University rejects misconduct charge against gay parenting researcher

Austin, Texas, Aug 31, 2012 / 04:07 am (CNA/EWTN News).- An official inquiry at the University of Texas at Austin has rejected charges of scientific misconduct which a homosexual activist leveled against sociology professor Mark Regnerus after he published a study that found negative life outcomes among children of parents who had had same-sex relationships.

Robert A. Peterson, the university’s research integrity officer, said he “carefully reviewed” all available data, materials and information and discussed the process with other inquiry panel members.

“I have concluded that Professor Regnerus did not commit scientific misconduct,” he said in an Aug. 24 memorandum to university officials.

Regnerus’ research drew on data from the New Family Structures Study which examined life outcomes of 3,000 Americans age 18 to 39.

He found that households led by parents of either sex who engaged in same-sex relationships also showed greater household instability.

There were “statistically significant” differences in 25 of 40 life outcomes between adult children who grew up with married, opposite-sex parents and those who grew up with a mother who had a same-sex relationship.

Children from same-sex female households showed more physical and mental health problems, more instability in romantic relationships, and lower average income as adults. They also showed higher levels of unemployment, smoking, need for public assistance and involvement in crime.

Activist and blogger Scott Rose had charged Regnerus with ethical violations in a June 21 letter to University of Texas President Bill Powers. University officials interviewed Rose about his charges.

Peterson’s review found no justification for the charges.

“None of the allegations of scientific misconduct put forth by Mr. Rose were substantiated either by physical data, written materials, or by information provided during the interviews,” he said. “Several of the allegations were expressly beyond the purview of the inquiry.

He said that Rose believed Regnerus’ research to be “seriously flawed” and Rose “inferred that there must be scientific misconduct.”

“However, there is no evidence to support that inference,” Peterson said.

He added that any problems in Regnerus’ research and analysis should be left to academic debates and future research.

David Hacker, senior counsel with the religious liberty group Alliance Defending Freedom, praised the inquiry’s outcome.

“America’s universities should always serve as truth-seeking, free marketplaces of ideas,” he said Aug. 29. “Disagreeing with a study’s conclusions is not grounds for allegations of scientific misconduct; therefore, we are not surprised that those accusations were found to be baseless.”

The inquiry involved significant time and effort. All data on Regnerus’ computers, including e-mail and documents, were sequestered. The inquiry officials obtained his grant applications and correspondence. The university created a panel of senior faculty members to advise the inquiry process and the university retained an experienced independent consultant to monitor the inquiry.

Inquiry officials interviewed both Regnerus and Rose. The interviews were recorded and transcribed by a court reporter, Peterson’s memo said.

University provost and vice president Steven W. Leslie said in an Aug. 28 memo that he accepted Peterson’s conclusion that there was no evidence of misconduct.

“Consequently, this matter is closed,” Leslie said.

Regnerus’ initial report on his findings drew swift reaction from homosexual advocates critical of his findings. The Human Rights Campaign and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation criticized the researcher’s report.

A group of 18 social scientists signed a statement in support of Regnerus in June. They said his research is “not without limitations” but they thought much of the criticism of him was “unwarranted.”

In a June 12 interview with EWTN News, Regnerus said he began his project with “no idea what the data would reveal.”

In his June announcement of the paper, the professor said his “most significant” finding “is arguably that children appear most apt to succeed well as adults when they spend their entire childhood with their married mother and father, and especially when the parents remain married to the present day.”

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