- SXSW 2014
A formal complaint by a New York-based writer claiming scientific misconduct has prompted the University of Texas at Austin to investigate a study on gay parenting by associate professor of sociology Mark Regnerus released last month.
The study claimed that children who grew up with gay parents fared worse emotionally and socially in their adult life than those who had heterosexual parents.
Scott Rosensweig, who uses the byline Scott Rose and is a writer for the LGBT publication The New Civil Rights Movement, sent a letter of complaint to UT President Bill Powers on June 21 saying the study was flawed and funded by conservative, anti-gay groups such as The Witherspoon Institute.
Shortly after its release, the study was criticized by UT scholars and major LGBT organizations, including the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the Human Rights Campaign, for refuting decades worth of research showing the sexual orientation of parents does not negatively affect the adult life of the children they raise.
“Because of the serious flaws, this so-called study doesn’t match 30 years of scientific research that shows overwhelmingly that children raised by parents who are LGBT do equally as well as their counterparts raised by heterosexual parents,” Chad Griffin, Human Rights Campaign president, said.
In a statement released by UT Media Director Gary Susswein, he said the actions the university is taking are all “standard operating procedure.”
“Any allegation of scientific misconduct against a faculty member automatically triggers an inquiry, which is a preliminary fact finding exercise led by the Vice President for Research’s office,” he said. “The purpose of the inquiry is to determine whether the allegations have merit and warrant a full investigation. In this case, a panel of faculty members is conducting the inquiry.”
In his complaint, Rose claimed Regnerus had committed scientific misconduct because he had created and released a study “designed so as to be guaranteed to make gay people look bad, through means plainly fraudulent and defamatory.”
“Regnerus’s claims that he used the best available population sampling method for his study are false,” Rose said. “One of the most troubling factors of his willingness to make stuff up about gay parents, is that, those portions of his study funding, so far to be revealed to the public came from The Witherspoon Institute.”
In his official letter to President Powers, Rose said the university must not allow its professors to violate its honor code by contaminating their allegedly scientific research with a theologically-fueled nasty bigotry against a social minority.
“Your employee, Professor Mark Regnerus, is shaming and disgracing your institution by violating your university’s academic honor code,” he wrote. “If you take no stand against Regnerus’ coordinated political anti-gay hate campaign then you are leaving your institution’s reputation in a garbage-bin of iniquity.”
Though Regnerus was not available for comment, he has said during many occasions that his study followed the standard procedures of research.
Susswein said that a panel of UT professors is currently conducting the inquiry which was officially initiated on June 25. The process will be completed within 60 days of the complaint unless exceptional circumstances arise. Progress of the inquiry could not be disclosed at this time.
UT defines scientific misconduct as “fabrication, falsification or plagiarism” and “practices that seriously deviate from ethical standards.”
If the results of the university’s investigation find that Regnerus’ work indeed shows scientific misconduct, University Provost Steven Leslie would decide on how to proceed, Susswein said.