Statesboro, GA, USA
Thanks for the clarification. It still seems that from looking at ALL of the research on adult children of homosexuals, there is higher incidence of homosexual experimentation and orientation, though the orientation itself is only slightly higher. Still the main consensus is that from the samples, most of them were heterosexually oriented.
But there are methodological difficulties which render all of this research inconclusive so far, and "embryonic". Hopefully more research will be done based upon all of this preliminary work. But research for either "side" does not yet provide any magic bullet.
HOW RELIABLE IS THE RESEARCH ON SAME-SEX COUPLES AND FAMILIES?
As same-sex marriage is still a project rather than a reality, it makes sense to examine the relationship of cohabiting homosexuals in order to have an idea of their functioning, division of labor, psychological satisfaction, and sexual relations, as is done for married and cohabiting heterosexual couples. However, except for large-scale studies on sexuality with representative samples of the adult population, there are no
large-scale studies of the life of lesbian/gay couples. Especially lacking are follow-up studies of such couples living in long-term relationships. There are several reasons for this gap in our knowledge:
1. It is only recently that homosexual unions have been socially recognized. Hence, in the past,
researchers had little incentive to study them.
2. It is still not possible to obtain large and representative samples of homosexual couples. It is only with such samples that we could draw conclusions applicable to the entirety of the homosexual couple population.
3. However, even here, another set of problems emerges. First, gays and lesbians have suffered from stigmatization and may not wish to share the intimate details of their lives with non-gay researchers for fear of being further victimized or categorized (Nelson, 1996:10). Second, these concerns may affect the way they respond to researchers' questions.
4. Quite a few good studies on couples and children in same-sex parent families have been carried out in the late 1990s and early 2000s. However, these suffer from the fact that the couples are often selected by the researchers or they are self-selected. Self-selection occurs when ads are placed in newspapers, newsletters, bulletin boards of gay community and health centers, or distributed on university campuses.
Obviously, such an approach draws relatively educated couples who maintain links to the homosexual community, may be activists, and are fairly young (Christopher and Sprecher, 2000). Less educated same-sex couples and those who have little to do with the homosexual subcultures or are older will not be represented in these samples (but, see Yip, 1997). Furthermore, there may be specific characteristics of individuals/couples who accept the call of these ads.
For instance, couples who want to make a pro-homosexuality statement or only couples who get along particularly well may elect to be interviewed or fill out a questionnaire--thus biasing the research results and making it difficult to interpret them.
There are many additional methodological problems in the research on same-sex-parent families, including small samples and lack of control for important variables (whether sociological or psychological). In other
words, much of the research is still at the exploratory level so that it is possible that some of the findings herein reported will not hold under the scrutiny of better-designed analyses and from a wider spectrum of researchers who have expertise in various domains of family life.
It cannot be emphasized enough that the research upon which we can draw at this time remains embryonic and is often incomplete or inadequate methodologically. As such, any conclusions that can be drawn are tentative and serve to sharpen research questions yet to be pursued.
(SAME-SEX COUPLES AND SAME-SEX-PARENT FAMILIES: RELATIONSHIPS, PARENTING, AND ISSUES OF MARRIAGE By Dr. Anne-Marie Ambert)