Jenet Jacob Erickson: Debate over gay parents needs more honest inquiry

Published: Sunday, Sept. 23 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Understandably, this study has sparked passionate responses. It comes in the midst of a politically divisive debate over whether to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples. More personally, it places under an academic microscope the most tender and meaningful of human relationships. A study of children's "outcomes" could easily be interpreted as a critique of parents' parenting. As one critic noted, "For LGBT people, this is about whether or not they can have children."

But it is precisely because Regnerus' study touches on such sensitive issues that more, not less, study is needed.

The University of Texas recently closed further inquiry into allegations of scientific misconduct by Regnerus, finding "insufficient evidence to warrant an investigation." As such, Regnerus' study should be evaluated through normal academic review and public debate, not subjected to further inquisition aimed at expunging its record.

As our nation, communities and families grapple with the grave and serious matter of the definition of marriage (and other issues related to gay and lesbian parenting), we need more, not less, academic freedom, honest inquiry and civil discourse.

Jenet Jacob Erickson teaches in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University.

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