Lesbianism and Family Breakdown

A fascinating story on the controversial LifeSiteNews website.

The Family Research Council (FRC) released a new analytic report Thursday indicating that women who did not grow up with their biological mother and father are much more likely to engage in homosexual conduct as adults than are women who grew up in an intact family.

“This research further undermines the claim that homosexuality is largely genetic or biological in origin,” stated Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D., senior fellow and director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) at FRC, and co-author of the study. “It is clear that social factors have a significant impact on whether a woman chooses to engage in homosexual relationships.”

The study was based on 2002 data regarding 7,643 women between the ages of 14 and 44, drawn from the National Survey of Family Growth conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The evaluation of the data was conducted by Fagan and D. Paul Sullins, Ph.D., from the Department of Sociology at the Catholic University of America.

Women who grew up in households where their biological fathers were absent were found to be three times more likely to have had homosexual partners in the year prior to the survey than were women who grew up with their biological fathers.

“Classical theory and earlier research focused on the important role which attachment to the same sex parent plays in the sexual development of children,” said Fagan. “These data seem to indicate that the father also plays a crucial role in the sexual development of his daughter.

“With a continued breakdown in the family it is reasonable to expect a rise in homosexual behavior among women. Difficulties in the development of sexual identification with the same sex parent will increase where there is a breakdown of attachment between both parents,” concluded Fagan.

The report also examined the correlation between current religious participation and homosexual conduct. Women who never attend religious worship were similarly found more than three times as likely to have homosexual relationships than women who attended worship weekly.

When both factors (childhood family structure and present religious participation) were combined, the study found that only 2.1 percent of women from an intact family who worship weekly had a homosexual partner in the past year, while women from a non-intact family who never attend worship were four and one-half times as likely to have had such a partner (9.5 percent).

Very interesting. This is not actually a new piece of research – the data is drawn from a study published in 2002 and the link to the FRC does not provide any robust analysis of the survey, rather it’s just a selection of pretty graphs.

The real interesting question is whether the family structures themselves lead to homosexual identity. Although the data does seem to imply that there is link, it would be interesting to know why. We also don’t know the sizes of each of the sub-groups and that would affect the reliability of the data. What I found fascinating looking at the limited information available was that there was very little difference in outcome between children of married couples who stayed together and children of unmarried couples who stayed together. Both of these groups then has much lower outcome rates then the single parents and married step-families. What is really intriguing is that co-habiting step families produce higher outcome rates then just a single parent. It would be interesting to break these down again to see whether there were significant differences based on the sex of the parent that the daughter stayed with when a relationship broke down.

I’m not sure we should put much weight on the church attendance figures – the simply fact is that homosexual identified people tend not to go to church as much as other people. It’s not though an issue of causation in the same manner (i.e. we presume that family structure causes homosexual identity (not the other way round), but equally it’s probably homosexual identity that leads to decisions around church attendance.

The Marin Foundation is currently working on a piece of research on Christian religious involvement amongst the LGBT community which I’m very much looking forward to reading.


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