LGBT parents scored a victory Tuesday after a Florida judge ruled that the University of Central Florida must release records related to a debunked 2012 study that claimed kids raised in LGBT families fared worse than those raised by straight ones.
The ruling in John M. Becker v. University of Central Florida Board of Trustees is related to a study by Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociolology at the University of Texas at Austin. His article, immediately seized upon by the LGBT community as false, was called “How Different Are the Adult Children of Parents Who Have Same-Sex Relationships?” and appeared in the June 2012 edition of Social Science Research, which is housed at UCF and edited by a UCF professor who oversaw the peer-review process.
Becker, a journalist who writes for The Bilerico Project, sought the documents under Florida’s Public Records Act. He said he sued “to uncover the truth about the peer review and publishing of the Regnerus paper, to find out whether those processes were as ideologically compromised as the study design and data collection processes were shown to have been.”
The victory means Becker will have access to emails and documents related to the study.
The Human Rights Campaign said in a blog post that 200 scholars and the American Sociological Association collectively noted “glaring flaws and biases” in Regnerus’s study.
“There has always been a dark cloud over the Regnerus study, yet this debunked study is now being touted by anti-LGBT organizations around the country and around the globe,” said Ellen Kahn of the Human Rights Campaign. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and the public has a right to know how junk science gets published in a scholarly journal.”
HRC noted the importance of today’s decision:
In France, for example, Regnerus’ research was cited by opponents of a marriage equality bill that was eventually signed into law. But Regnerus’ faulty research has been most damaging in Russia — where it has been used as evidence for archaic and damaging legislation that criminalized “homosexual propaganda” in the country and banned the adoption of Russian children by same-sex couples and individuals living in countries with marriage equality. It even was used to support proposed legislation that would allow the Russian state to remove children from an LGBT parent or someone assumed to be LGBT.
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation funded the litigation that led to this victory. According to HRC, the Witherspoon Institute, an organization with a history of distinctly unscholarly antigay activity, had underwritten the study.
Contact reporter Alex Davidson on Twitter at twitter.com/adwildcat