University Of Texas Will No Longer Investigate Mark Regnerus’s Gay Parent Study

RegnerusMark Regnerus, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, found fame earlier this summer by publishing a study on what he called "new family structures."

In that study, Regnerus claimed children raised by same-sex couples were more depressed, more likely to cheat on a partner and smoked more pot than kids raised in a so-called "traditional household".

According to most people with level heads and an understanding of scientific process, Regnerus' work amouned to little more than junk science, and garnered Regnerus scores of criticism and the launch of an official investigation by the university into his methodology. Now the university is calling the whole thing off, saying there is not enough evidence of bias or misdirection to require further inquiry.

From the school's official announcement:

After consulting with a four-member advisory panel composed of senior university faculty members, the Office of the Vice President for Research concluded in a report on Aug. 24 that there is insufficient evidence to warrant an investigation.

As part of the inquiry, the university hired Dr. Alan Price to ensure that the inquiry was conducted appropriately and fairly. Price, a private consultant, is former associate director of the Office of Research Integrity in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Price found that the inquiry was handled in a manner consistent with university policy and indicated the process was “also consistent with federal regulatory requirements of inquiries into research misconduct.”

As with much university research, Regnerus’ New Family Structures Study touches on a controversial and highly personal issue that is currently being debated by society at large. The university expects the scholarly community will continue to evaluate and report on the findings of the Regnerus article and supports such discussion.

Sounds like they're basically supporting his entire thesis: gays make lousy parents.

Comments

  1. Hank says

    What a crock. Well UT I would say this certainly tarnishes your reputation. Ill-conceived, inaccurate and poorly researched biblical biased drivel – passed off as accepted research. Bought and paid for by right wing evangelicals. Wonder if the report said the world was flat or that the planets circled the Earth would be accepted too. Same dumb science…

  2. ap says

    “Sounds like they’re basically supporting his entire thesis: gays make lousy parents.”

    Really? How does one draw THAT conclusion?
    Plenty of LGBT supportive people were very concerned that a University was investigating a study because of its findings, with no concerns about human subjects protocol or related issues.

    The way to respond to studies like this is point out their flaws and do better studies. Not fire the professors because you disagree with their conclusions or methodologies.

  3. CHAD says

    And heterosexuals all make wonderful parents? Honey Booboo anyone? Give me a break, if the children of gay parents are depressed, its because society tells them their families are worthless and hell bound.

  4. Brendan says

    I’m a proud alum of The University of Texas, and while I can’t say that I’m thrilled with this news, I don’t think it’s in the least bit accurate to say that the University is “basically supporting [Regnerus’] entire thesis: gays make lousy parents.” Seems like a bit of conjecture on the part of Towleroad.

  5. Bingo says

    They’re not supporting his research at all. It’s just a statement that there’s no evidence his research was corrupt.

    It’s not not an assessment if the research. Regnerus has already said its not right to use his work as a study of gay parenting.

  6. rayrayj says

    UT is a publicly funded university in Texas. This allows the university to avoid pissing off their base by letting others make the point that the research so flawed as to make the authors conclusions useless. I wonder if Dr./Mr. Regenerus is tenured and if not what this will do to his academic career at UT.

  7. Andy says

    Does this mean UT thinks the experiments were conducted properly and without bias? Or is it saying that the research and experimentation were faulty, BUT it was not due to bias or animus against gay people??

  8. Charlie says

    “most people with level heads and an understanding of scientific process” would not draw the conclusion that this is “basically supporting his entire thesis: gays make lousy parents.” It is supporting the thesis that there was no scientific misconduct.

  9. says

    The obvious flaw of the right-wing funded study (by a right-wing researcher), regardless of whether an investigation takes place, is that it didn’t look at children raised by same-sex couples. It looked at children who had a parent that had had some kind of same-sex relationship. The conclusion had nothing to do with children raised in stable gay parented families, and studies have consistently shown that children of such parents do every bit as well as children raised in stable straight parented families. The conclusion should be that broken homes can harm children, whether those homes are headed by straight or gay parents.

