South Australia’s Apology for Forced Adoption

To all those hurt we say sorry… We apologise for the lies, the fear, the silence, the deceptions. We hear you now, we acknowledge your pain and we offer you our unreserved, sincere regret and sorrow for those injustices… We seek to reconcile the South Australian community with these people who have suffered so much.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill delivers a public apology to the parents, children and communities affected by the State-sanctioned practice of forcing unwed mothers to give up their babies. It is estimated that 17,000 children in South Australia were adopted before 1980 “and some of these were forced adoptions.” Forced adoptions were a common practice around Australia between the 1950s and the 1970s, affecting around 150,000 unmarried mothers across the country.

Source: SBS Australia.

Bad Methods Used Against LGBTQIA Families

It seems to me that, rather than trying to answer questions when you don’t have the necessary data to do it, perhaps you should ask different questions. Certainly, we all do the best with the data we can get, but it is never alright to draw conclusions that your data don’t support—and Regenerus’ data simply cannot answer the question he set out to ask. And when your research questions the legitimacy of people’s families—my family—I demand higher research standards.

In Sociology Lens, a blogger named only Amanda critiques the new study by sociologist Mark Regenerus. Regenerus has published a paper arguing that children from heterosexual parents are better off than children raised by lesbian and gay parents. I recently posted that academic research actually shows that this is not true. Studies actually show that children of LGBTQI families are slightly better off than kids from heterosexual families with respect to aspiring to more progressive gender roles. In other respects they are similar, when you factor in class differences.

Amanda notes that Regenerus’ research on gay and lesbian families has produced contradictory findings due to the study’s poorly conceived methodology. Simply put: Regenerus’ methods for data collection do not match his research questions (meaning the methods are invalid). Regenerus defines homosexuality according to anyone who has had a same-sex experience, without taking into account their subjective identities or family experiences. Regenerus has not controlled for the fact that some children from gay and lesbian families are being raised in single parent households. This generally puts any child at an economic disadvantage when compared to dual parent households. Amanda argues Regenerus’ findings are tinged with homophobia, possibly influenced by Regenerus’ ties to the Christian site that hosts his blog.

Sociologists are not above having their politics influence their research interests – including you, me and everyone else. We do not have to agree with one another; however we are trained to make our assumptions explicit and to have our methods match our research questions. I know many sociologists who conduct studies that go against my political and personal beliefs and yet I can engage in useful and challenging discussion because the data and methods warrant attention. Bad science still warrants attention, but for all the wrong reasons. What a shame that Regenerus’ lax methodology will only fuel public fear and misunderstanding, rather than making a contribution to empirically-informed debate.

Read Amanda’s article at Sociology Lens.

World Autism Awareness Day


On 2 April, World Autism Awareness Day, watch this special video featuring United Nations staff whose families have been touched by autism. The annual observance highlights the need to help improve the lives of children and adults who suffer from the disorder so they can lead full and meaningful lives.

Also launched this week are new stamps from the UN Postal Administration designed by artists with autism.