It's no big secret that my mom is a big ole lesbian. It's also no big secret that she was/is the most badass mom in the history of parenting. I mean just look at me!
I didn't turn out too shabby in spite of or because of the alarming fact that we were at various points in my childhood very poor, homeless, in the midst of an abusive relationship she had with another woman, cut off from our entire extended family and evicted in the middle of more than one school year.
Any of those points on a graph could lead a "researcher" to determine whether or not the red line representing my life would shoot up toward success and an L-shaped Pottery Barn couch or down toward dope addiction, teen pregnancy, poverty and severe psychological problems.
And yet here I am -- firmly NOT in the discounted bin of life we reserve for damaged and dented goods. Why? Because my mother's sexuality had little to do with how awesome or awful she was as a parent.
But according to this new study of gay parenting, which as it turns out is NOT a study of gay parenting at all, the children of same sex loving moms and dads are damaged from get. From ABC News:
The study surveyed nearly 3,000 U.S. adults, ages 18 to 39, about their upbringing and their lives today, asking questions about factors such as income, relationship stability, mental health and history of sexual abuse. Of the 3,000 respondents, 73 reported that their father had engaged in a same-sex relationship and 163 reported that their mother had done so.
So less than 2 percent of respondents in what the study's proponents are calling "the most comprehensive to date of the differences between same-sex and heterosexual parents" actually maybe probably lived in a same sex household. Um, OK. Keep reading.
People who reported that their mother or father had a same-sex relationship at some point were different than children raised by their biological, still-married parents in 25 of the study's 40 measures. And most of the time, they fared worse. The children of parents who at some point had a same-sex partner were more likely to be on welfare, have a history of depression, have less education and report a history of sexual abuse, the study found.
Author of the report, Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, claims that the study tried to answer the question of whether children of same sex parents were different. Which from a scientific perspective is almost laughably problematic.
Look, I'm no Einstein. But if my memory of AP Bio (on which test I got a FIVE) serves me correctly, in order to conduct proper research in comparisons you need a "control" group in order to accurately analyze any significant variation in your "test" group. The differences between the two groups should be as minimal as possible in order to draw any worthwhile conclusions.
For example, if I wanted to understand the differences in how my dog Miles behaves around me (temperamental) versus how he acts when he's visiting grandma (like an angel), I'd make sure he was eating the same food, sleeping on the same bed, going on the same amount of walks, you get the picture. In the end, I found out Frances was sneaking Miles bacon on the sly. Experiment ruined.
So it's no big surprise than most scientists with a brain are debunking this new "research" funded by two groups known for their conservative leanings.
Here's the thing though: There will always be another study about the difference between this kid or that kid and this parent or that parent. Two years ago, my mom and I even went on CNN to discuss research that said kids of lesbian parents fare BETTER than kids of same sex parents. They rated higher than their peers in social, academic and overall competence and had fewer behavioral problems.
I'd say that's about right for my experience, but when coupled with all the other messed-up situations I went through as a wee one, none of it makes sense.
Everyone wants answers. But there really are none. Anyone can point to a million different pages of proof on why their kid is great or isn't. Sort of like how you can use the Bible to support just about any and every position in life (Oh, hey, slavery and gender subjugation).
I mean, yes, you should probably not be an active drug ingester while also raising your kid in a dumpster. I'm pretty sure things will be tough. But then again Frances has smoked up since time immemorial and one time we lived right above a junk yard. I was still getting straight As and going to a few fun sleepovers and generally thought of myself as a happy kid. And what?