Gay parents and appropriate science

I just read an article on why gay parents may be better parents, on average, than straight parents and I was reminded of some common abuses of science. These abuses were markedly absent; the article took the time to qualify what it was saying, calling speculation just that, pointing out when a point should be construed narrowly and not broadly, and generally being scientifically appropriate. Here is my favorite part:

The bottom line, [New York University sociologist Judith] Stacey said, is that people who say children need both a father and a mother in the home are misrepresenting the research, most of which compares children of single parents to children of married couples. Two good parents are better than one good parent, Stacey said, but one good parent is better than two bad parents. And gender seems to make no difference. While you do find broad differences between how men and women parent on average, she said, there is much more diversity within the genders than between them.

Emphasis added.

Most of the article is on a few studies and the reasoning behind their conclusions – gay parents tend to choose to become parents whereas straight parents do it by accident about half of the time – but I really liked this part. It is so often that bigots go around and misrepresent the data. They love to look at studies comparing X to Y and then extrapolate it all to Z without any justification at all. I would say it is purely an ideological thing, but when we’re talking about sexuality and religion is involved (as it is with the particular bigot to whom I linked), I suspect sexual insecurity is a huge factor as well. It’s sad.

I’m glad LiveScience took the time to show an appreciation for science.

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One Response

  1. I remember the gay marriage debates in Canada back between 2003-2006, before there was a lot of data on the families of same-sex parents. Back then, the most frustrating argument that opponents could use was the ‘for the childrenz’ argument; it was such a pain to patiently explain to them that the studies showed that stable, two-parent families were better than single-parent families, on average.

    Of course, most of them were doing what everyone does: Coming to a conclusion and then searching for evidence to support it. (It’s not as if any of them advocated taking children away from single-parent homes, after all.) It didn’t make it any easier though, knowing that the debate was absolutely futile.

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