Gay Parents | Mark Regnerus | News | Texas

U. of Texas Investigating Mark Regnerus for Scientific Misconduct Over Flawed, Anti-Gay Parenting 'Study'

The University of Texas is investigating Professor Mark Regnerus after outrage over what GLAAD called a "flawed, misleading, and scientifically unsound paper that seeks to disparage lesbian and gay parents". Following outrage over the article, New Civil Rights Movement blogger Scott Rose sent a letter to the University which appears to have prompted the investigation.

RegnerusThe Austin Statesman reports:

Regnerus declined to comment on the inquiry but said that his study followed the standard protocol of scholarly research.

"A team consisting of leading family researchers was involved in developing the research protocol," Regnerus wrote in an email. "This academic team merged scholars across disciplines and ideological lines in a spirit of civility and reasoned inquiry, and the protocol developed by this team was subsequently approved by the University of Texas' Institutional Review Board."

"Normal procedures were followed for obtaining outside support, as many researchers do," he wrote.

The University of Texas defines scientific misconduct as "fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism" and "practices that seriously deviate from ethical standards."

A panel of UT professors is conducting the inquiry, and the process will be completed within 60 days of the complaint, said Gary Susswein, a UT spokesman. Ultimately, if a university investigation finds that Regnerus' work constitutes scientific misconduct, Provost Steven Leslie would decide how the administration will proceed, Susswein said.

The unsound study, picked up widely in media and trumpeted by anti-gay groups. appeared to overturn three decades of research into families with same-sex parents.

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  1. Any "study" that "Rick" defends is obviously nothing more than homophobic propaganda.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jul 12, 2012 1:48:23 PM

  2. I think it is unlikely that Regnerus will be in too much trouble, although he may get a reprimand for this poor methodology. The only way I could see something more serious is if the University discovers that Regnerus and his associates deliberately manipulated the data - particularly if they planned to do so before analyzing the data - to create these pseudo-"gay parents" groups out of the available population. That would be a violation of academic integrity, while just being sloppy, which is all that can be proven at this time about Regnerus, is not.

    Posted by: CPT_Doom | Jul 12, 2012 1:58:41 PM

  3. @Jamal

    "It is the other way around. Mark Regnerus' study will backfire on him. Scott Brown's request for investigation by UofT into the faulty methodology of Regnerus will not.

    I might suggest that you "google" this: "faulty research study by Mark Regnerus". Then, spend the rest of the day reading just how faulty that study was."

    I'm aware how faulty the study was in methodology. However, bad methodology does not entail scientific misconduct. We may have bad methodologies because we don't have the resources to have a better methodology, don't have the knowledge of better methodologies, or are shaping our methodology/anomaly hunting to support our hypothesis. None of these are misconduct so long as the methodology and data open and honestly reported in the study. Bad science in some of these cases, yes, but not misconduct.

    "It was a thinly-veiled attempt by a very biased "professor" using funds and supplementary "research" from biased sources who had an agenda to use the faulty conclusions of that research to justify a biased point-of-view."

    Funding sources, as with all conflicts of interest (COI,) should raise red flags on a study, but are not enough to dismiss a study. A study can still use very good methodologies, but have funding sources that want a desired conclusion. It is not enough to just say COI and throw away a study, as we'd do that with every study published. All studies have COI, whether it is trying to meet publication requirements for a degree/tenure, secure future grant money by having a large publication history, we have a hypothesis we'd like to confirm, as well as any number of cognitive biases that good studies will try and weed out.

    As for using research from biased sources. The same applies. That research should be accepted or rejected on its merits, not who wrote it. If it had a sound methodology and conclusions drawn from it are sound, then it should be accepted.

    "The Regnerus study was amateur, unprofessional and very suspect.

    Worse, it's conclusions were unequivocally wrong about "gay parenting"."

    I agree the conclusions did not follow from the data or methodology. However, many scientists take liberty with their conclusions. When evaluating scientific articles I usually try and ignore the abstract, introduction, and conclusions sections. Methodology, results and sometimes discussion are the important bits.

    I agree with your main point, that this does not bode well for Regnerus. Having a poorly conducted study does not paint him as a good researcher. However, to allege misconduct there must be some form of false reporting or data tampering. Whether in data, representation of authorship, or how the methodology was performed.

