Study: Kids of Parents in Same-Sex Relationships Fare Worse as Adults

BananaStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- A new study finds that adult children of parents in same-sex relationships fare worse socially, psychologically and physically than people raised in other family arrangements.

Critics call the study deeply flawed, saying the results don't accurately describe -- or even measure -- any children raised in stable households with two same-sex parents.

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.

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.

The study was published Sunday in the journal Social Science Research.  It was funded by the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation, groups that are "commonly known for their support of conservative causes," though the organizations played no role in the design and analysis of the report, the study said.

Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of the report, said the study was not intended as a political statement, but simply tried to answer the question of whether children of parents with same-sex relationships are different.  He said the study also isn't designed to prove that family structure causes poor health.

"I'm not claiming that gay and lesbian adults are bad parents.  This is not a parenting study," Regnerus said.  "What this shows is that there's lots of diversity."

Regardless, the study touches a raw nerve at a time of heated political battles over gay marriage and same-sex parenting.  Both supporters and critics of the study claim to have science on their side.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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