  10. V-8 says

    as an academic I can say, from my experience, what will really count is what his peers at large (in his field of research, outside his institution) will think of his work, and not what his home-base thinks… as it’s been stated, the UT investigation concluded they did not have enough evidence, not that the research was valid… he will probably not have any citations out of that, or maybe citations that are negative toward what he’s done….

    one other thing, had UT concluded his research was valid or not, that for me would have been way more problematic, because that would be a judgment call that could affect his (and therefore everyone’s) academic freedom, which is so under attack right now it is not funny…

    last but not least, what if his research is right? what if gay parenting is not so great? r we really to believe that ALL parenting must be good, and by good I mean following someone’s prescribed notion of what good is? from the outside many would see my parents as not so great, somewhat detached, overly critical, emotional and yet not too affectionate, too social, etc… not loving in public at all… but we r all still very close (I’m the youngest at 38) and the children r all doing well, living life with accomplishments etc… families work out what works for them, and like anything else, there r different formulas to what is acceptable… defining good parenting is as problematic as defining good marriage….

  11. BZ says

    There are two levels of investigation. The first is an evaluation of the quality of the peer review process; that belongs to the journal, and they’ve already conducted it and found that the process was flawed and the paper should not have been published.

    The second level of investigation is the one conducted by the university, and it focuses not on the quality of the paper or the journal’s peer review process but rather whether Regnerus engaged in academic misconduct like misappropriating funds from his research grant, violating his human subjects protocol, plagarism, or stealing credit for the work of others. Crappy though this study may be, there is no evidence that Regnerus engaged in this second type of misconduct, and the university appropriately discontinued the investigation for lack of evidence.

  12. Hue-Man says

    UT profs should be irate. EVERYTHING produced by UT is now suspect – “scholarly” research from UT is junk, regardless of which rotten apple generated it. On the upside, UT didn’t lose any of their hate-filled donors’ money. Crackpots know where they will be welcomed with open arms – expect more in-depth studies about poor people, Hispanics, African-Americans, liberals, women. You know what this “research” will prove.

  13. mkandefer says

    “The second level of investigation is the one conducted by the university, and it focuses not on the quality of the paper or the journal’s peer review process but rather whether Regnerus engaged in academic misconduct like misappropriating funds from his research grant, violating his human subjects protocol, plagarism, or stealing credit for the work of others. Crappy though this study may be, there is no evidence that Regnerus engaged in this second type of misconduct, and the university appropriately discontinued the investigation for lack of evidence.”

    Exactly. I expected the scientific misconduct charges against Regnerus’ study to be in vain as the criticisms leveraged against it were not of fabricated data or methods, but that the methods were poor and could not support what was described in the introduction as the intent of the study. Bad science yes, but not misconduct.

    I will note that the discussion/conclusion of the study was carefully worded in a way so that it also could not support what was said in the introduction. It seems that Regnerus knew he could not support the introduction with his study in the discussion/conclusion section, but didn’t bother to rewrite the introduction. Once again, not misconduct, but bad scientific writing. Introductions are the least important sections, but they should definitely not spin a tale of how great the study will be at addressing several problems with other studies, and then not actually answer the question those other studies attempted to answer.

  14. Caliban says

    Something’s fishy here. This study was funded by NOM and its conclusion was overly broad, misrepresenting one thing as another.

    Because Regnerus “couldn’t find enough” children raised in gay households he used responses from people raised in a heterosexual household where ONE of the partners also sought and engaged in homosexual activity. In the vernacular, he interviewed people whose daddy either went out cruising for guys and the whole family knew it OR daddy (or momma) came out as gay at some point and left the family.

    Both those scenarios are extremely stressful on ALL members of the family and, unsurprisingly, the children in those families suffered negative consequences.

    While it may be true that one of the parents in this situation is gay (or bi) it’s impossible to separate out the effect of having a gay parent from the stressful gay-but-married-and-cheating situation itself. But that’s exactly what Regnerus does, assigning all the blame to the gay parent instead of the tension inherent to the situation.

    If anything the study shows that gay people shouldn’t marry people of the opposite sex and have kids. But see, NOM actually promotes gay people doing that through their (verbal) support of “ex-gay” programs and though their homophobia, which causes gays to marry in denial of their sexuality, to please others.

    But Regnerus just blames it all on the “gay parent.”

    Either the investigator for UT is white-washing the study to protect the university’s reputation or Regnerus and NOM hid the evidence of their collusion well enough that it can’t be proved.

