Higher Education
2:32 pm
Fri July 27, 2012

Audit: UT Gay Parenting Study 'Severely Flawed'

A study by University of Texas researcher Mark Regnerus that questioned the parenting abilities of gay couples is “severely flawed,” according to an internal audit by the scientific journal that published it, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

The highly critical audit, a draft of which was provided to The Chronicle by the journal’s editor, also cites conflicts of interest among the reviewers, and states that “scholars who should have known better failed to recuse themselves from the review process.”

The study was published in the journal Social Science Research.  A member of the journal’s editorial board, Southern Illinois University sociology professor Darren Sherkat, was assigned to examine the peer review process. His assessment was blunt.

“It’s bulls**t,” Sherkat told the Chronicle of Higher Education, adding that the study should never have been published. 

The research was funded by the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation, two socially conservative groups.

The Chronicle says Sherkat pointed to one problem that should have disqualified the paper immediately: its definition of a “lesbian mother.” Women who had a relationship with another woman at any point after having a child, regardless of the length and whether they raised the child together, was considered to be a lesbian mother.

When Regernus’ study was published in June, it was immediately seized upon by gay marriage opponents and  sparked a backlash from critics, even dividing some liberals.

Regenerus vigorously defended his research, as he did in this video interview with the Daily Texan.

The University of Texas has launched its own investigation into the study as a matter of “standard operating procedure,” UT Media Director Gary Susswein told The Horn. “Any allegation of scientific misconduct against a faculty member automatically triggers an inquiry.”