Scholar charged with 'misconduct' for his work on gay parenting

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University of Texas sociologist Prof. Mark Regnerus.

A University of Texas sociologist is being investigated for scientific “misconduct,” after angering gay activists with research suggesting children raised by same-sex couples have more problems as adults.

Professor Mark Regnerus defended his June 2012 findings in an e-mail to the Austin American-Statesman newspaper, saying he worked with a team of “leading family researchers” from “across disciplines and ideological lines” to develop a protocol approved by the university's review board.

Initially, the university promoted Regnerus' study as a “particularly significant” source of information on outcomes in same-sex parenting. It showed that adult children of same-sex households tend to have lower incomes, more physical and mental problems, less stable relationships and higher crime rates.

Published in the Social Science Research journal, the work was criticized by homosexual advocates. The university has now convened a panel to investigate Regnerus' alleged “misconduct,” a category including false or plagiarized work as well as “practices that seriously deviate from ethical standards.”

A July 11 article in the Austin American-Statesman indicated that one of Regnerus' fiercest critics, Scott Rosensweig of the “New Civil Rights Movement” blog, may have played a leading role in the university's decision to investigate.

The blogger, who writes for the gay activist site under the name “Scott Rose,” accused Regnerus of ethical violations in a June 21 letter to University of Texas President Bill Powers.

Rosensweig told the president that Regnerus' study was “designed so as to be guaranteed to make gay people look bad, through means plainly fraudulent and defamatory.”

He also claimed that Regnerus, who got funding from the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation for his work, had done the research with “money from an anti-gay political organization.”

The university says it will conclude the investigation within two months and make a decision based on its findings. Regnerus did not respond to a request for comment on the inquiry.

In a June 2012 interview, the sociologist told EWTN News that he approached the research on gay parenting with an open mind.

“I had no idea what the data would reveal,” he said, “but it's revealed far greater instability in the households of parents who've had same-sex relationships.”

His findings, he said, should be evaluated by the standards of “normal science,” not ideology. He described the criticisms being leveled as “disproportionate to the study's limitations,” which could be legitimately critiqued.

Regnerus addressed other criticisms in a series of blog posts that accompanied the publication of his findings. The conservative Witherspoon Institute, he said, “had nothing to do with the study design, or with the data analyses, or interpretations, or the publication of the study.”

The sociologist also said his Catholic beliefs did not compromise the research. “There’s no 'Christian' approach to sampling or 'Catholic' way of crunching numbers,” he remarked.
 
“Any trained methodologist, data manager, and statistician can locate the same patterns I reported. Others may ask different questions, or follow different decision rules on measures. But that’s normal science.”

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