April 20th 2002

  Buy Issue 2631

Articles from this issue:

Cover Story: PM leads Australia down the slippery slope

Urgent action needed to save Australia's sugar industry

The ALP and the embryonic stem cell issue

NSW Euthanasia bill overwhelmingly defeated

Report recommends relaxing controls over violent computer games

Can the Public Service be depoliticised?

Straws in the Wind: Living fossils / Engineers of human souls

Western Australia: MP looks at SA's marijuana laws

Media misrepresentation on stem cell therapy (letter)

Media bias (letter)

Refugees: where do you stand? (letter)

Water and Australia's priorities (letter)

The high price of misplaced idealism

Is the 'war on terrorism' being hijacked?

Peter Singer's utilitarianism

Books: 'The Unsleeping Eye: A Brief History of Secret Police and their Victims' by Robert Stove

Books: 'Children as Trophies?' by Patricia Morgan

Film: Some Like it Hot - a tribute to Billy Wilder

Books available from News Weekly

Books promotion page

Books: 'Children as Trophies?' by Patricia Morgan

by Bill Muehlenberg

News Weekly, April 20, 2002
by Patricia Morgan

Available from News Weekly Books for $25.95 plus p&h

There have been many claims made lately that studies show no adverse effects to children raised in same-sex households. These contentions have been raised so often that most people accept them as gospel. But the question is, what studies? Indeed, a host of questions spring to mind. What do they actually say? How reliable are they? Who conducted the studies? What is their methodology? What size sample group were used? And so on.

There have been several good examinations of these studies in the recent past. One of the newest and most extensive is that by Patricia Morgan. In her 160-page book she does a thorough job of documenting the evidence for the two-parent family, and revealing how studies purporting to show the benefits of being raised in a same-sex family are deeply flawed.

She begins her analysis by noting a common tactic used by those who support same-sex parenting: the observation that there are so many dysfunctional heterosexual families. But, "no amount of decrying or demonstrating the disadvantages of one situation is, in itself, proof of the advantages of another. Deficiencies or condemnations of heterosexual parenting are not, in themselves, valid evidence for the superiority of homosexual parenting." Moreover, as she points out, most children who go into government care because of abuse or other problems, come from homes other than where a mum and dad are present, committed by marriage.

And as politically incorrect as it may be, "the evidence is that around a third of all molestations of children are homosexual molestations, and the same applies to the proportion of paedophiles who are homosexual."

Books reviewed

The bulk of her book is a review of 144 academic papers on gay parenting. She demonstrates that the overwhelming majority of these studies are quite worthless. They are so poorly done that the "results" prove nothing. The methodological shortcomings include: failure to design the study properly; failure to properly measure the relevant variables; failure to control for extraneous variables; and failure to use proper statistical tests. These and other shortcomings mean that most of the studies and reports are invalid.

Many of the studies, for example, are little more than anecdotal. People offer gushing praise for their lifestyle choice, and report that everything is just fine in the family. Says Morgan, "While anecdotes may illustrate conclusions drawn from well-conducted research, in themselves they prove nothing". Using self-congratulatory testimonials is hardly objective science: "It is astonishing how collections of anecdotes are reverentially accepted by public bodies, academics and research institutes, who would immediately laugh away the use of similar material as 'evidence' elsewhere."

Plenty of other problems are found in the so-called studies. Small sample groups are a frequent drawback. Often just several dozen cases are featured in a study, making any reliable and informative statistical conclusions almost impossible to achieve.

Another problem is where the samples come from. The truth is, in most cases the study is advertised in a homosexual newspaper, and people with a vested interest (those who want to promote the homosexual agenda) are thereby recruited. Self-selected volunteers with vested interests are hardly scientific sample groups. Proper studies of child development based on randomly selected, representative sample groups seem not to exist.

Another point that can be raised is what the studies actually say. Often the media gives them a spin that is not so accurate. Some of the better studies, for example, are much more qualified and nuanced than the popular press would have us believe. That is, some of the studies really offer a mixed message, and call for further research in the area. And some of the studies actually make admissions that the pro-homosexual side does not want too widely publicised.

For example, "many studies actually indicate significant differences between homosexual and heterosexual parenting outcomes for children, particularly the likelihood that children of homosexuals may become involved in homosexual behaviour themselves."

Also, we know that family behaviour tends to be intergenerational. Thus children of divorce or single motherhood are proportionally far more likely to repeat cycles of divorce and non-marriage than those born to married couples who stay in intact families. Says Morgan, all this "seems even more likely to be the case with homosexual parents and their children".

Moreover, surveys of post-adolescent offspring of same-sex parents show large proportions with a homosexual lifestyle. The figures range from 8 to 24 per cent, which is four or five times higher than the general population (of British males). Morgan offers the interesting insight that if "it were true that there was any generic or biological basis or predisposition for homosexuality, a greater frequency among the children of homosexuals would be expected".

Speaking of the so-called genetic basis of homosexuality, Morgan points out some other arguments against the thesis. Studies on identical twins show that often one is and one is not homosexual, which belies any genetic basis, since identical (monozygotic) twins have the same genes. Also, we know that homosexuality is not distributed in the population either randomly or uniformly like left-handedness or intelligence.

Futhermore, research on outcomes for sexually abused young males, found that early homosexual contact with an adult was highly related to homosexual outcomes. All of which suggests that social and cultural factors are as, or more, important than biological factors.

If it is true that children of same-sex couples are more likely to become homosexuals themselves, we might reply, So what? The answer is, the welfare of children, not the preferences of adults, should be our major concern. And we know that the homosexual lifestyle is a dangerous, high-risk lifestyle.

Best interests of the child

Concludes Morgan, "from the perspective of the 'best interests of the child', if homosexual activity - like intravenous drug use - is life shortening, and morbidity attracting, then children should be placed with parents who, at very least, will not steer them towards this."

If the evidence presented above is correct, we should not be talking so cavalierly about gay adoption rights. We should not be treating children as trophies. Indeed, we should not be treating children as guinea pigs in a radical social experiment. The rights of children, not the desires of adults, should be our primary concern.

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