AUSTIN, Texas – The University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin) has cleared sociology professor Mark Regnerus of academic misconduct after he was excoriated by some in the media over a study showing that parents’ homosexual relationships can have negative effects on children.
Regnerus made headlines in June when his study was published in the widely respected journal Social Science Research. According to his findings, children raised by homosexual parents are more likely than those raised by married heterosexual parents to suffer from poor impulse control, depression and suicidal thoughts. They also are more likely to require more mental health therapy; identify themselves as homosexual; choose cohabitation; be unfaithful to partners; contract sexually transmitted diseases; be sexually molested; have lower income levels; drink to get drunk; and smoke tobacco and marijuana.
As a result, a gay-activist blogger accused Regnerus of academic fraud, demanding in July that the university release all his research material and emails with fellow sociologists.
Administrators conducted an exhaustive pre-investigation to determine whether a more comprehensive one would be necessary – including hiring a consultant who formerly ran the Office of Research Integrity at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to oversee the process.
After sequestering all of Regnerus’s correspondence and conducting both written and oral interviews with him and his accuser, Scott Rosensweig, UT-Austin research integrity officer Robert Peterson wrote in an Aug. 24 memorandum to administrators, “None of the allegations of scientific misconduct put forth … were substantiated either by physical data, written materials, or by information provided during the interviews.
“Since no evidence was provided to indicate that the behavior at issue rose to a level of scientific misconduct, no formal investigation is warranted,” Peterson wrote.
Glenn Stanton, Focus on the Family’s director of family formation studies, said Regnerus went to great lengths to make sure his study was well-designed and executed, including soliciting input from other sociologists with whom he has ideological differences.
“Basically,” Stanton said of Rosensweig, “this guy was crying, ‘Fire!’ and they didn’t even find any smoke.
“The university has essentially concluded there is not even the slightest whiff of credibility” to the accusations, Stanton said. “That surprises none of us, because Mark is not an activist scholar, and that is very clear in the research that he did.”
David Hacker, senior legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, agreed, saying that America’s universities “should always serve as truth-seeking, free marketplaces of ideas.”
“Disagreeing with a study’s conclusions is not grounds for allegations of scientific misconduct; therefore, we are not surprised that those accusations were found to be baseless,” Hacker said. “We agree with the UT-Austin inquiry’s conclusion that the academy is the appropriate place for debate about this study.”