    It's quite possible that he received funds under pressure to produce certain results, and then went anomaly hunting and then reported a methodology that he didn't actually employ. This would be misconduct. However, if he performed his study as written, with the data reported, and did not knowingly exclude or tamper with the data; he was not in error of performing scientific misconduct, but just performing bad science. There are, of course, other ethical considerations for scientific misconduct (such as animal treatment, ghost writing) that don't apply here. However, I must stress a study's funding sources are not enough for scientific misconduct.

    I am reading Scott's articles now as this was promised to contain the misconduct I've missed so far in edifying myself on this study.

    Posted by: mkandefer | Jul 12, 2012 2:03:59 PM

  4. Most of these comments remind me why I've stopped commenting as often. When exactly did I suggest that UT is a bad system? I went to a state school that recently had a huge scandal, but like any company or other major entity it tried to cover itself with lies. It failed. Usually does because insiders will talk for fear of lawsuits or professional damage, and there are boards filled with powerful people who won't risk collateral damage for not revealing information. Duh.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jul 12, 2012 2:42:38 PM

  5. Yes, why don't we assume that despite the biased funding sources, despite the ideological bias of Regnerus's previous work, despite the fact that the broad conclusion of the report written by the author is not supported by the actual study, that whatever faults there are in the study and its methodology and conclusion are purely accidental!

    It looks like a duck
    It walks like a duck
    It quacks like a duck
    It has webbed feet like a duck
    It swims like a duck

    But by all means let's not jump to any hasty conclusions that it's not really a zebra!

    Posted by: Caliban | Jul 12, 2012 3:01:52 PM

  6. There is a further problem that is a possible ethics violation here -- the issue of peer review. While the average time for articles to be reviewed from SSR is almost a year, this "study" supposedly zoomed through two rounds of review in less than six weeks. Responsible peer reviewing would have prevented this article from being published (I have a Ph.D. in sociology and, believe me, this methodology wouldn't have made it through a first year grad school methods class...) The speed with which this paper was supposedly reviewed have led some to ask if it was legitimately peer-reviewed, which seems almost inconceivable. If there was collusion between Regnerus and the journal editor, we are talking about two careers that are dead. Or should be.

    Posted by: kit | Jul 12, 2012 3:07:29 PM

  7. I think there is some real misconduct here, especially in regards to the funding, which may have been dependent on coming up with conclusions that the study does not warrant. Also with the promotion of the study. We should be grateful to Scott Rose for doing some real research in exposing the faults of the story. Unfortunately, Rose has made some crazy allegations (for example, accusing John Corvino of somehow being implicated in the study because he has collaborated with Maggie Gallagher--to refute her ideas--and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Texas). Rose's reckless and silly accusations detract from the real substance of many of his charges. I wish a real sociologist who understands academia was making this complaint. Rose is right about many things. I hope that the people who investigate the complaint will see beyond the silliness of some of the charges and focus on the real misconduct committed by Regnerus, Robert George, et al.

    Posted by: Jay | Jul 12, 2012 3:20:51 PM

  8. "pretending that we are no more promiscuous than heterosexuals"

    Speak for yourself Rick. I happily spent 28 years with just one man.

    Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | Jul 12, 2012 3:51:12 PM

  9. Thank you Scott for the clarification. It's obvious we have many self loathing homosexuals that visit this site and some regular old run of the mill bigots who have some f'ed up desire to belittle and degrade people. Any study that says gay parents are "worse" than other parents or not the ideal is complete and utter BS. Thanks again for exposing the haters.

    Posted by: Bobby | Jul 12, 2012 4:56:46 PM

  10. I've just about stopped coming to this site because of Rick and Kiwi. I think some limits need to be in place about how many posting you can put up. These two get on here and go on, and on, and on.

    Posted by: JellyBean | Jul 12, 2012 5:02:50 PM

  11. The fact is that Regnerus compromised the ethics and standards of the scientific community when he produced a garbage study for the purpose of manipulating political opinion
    Why would someone sacrifice their name and reputation by doing something so immoral and against the very essence of science?
    Money, of course. I hope your scientific career was worth it Regnerus because you just lost any and all credibility.
    Not only should U of T fire him for that gross propaganda he produced, they should sue him for tarnishing their name.

