In response: Research shows adult children of gay parents face more health risksA pair of pediatricians, in their Oct. 4 column, “Marriage amendment harmful to health of children, adolescents,” wrote that, “More than 25 years of research has documented that there is no relationship between parents’ sexual orientation and any measure of a child’s emotional, psychosocial and behavioral adjustment.” They were therefore against the Minnesota marriage amendment.
By: Dr. Kion Hoffman, for the News Tribune
A pair of pediatricians, in their Oct. 4 column, “Marriage amendment harmful to health of children, adolescents,” wrote that, “More than 25 years of research has documented that there is no relationship between parents’ sexual orientation and any measure of a child’s emotional, psychosocial and behavioral adjustment.” They were therefore against the Minnesota marriage amendment.
The writers seemed to be unaware of some very recent research.
In a February article (“How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study”) Mark Regnerus, a researcher for the Department of Sociology and Population Research at the University of Texas in Austin, reported on a landmark study. This was a large and well-
designed study with leaders in family research from multiple universities, including Penn State, San Diego State, Brigham Young, the University of Virginia and the University of Texas.
It is an important study because, unlike many other studies, it surveyed 18- to 39-year-old adults and is a larger study than ones done previously, allowing for findings of more statistical significance.
The two pediatricians indicated in their commentary that research exists showing no difference between children raised by heterosexual couples and children raised by homosexual couples.
The problem with much of the previous research is it suffered from three types of bias. The first is sample size. If you don’t have a large enough sample, then differences don’t reach statistical significance and you can say, from a statistical standpoint, the study finds no difference between two groups when there may still be true differences. The second bias is in survey methodology. If you are trying to determine how the children raised by lesbian or gay couples fare, asking their caregivers is not conducive to objectivity. And the third bias of many studies of homosexual parenting is called selection bias. If you recruit your study subjects rather than obtaining a random sample you can introduce significant error. Admittedly, random sampling of this group is difficult because it represents a very small fraction of the general population.
This recent study minimized these types of bias. It compared the responses of adult children of intact biological families with those of adult children raised in homosexual families.
Those raised in lesbian households had lower educational attainment, felt less secure and reported worse health and lower incomes. Thirty-one percent reported having had sex forced on them vs. 8 percent of adults raised in intact biological families.
Those raised in gay households with their father were more likely to have received public assistance, to have suicidal thoughts, to have had a sexually transmitted disease, to have experienced forced sex (25 percent vs. 8 percent), to have smoked, to have been arrested and to have had more sexual partners.
The study found many other differences not listed here. It showed important differences between the self-reported lives of adult children of intact biological families vs. those of adult children raised in homosexual households. Adult children of gay and lesbian households, in general, were not as healthy emotionally, physically or socially.
The marriage amendment would not change our current state law. It only would add to our state Constitution so a judge may not change marriage law against the will of the people of our state.
The marriage amendment does not prevent homosexuals from having committed relationships.
As a family-practice physician, I advocate for the health of families, and I would recommend we vote “yes” for the marriage amendment.
Dr. Kion Hoffman of Cohasset has practiced family medicine for 23 years, the past 19 of them in Deer River, and was an adjunct faculty member for the universities of Washington and Minnesota in the rural-training tract of family-practice residency programs.