  15. Scott Rose says

    The same day it was announced that UT made the decision not to go ahead to a full investigation, a FOIA request was — just by good chance — granted – and the documents from it prove that Brad Wilcox of the Witherspoon Institute, Regnerus’s chief funder, was both a paid study adviser and a peer reviewer of the Regnerus study. (Significantly, Wilcox assisted Regnerus with data analysis). Another paid study adviser also was a peer reviewer, Paul Amato. This violates all ethics of scientific publishing. Had Wilcox been a paid study consultant and a peer reviewer, without being a Witherspoon official, his behavior still would have invalidated the peer review, because of his fiduciary conflicts of interest. But the fact that he additionally is an official of Regnerus’s Witherspoon funders, escalates the level of his impropriety. A preponderance of evidence shows that Regnerus is in collusion with his funders. He recruited the gay-basher Robert Oscar Lopez off of the internet, having seen Lopez’s gay bashing comments in support of his study online, and subsequently, Witherspoon published a gay-bashing essay in support of Regnerus’s study. The Lopez essay very seriously misrepresents what the Regnerus study says. For Regnerus to have had communications with him about the study, but then not to correct his misrepresentations of the study to the public, violates the American Sociological Association’s Code of Ethics on Public Communications. Lopez is telling the public that until now, there had been an LGBT conspiracy to keep children of gay parents from telling their (negative) stories to the public. But that is simply not true. Dawn Stefanawicz – a Catholic convert — has built an entire cottage industry on demonizing a gay man who allegedly raised her, and using her story to demonize all gays. Meanwhile, Witherspoon/NOM echo Lopez’s lie, by telling the public that an LGBT conspiracy keeps the public from hearing negative stories about gay parents. When NOM strategy documents were released through court order in March, one of NOM evil plots described was that of getting children of gay parents to denounce their gay parents to the public. Lopez fits that strategy, and his lying about gay conspiracies, which they get echoed by Witherspoon and NOM, fits typical known NOM strategies of lying about gay people. Regnerus recruited Lopez. And he did it to help his Witherspoon funders. This is not conjecture; this is documented. UT did not dig deep enough into the evidence of misconduct. But the recently acquired documentation of corrupt peer review involving Regnerus’s funders shows that the effort to achieve full exposure of the hoax must continue. Separately of course, the debunking of Regnerus’s study must continue, and is continuing. The President of the American Sociological Association has now signed his name to a letter expressing concerns about the Regnerus study’s lack of intellectual integrity and about the invalid peer review process. A Golinski amicus brief analyzing the Regnerus study as scientifically invalid was co-filed by eight major professional associations including the American Medical Association. Regnerus work is invalid; he used a cherry picked control group and compared it to a test group loaded up with glaring confounding variables. Every Sociology 101 course and every Statistics 101 course teach the necessity of eliminating glaring confounding variables. Regnerus may feel temporary relief that UT did not proceed to a full investigation, but in the broader academy he is viewed as having a dunce cap on his head.

  16. Scott Rose says

    The same day it was announced that UT made the decision not to go ahead to a full investigation, a FOIA request was — just by good chance — granted – and the documents from it prove that Brad Wilcox of the Witherspoon Institute, Regnerus’s chief funder, was both a paid study adviser and a peer reviewer of the Regnerus study. (Significantly, Wilcox assisted Regnerus with data analysis). Another paid study adviser also was a peer reviewer, Paul Amato. This violates all ethics of scientific publishing. Had Wilcox been a paid study consultant and a peer reviewer, without being a Witherspoon official, his behavior still would have invalidated the peer review, because of his fiduciary conflicts of interest. But the fact that he additionally is an official of Regnerus’s Witherspoon funders, escalates the level of his impropriety. A preponderance of evidence shows that Regnerus is in collusion with his funders. He recruited the gay-basher Robert Oscar Lopez off of the internet, having seen Lopez’s gay bashing comments in support of his study online, and subsequently, Witherspoon published a gay-bashing essay in support of Regnerus’s study. The Lopez essay very seriously misrepresents what the Regnerus study says. For Regnerus to have had communications with him about the study, but then not to correct his misrepresentations of the study to the public, violates the American Sociological Association’s Code of Ethics on Public Communications. Lopez is telling the public that until now, there had been an LGBT conspiracy to keep children of gay parents from telling their (negative) stories to the public. But that is simply not true. Dawn Stefanawicz – a Catholic convert — has built an entire cottage industry on demonizing a gay man who allegedly raised her, and using her story to demonize all gays. Meanwhile, Witherspoon/NOM echo Lopez’s lie, by telling the public that an LGBT conspiracy keeps the public from hearing negative stories about gay parents. When NOM strategy documents were released through court order in March, one of NOM evil plots described was that of getting children of gay parents to denounce their gay parents to the public. Lopez fits that strategy, and his lying about gay conspiracies, which they get echoed by Witherspoon and NOM, fits typical known NOM strategies of lying about gay people. Regnerus recruited Lopez. And he did it to help his Witherspoon funders. This is not conjecture; this is documented. UT did not dig deep enough into the evidence of misconduct. But the recently acquired documentation of corrupt peer review involving Regnerus’s funders shows that the effort to achieve full exposure of the hoax must continue. Separately of course, the debunking of Regnerus’s study must continue, and is continuing. The President of the American Sociological Association has now signed his name to a letter expressing concerns about the Regnerus study’s lack of intellectual integrity and about the invalid peer review process. A Golinski amicus brief analyzing the Regnerus study as scientifically invalid was co-filed by eight major professional associations including the American Medical Association. Regnerus work is invalid; he used a cherry picked control group and compared it to a test group loaded up with glaring confounding variables. Every Sociology 101 course and every Statistics 101 course teach the necessity of eliminating glaring confounding variables. Regnerus may feel temporary relief that UT did not proceed to a full investigation, but in the broader academy he is viewed as having a dunce cap on his head.

