactly what is meant by “psychologically well-adjusted” as it pertains to this study and its conclusions. There would seem to be a lot of room for subjectivism and confirmation bias in these sorts of studies.


    1. yes, where could one find that information? oh maybe, i don’t know, in the report????? pfft. it explains all of that in the report.


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