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A new study purporting to show that children raised by lesbian couples fare better than those in other families has been described as “inherently unreliable”.
The study, authored by Nanette Gartrell and Henny Bos, examines outcomes in teenagers who were raised from birth by lesbian mothers who used donor insemination. The 78 lesbian-raised children were compared with 93 teens raised by a mother and a father. Each group had a nearly equal number of boys and girls.
The reports, made by the mothers themselves, say teens raised by lesbian mothers "were rated significantly higher in social, school/academic, and total competence" measures, the authors said.
The lesbian-raised teens also scored "significantly lower" than the mom-and-dad-raised teens in "problem" categories, such as social behaviours, rule-breaking and acting out.
However, Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the US Family Research Council (FRC), laid out the major flaws with the research.
The data come from mothers' reports but don't include answers from teens or their teachers, he said. Furthermore, the study comprises a small number of lesbian families, who all volunteered for this study years ago. Therefore the sample is not random.
These may be especially committed parents, rather than representative of all lesbian families, Mr Sprigg said.
Moreover, several findings are "implausible," he added. For instance, the researchers also found "no differences" in whether a child's lesbian mothers separated (as 56 percent did) or stayed together, or whether the children knew the identities of their sperm-donor fathers. There were also no differences seen between lesbian-raised daughters or sons.
Brian Raum, senior legal counsel at the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) said: "This study is inherently unreliable for the very same reasons that other same-sex parenting studies are unreliable. ... [I]t does not use a random sample, the sample is very small and the data relied upon is from self-reporting [by mothers] of children's behavior."
Meanwhile, in the US Congress, Rep. Pete Stark, a California Democrat, and 25 co-sponsors have introduced a bill to restrict federal funding to states that "discriminate" on the basis of "sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status" in foster care or adoption.
The Stark bill takes aim at Florida, which bans gay adoption; Mississippi, which doesn't allow "same gender" couples to adopt; Utah, which doesn't allow unmarried couples to adopt; and a voter-passed measure in Arkansas that is similar to Utah's policy.
The Arkansas measure was recently thrown out by a trial court judge, but supporters have said they would appeal the decision.