    Posted by: Mk Ultra | Jul 12, 2012 5:54:27 PM

  12. Whatever the investigation concludes, it has already been quite clearly established that the study purported to look at gay parenting but didn't actually study gay parents. Its conclusions were really about broken homes, but it's been labeled by the right (logically, given the funding sources) as a big rebuttal to all the solid studies demonstrating that children of same-sex headed households thrive just as much as those of opposite-sex headed households. It wasn't. It was a sham.

    Posted by: Ernie | Jul 12, 2012 5:54:31 PM

  13. Ah, yes...self-hating Rick is here to troll and pretend that he knows what he's talking about. Oh, how reasonable to say that we need to be self-reflective and not be afraid of "truth."

    Except that none of what he says is true. It is nothing more than a massive case of projection of his own self-loathing onto others. He sees other people being happy and productive and cannot fathom how that can possibly be. So rather than simply accept that yes, there are people who do not conform to his vision of "masculinity" (a standard he knows he can never achieve) and yet still share with him the trait of being gay and even worse are happy and healthy, he insists that they share the shame he carries within himself for living as proud *men* outside of that standard.

    Note the insistence on gay men being promiscuous. Depsite the fact that all studies show that gay people are no more promiscuous than straight people, he assumes that it is true.

    You need to stop paying attention to the failures you perceive in other people and start paying attention to your own, Rick. You will never be able to find peace with yourself until you do.

    Notice that he doesn't even bother to acquaint himself with the facts of this particular case. The evidence that we have is found in the most cursory examination of the way in which this study came about. You did read that information before commenting, didn't you? You did learn how the study was generated, yes? How the money was shuttled around in an attempt to hide its source, yes?

    You did read the study, didn't you?

    It would appear that you are guilty of the very thing you are whining about: You have been faced with a political situation that makes you uncomfortable and rather than examining why you are having a hard time handling the truth, you lash out against those that have pointed it out to you.

    Quick: Without looking anything up, how did this study define a "Gay Father" or a "Lesbian Mother"? What was the control group these people were compared against? Is there any other trait the "GF" and "LM" group shares that the control group does not that might possibly be a reason for the outcomes seen in the study?

    Does the phrase, "apples and oranges," mean anything to you?

    Posted by: Rrhain | Jul 12, 2012 6:08:01 PM

  14. @Caliban,

    Please. Where did I say his study wasn't a joke? I simply commented on another post that mocked U of T gay study because it's located in Texas.





    Some of the total sh*t you'll be called by the usual suspects in the gay so-called community if dare question their POV. How dare a gay man or lesbian have their own POV or original thought! How dare they stray from the, sorry, community.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jul 12, 2012 7:08:39 PM

  15. @ David Ehrenstein,

    David, what's your POV on racist Jewish ideology / dogma, circumcision / sex organ mutilation of boys, and rabbis orally going down on boys? I didn't see you post anything on this subject over the past week or so.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jul 12, 2012 7:11:46 PM

  16. Regenerus condemned himself. He makes it clear that his methodology was insufficient to identify a statistically significant number of children actually raised by gay couples -- and explains that it would cost so much more than his study's budget to find enough of them to study -- then he proceeds to jigger the study to "find" enough individuals to compare to the straight, intact families.

    Posted by: BobN | Jul 12, 2012 8:30:11 PM

  17. he's a filthy scum that prides himself on lying.

    Posted by: USC Trojan Fan | Jul 12, 2012 9:06:54 PM

  18. Thank you Scott. You know teenagers will always end up hating their parents for some reason. Don't rain on these queer fantasies of parenthood - which probably end at age 11. If only this could be conducted with animals and not real humans. These gays are an angry group. That's their natural state I gather.

    Posted by: Peter | Jul 13, 2012 12:44:52 AM

  19. Scott Rose is a BLOGGER with no credibility! How DARE the UT investigate based on a blogger's (?!?) thinly-veiled bias against anyone who has a differing stance on the pro-gay movement! People are SICK of them pushing their lifestyle on everyone! Some gay people are tired of the pro-gay militants! It is just TOO MUCH!!!!!!!!

