Did FamilyVoice Australia’s Roslyn Phillips bend study to fit letter against marriage equality?
Adapted from SayYes
The letters page of the local newspaper is a treasure trove of scientific and sociological studies being bent to fit an agenda. Letters to the editor for publication are often taken at face value, with no fact-checking of ‘scientific’ claims.
Roslyn tuned in to Q&A on 29 February 2016, which dealt with marriage equality, the Safe Schools Coalition, and other pro-equality topics. Finding her own views at odds with those of openly lesbian Dr Kerryn Phelps’, she wrote to The Australian:
Amid loud applause on Monday night’s Q&A program, Kerryn Phelps claimed that marriage has nothing to do with children. True, not all married people have children. Not all children are conceived within marriage.
But the reason marriage as a lasting man-woman union has been recognised in almost all cultures throughout recorded history is because of children — and their need to be raised in a stable, caring environment.
That environment has been shown, time and again, to be with their biological mother and father, committed to each other and the children they have created together. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule.
But a very large 2010 US survey of child abuse and neglect studied six different family types, and found that families headed by two natural married parents were safest by far on every measure.
— Roslyn Phillips, Tea Tea Gully, SA
Oddly enough, she forgot to include her affiliation to a “Christian’ campaigning organisation – but we’ll get to that later.
The final paragraph seems to imply that other family types – including LGBTI ones like Dr Kerryn Phelps’s own – are less safe than ‘families headed by two natural married parents’. But is it true? And where did she get her ‘facts’?
A quick search of the web uncovers only one prominent 2010 US survey that studied ‘six different family types’: the Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4): Report to Congress, published by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) and the Children’s Bureau, in the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families.
It’s a statistical analysis of a subset of data relating to child abuse, maltreatment and neglect in 2005 and 2006. It sorted children into the following categories:
• living with two married biological parents,
• living with other married parents (e.g., step-parent, adoptive parent),
• living with two unmarried parents,
• living with one parent who had an unmarried partner in the household,
• living with one parent who had no partner in the household, and
• living with no parent.
It’s immediately obvious that something is missing. It does not specify whether any of the parents and their partners – other than the “married biological” pair – are LGBTI. Nothing to say about same-sex parents. So where did she get her factoid, that hetero parents are always best? The broad findings of the report conclude:
Compared to children living with married biological parents, those whose single parent had a live-in partner had more than 8 times the rate of maltreatment overall, over 10 times the rate of abuse, and nearly 8 times the rate of neglect.
This does indeed fit the study described in Philips letter:
a very large 2010 US survey of child abuse and neglect studied six different family types [and] found that families headed by two natural married parents were safest by far on every measure.
But nowhere in that study is there any mention of sexual orientation, sexuality, gay, lesbian, same-sex or homosexual parenting. It made no comments about whether same-sex families led to abuse, neglect or harm. In fact, it has nothing to say about same-sex parenting. It didn’t study same-sex families at all. So it’s a bit rich to use it to slyly infer that children of LGBTI families are ‘less safe’.
But the lady has ‘form’ when it comes to this kind of misinformation. Roslyn Phillips is the voluntary national research officer of FamilyVoice Australia (formerly The Australian Festival of Light and Community Standards Organisation). Her husband is the national president. These tiny organisations have to make do with whoever they can get. She has been vocally anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-surrogacy, and has frequently cited debunked ‘scientific’ studies and manipulated facts to suit the FVA agenda.
In 2012, FamilyVoice Australia trumpeted a new study debunking claims that children of same-sex parents do just as well as children raised by heterosexual couples. That was the infamous Mark Regnerus study that has been thoroughly and scientifically debunked, over and over and over and over again. That doesn’t stop ‘Christian’ groups continuing to cite it whenever it suits their agenda. Here’s a couple of snippets from the investigation that exposed the flaws in Regnerus:
The most blatant example of highly suspicious responses is the case of a 25 year-old man who reports that his father had a romantic relationship with another man, but also reports that he (the respondent) was 7-feet 8-inches tall, weighed 88 pounds, was married 8 times and had 8 children. Other examples include a respondent who claims to have been arrested at age 1 and another who spent an implausibly short amount of time (less than 10 minutes) to complete the survey.
Regnerus does not check for, or apparently even consider the possibility of, inconsistent, uncertain, and unreliable cases in his data—even though some other items in the NFSS offer some limited means to assess this possibility. For example, Regnerus (2012c) acknowledges that, according to the aforementioned calendar data, over half of the respondents never lived with a parent’s same-sex partner, but fails to mention that many respondents—approximately one-third—also never lived with their same-sex parents or lived with them very briefly. [emphasis original]
Or in plain English, it’s worthless crap.
Philips compared gay sex to swimming in a sewer, in FAVA’s own newsletter which she circulated to politicians in New South Wales. At the time, the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobbys, Justin Koonen, said:
Of the two references the author cites on this issue, one is from the author’s own newsletter, while the other (the Journal of Human Sexuality) is a publication of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality [an anti-gay US-based ‘reparative’ therapy organisation claiming to ‘cure’ gays] . This has no scientific credibility whatsoever.
And finally, one further bit of background
FamilyVoice Australia may be small, but has some very wealthy backers, including Frank Seeley, owner and chairman of Seeley International, Australia’s biggest heating and air conditioning company (Breezair, Convair, Braemar, Coolair). FVA also works very closely with the Australian Christian Lobby, Fred Nile, and other fringe extremist ‘Christian’ groups.