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Abstract

Until the 1950’s, it was widely assumed that homosexuality was a pathological condition. Even after leading social science organizations rejected that assumption in the early 1970’s, many believed that LGBTQ parents would not be able to parent as well as heterosexual parents. Further social science research has generally rejected the latter assumption as well. Using a complex citation network method of assessing scientific consensus, Adams and Light (2015) concluded that consensus on same-sex or LGBTQ parenting had been achieved by the late 1990’s and that the consensus formed was that children’s outcomes were no different than for children of heterosexual parents. We have proposed a more direct and simple measure of scientific consensus, using social science literature reviews. We evaluated 72 social science reviews of the literature between 2001 and 2017, based on English language social science journal sources, in the area of same-sex or LGBTQ parenting, with a focus on whether the authors concluded if there was any apparent association between parental and child sexual orientations. Over 90% of the reviews assessed concluded that there was no association between parent and child sexual orientations, demonstrating a clear scientific consensus on the issue since at least 2001. The small minority of reviews that concluded otherwise often had issues that might lead many scholars to discredit the validity of their conclusions. Our results provide another approach for assessing scientific consensus in the social sciences and confirm the findings of Adams and Light (2015), despite our different methodologies, about the development of scientific consensus in the area of same-sex parenting, that it was probably achieved by the late 1990’s. Future research might investigate the existence of similar consensus in medical or legal journals prior to 2001 or take the quality of literature reviews into account, including their consideration of intersectionality.

Note on the Author

Walter Shumm is Professor of Applied Family Science in the School of Family Studies and Human Services at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas. His research interests include military families, LGBT research, applied research methodologies, and Islamic doctrines and history.

Duane Crawford is Professor of Applied Family Science in the School of Family Studies and Human Services at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas. His research interests include work-family relationships, family leisure interaction patterns, relationship companionship, and interpersonal relationships.

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