    Posted by: Mercy | Jul 14, 2012 11:43:26 AM

  20. @Mercy, you're being dishonest, but that's no surprise as we've come to expect it from your ilk. Regnerus and his study aren't being investigated due to Scott Rose or any other single person, blogger, or academic. Mark Regnerus and his study are being investigated because his methodology and conclusions have been almost UNIVERSALLY condemned by other academics in his discipline and many professional organizations. The whole thing stinks to high heaven and they want to know if Regnerus did it deliberately or if he's just a terrible researcher.

    Posted by: Caliban | Jul 14, 2012 12:28:37 PM

  21. What proof exists for the opinion givers on this blog to conclude that anyone opposed to same-sex marriage and same-sex parenting of children is "anti-gay"?
    What is the methodology that has been used to reach this conclusion?
    Being opposed to teens bullying one another or to children thieving from one another could never be proof that a person holding to such a moral position is acting as an "anti-child."
    Being supportive of children being raised, as far as is possible - certainly with the Law of a nation to back it, by the biological mother and father of the child is not being "anti-gay."
    If there is any "anti" to be enshrined/ruled against in Law as a "right" it should be to uphold foundational principles and in this case, that principle is that a person could and should never be accused of being "anti-gay" for opposing the exception being made the rule, or an equivalent of such.

    Posted by: Fr Mick Mac Andrew | Jul 18, 2012 10:59:10 PM

  22. I read Mr. Regnerus' work. I don't have any axe to grind one way or another. I am straight, married, educated more than most, and fiscally conservative. But from the perspective of decency and frankly, public health and welfare, I support gay marriage rights and of course, civil rights protections for gay and transgender people.

    I am disturbed by the emotionalism of Mr. Rose. A critical reading of the study, which frankly explicates its flaws openly, leads me to a sensible conclusion. The mere fact that the most important relevant data set is small - in fact - way small - that being the offspring of stable gay committed parents - shows just how crucial it is for us to adopt an open and accepting approach towards gay marriage and homosexuality in general. Many of the offspring studied were products of busted heterosexual relationships. This is not surprising since for decades gay people were compelled to live in the shadows (a problem which is still with us), and many of these putative heterosexual relationships were highly unlikely not to succeed. And it is further not at all surprising that children of divorce or unstable homes do not do nearly as well, no matter the sexual orientation of the parents. Yes, I get it - gay people are fairly emotional about the way they are treated, and Regnerus's historically based study is taken (wrongly) as a personal attack, especially when groups like the Family Research Council seriously misconstrue Regnerus's work. But the conclusions I draw from a critical reading of the piece is not nearly as negative (and again, I do not have the emotional baggage of some others) as many others. I think the piece helpful, because, look, it brings home to me the importance of raising children in stable, loving relationships. And I am absolutely convinced that gay people more than others support this principle (they know what challenges and troubles in childhood can later bring). A truly critical reading (and not one that is spoon fed by the liberal academic echo chamber) points in a different direction. Putting gay people in the shadows and not letting them be open and not having a community to accept them just as with anyone else has had a negative effect on them and their offspring. Hardly a shock, but still a necessary conclusion in this sociological field. Given the burdens gay people have gone through, the notion that offspring of gay parents are "better off" (as some studies in the echo chamber reflect) doesn't make intuitive sense. Going forward, let's help people be in situations where they can be in caring relationships, and if they want children, make certain they are planned, wanted, and susceptible to being developed and cared for properly. This must apply to all adults, straight or gay. Permitting gay people to be married makes eminent sense in this regard, and assertions like this to my mind are much more persuasive than calling people bigots. And certainly more helpful than a court of academic inquiry, which is nothing more than a feel good exercise to cement seams in the echo chamber.

    Posted by: Mark M | Aug 4, 2012 11:42:03 AM

  23. As one who knows dozens of children raised in gay-parent homes the reality I've experienced is this: they're among the most well-adjusted children I've ever met as they're raised with knowledge and understanding of ACTUAL realities, not some specious and patently-false *idea* of The Way Things Are (or are Supposed To Be).

    We're talking about children raised free from an archaic "idea" of family and in the actual reality of what family is, and can and should be. the family is not based on something suitable merely for a picture frame in a rockwell-esque home, but on the reality of dynamics, understandings and bonds.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Aug 4, 2012 12:03:13 PM

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