  17. says

    Oh please, this study was fabricated, fake, and BIAS as hell. EVERYONE should denounce it. We have a duty to call out this study for the religious operated experiment it was meant to be. Nothing scientific or fair minded about it. It came in with motives and left with a shady hand.

  18. Duration & Convexity says

    Hmm University of Texas, fostered by a conservative institution, with great conservative funding, under the umbrella of a conservative driven study, ALSO funded by conservatives, reaches this conclusion.

    I agree. It’s important to call this sham piece of ‘work’ for what it is. Comic relief.

  19. CR says

    This guy and his camp is just another Jesus c-nt sucking bag of fools. Soon when they all age and die they’ll realize their lil jeebus is nowhere to be seen.

  20. SFRowGuy says

    Mr. Regnerus, like many scientists that are looking for a particular answer, skew their analysis toward those answers that they want to see. If he had found irrefutable evidence against his desired results, we would have never heard about it or from him.

  21. Clematys says

    V-8: Are you really doubting the parenting skills of gay people just because they are gay? Because that is the underlying purpose of the Regnerus bogus report.

  22. TomTallis says

    The UT decision does not exonerate Regnus at all, and he remains tainted merchandise. I guess he’s thanking his lucky stars that he has tenure, and unless UT eliminates the entire sociology department, he’s guaranteed a job for life… teaching sociology 101.

  23. Mitchina says

    First of all, who here knows all the parameters that were used for this study? To claim that this did not compare heterosexual parents is basically lying for your ideological bias.

    @ V-8 = 2nd, “good parenting” shows up in the end result of the children, their behavior, success in society and self as a whole, so YES, parenting can be defined and quantified as good or bad on an overall scale. WTH are you talking about with “prescribed notion”. Your comment makes no sense. The study is not looking at the parents but rather the end result of their children.

    @ David H = it isn’t homophobic to have a study of this cultural group – just like we have had studies of every aspect of society – this is just another aspect being studied. Why is looking into this anymore homophobic than it would be racist to looking into the results of inner city children to define good and bad aspects of what makes them they way they are. You liberals are way too damn sensitive about the facts of life. Get over your stupid ass PC BS.

    None of these supposed flaws are unusual in social scientific research which has also been conducted by the massive outnumbered scale of liberal academic researchers and you don’t seem to have issue with them -do you? i.e.: Global Warming – even when proven in black and white – liberal hands holding the gun LYING that went on with that “mythical” so called conclusion – and that was treated as a well known fact when it wasn’t that at all. Indeed this study is considered more rigorous and non-biased in design than most smaller & less rigrous studies purported to support same-sex parenting.

    I can tell you just from personal experience in seeing adults now that were raised by same sex parents that the odds on not in the favor in support of homosexual parenting being good. Personally, I don’t need a study to tell me this is absolutely wrong and with a high level of negative results to the children. Seriously, only stupid, stick your head in the sand and never look at day light liberals will refuse to see the natural truth of the matter.

  24. MR Canon says

    I am beginning to understand why so many “scientific” observers think that life began when a spaceship carrying human DNA from another planet crash landed on earth. (The fact that nobody seems to ponder who, what, or how the DNA itself came to be seems immaterial to them.) It’s the same confusion that people exhibit when they contend that same sex marriage is “normal.” Oh, where did reason take leave – must have been the university!

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