I just read the following headline which made me go, "WTF!" followed by additional expletives: Study: Gay Parents More Likely to Have Gay Kids. Walter Schumm, a family studies professor at Kansas State University, has released a study proclaiming that gay parents are more likely to raise gay children than straight parents. His study appears to support the theory of right wing zealots that people can be taught to be gay.
I've done a great deal of research in my professional career, and I can tell you this, the questions that you ask have a direct correlation to the answers that you find. According to Schumm, he was looking for a connection between parenting and sexual orientation, "His study on sexual orientation, out next month, says that gay and lesbian parents are far more likely to have children who become gay. 'I'm trying to prove that it's not 100 percent genetic,' Schumm tells AOL News."
Schumm's research methodolgy consisted of reviewing other people's studies on gay parenting. In his meta-analysis of 10 such studies, Schumm extrapolated data that adult children of gay men and/or lesbians are statistically more likely to identify themselves as gay.
Whoop-di-do! This anecdotal evidence proves nothing except that children who grow up in a straight household may be far more reticent to self-identify as gay. In other words, a child who grows up in a home with two loving parents who are gay may feel more comfortable in acknowledging their own orientation. This so-called lighting bolt of insight is nothing more than the logical result of growing up in homes where sexual orientation is not a basis for disowning or ostracizing one's children.
Think about the number of people who are gay and stay in the closet for years, afraid of the reaction from their parents and other family members. That the adult children of gay parents are more likely to identify themselves as gay is not an indicator that sexual identity is determined by parenting; growing up in an accepting environment just means that you don't spend part of your life denying your authentic self.
I might actually read Schumm's study when it's released. I'd like to know if he addresses the conundrum that there have always been gay people. Who taught them how to be gay? What about gay children with straight parents? Did the straight indoctrination just not take?
This isn't research. This is a man who read a lot of books on gay parenting and then drew conclusions based on the answers collected by a variety of other studies. There is no control group, no methodology for isolating relevant data, or to account for variables because Schumm didn't interview any of the people on whose responses he bases his conclusions. Were the respondents in each of the ten different studies asked the identical questions, phrased in the same exact language, and under the same conditions? I doubt it; each of these studies produced its own independent report. Schumm just read them all.
Studies like this grab headlines. I find such studies to be the height of irresponsibility, feeding into the prejudice and hysteria of homophobia. Ultimately they are shown to be meaningless but the harm has already been done.
In the late 1960s and well into the 1970s, well credentialed researchers such as Arthur Jensen and William Shockley produced studies that proclaimed that intelligence was predetermined by genetics and that Black people were intellectually inferior to Whites. However, Jensen also concluded that Asians were intellectually superior to Whites. Although these studies were later largely discredited they still influenced policy makers in making decisions regarding public education.
Jensen and Shockley were not a one time anomaly. In 1994, Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray published a book in 1994 clearly directed at policy, just as Jensen and others had in the 1960s and 1970s,The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life. Herrnstein and Murray posited among many theories about IQ that Blacks were genetically inclined to have lower IQs than Whites. They also advised that the government "stop encouraging" poor women to have babies and contaminating the gene pool. In 2007, James D. Watson, 79, co-discoverer of the DNA helix and winner of the 1962 Nobel Prize in medicine, told the Sunday Times of London that he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours — whereas all the testing says not really."
Research can be used to support any position and its validity is only as good as the methodology of the researcher. The harm done by pseudo sociological research is like a tsunami; it hits the shore destroying everything in its path and then recedes but the damage it leaves behind is catastrophic. WTF were you thinking Mr. Schumm?