Texas Bill to Protect Religious Freedom vs. Chicago Tribune Columnist
Texas Bill to Protect Religious Freedom vs. Chicago Tribune Columnist
Written By Laurie Higgins   |   06.06.17

Always tolerant, liberty-loving, diversity-desiring “progressives” are fuming about a Texas bill that would prevent child welfare services providers, foster families, and adoptive families from being penalized for their faith. While Leftists claim the intent of the bill, titled “The Freedom to Serve Children Act,” is to discriminate against non-Christians, homosexuals, and unmarried couples in child placement, it’s really about stopping discrimination against Christians for exercising their First Amendment rights.

Leftists who view the shifting sands of social science as their sacred texts for determining virtue and parental wisdom hold in contempt those who look instead to Scripture for guidance. Moreover, “progressives” are either ignorant, delusional, or deceitful when it comes to both the content and reliability of their sacred texts, including social science research that compares children raised by heterosexual parents to those raised by homosexual parents.

Heidi Stevens, who writes the “Balancing Act” column in the Chicago Tribune, which focuses on “work-life balance, relationships and parenting from a feminist perspective” provides a perfect exemplar of such “progressives.” Stevens issued a full-throated unequivocal condemnation of the Texas law that if passed would allow Christian foster care and adoption agencies to refuse to place babies and children in non-Christian homes and homes headed by homosexuals.

And what was her justification for this condemnation?

With startling certainty, absolutist Stevens proclaims that “the science is clear: Children raised by same-sex parents fare just as well as children raised by opposite-sex parents.” To prove that the science is clear, Stevens pointed to a review of studies conducted by Columbia Law School researchers that found that 75 of the 79 studies–that they selected–some dating back over 30 years, “concluded that kids whose parents are gay face no disadvantages.” According to the researchers Stevens cites, “‘Taken together, this research forms an overwhelming scholarly consensus, based on over three decades of peer-reviewed research, that having a gay or lesbian parent does not harm children.’”

Whoa, Nelly.

Based on analysis provided by Leftist researchers at Leftist Columbia Law School, Leftist Stevens proclaims that social science—as distinct from hard science—proves conclusively that no harm comes to children raised by homosexuals.

In addition to her absolute certainty based on woefully unstable social science that being deprived of either a mother or father has no effect on children, Stevens fails to define “harm.” For example, one of the studies cited found that “those [young adults] who had grown up in a lesbian family were more likely to consider the possibility of having lesbian or gay relationships, and to actually do so” than those who grew up with a mother and a father. Whether the increased likelihood of experimenting with homoerotic activity constitutes harm depends on one’s definition of harm.  Stevens seems to arrogate to herself the right to define harm for everyone.

So, let’s spend a moment looking at the one study that Stevens specifically singles out for the conclusiveness of its conclusions: the US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Psychological Adjustment of 17-Year-Old Adolescents  (NLLFS) published in 2010 in the journal Pediatrics.

Stevens wrote that the study “found that children raised by two lesbian mothers actually scored higher by social and academic measures than kids raised by opposite-sex parents. And they scored significantly lower in social problems, rule-breaking and aggressive behaviors.”

Curiously, Stevens omitted even a cursory description of the study, so here’s a bit about the study that may help illuminate whether Steven’s absolute confidence in the current state of research is warranted [emphases added]:

Between 1986 and 1992, 154 prospective lesbian mothers volunteered for a study that was designed to follow planned lesbian families from the index children’s conception until they reached adulthood. Data for the current report were gathered through interviews and Child Behavior Checklists that were completed by their mothers at corresponding times.

According to their mothers’ reports, the 17-year-old daughters and sons of lesbian mothers were rated significantly higher in social, school/academic, and total competence and significantly lower in social problems, rule-breaking, aggressive, and externalizing problem behavior than their age-matched counterparts in Achenbach’s normative sample of American youth.

Between 1986 and 1992, prospective lesbian mothers…were recruited via announcements that were distributed at lesbian events, in women’s bookstores, and in lesbian newspapers throughout the metropolitan areas of Boston, Washington, DC, and San Francisco.

The study’s own authors point to several study limitations that undermine Stevens’ claim that the research is conclusive:

1.)  It was a non-random sample.

2.)  “[S]ome…participants expressed fears that legislation could be enacted to rescind the parenting rights of lesbian mothers.” In other words, participants may be motivated to skew their answers out of fear they may lose their children.

3.)  “[T]he data did not include the Achenbach Youth Self Report or Teacher’s Report Form. A more comprehensive assessment would have included reports from all 3 sources.”

4.)  The study participants and the representatives from the “normative” group “are neither matched nor controlled for race/ethnicity or region of residence.”

If Stevens had bothered to read some of the comments following the study, she may have been surprised to learn that this study isn’t quite as conclusive as she assumes. Or perhaps she did read the comments, but for political reasons, chose to ignore the inconvenient ones. Here are two comments from physicians:

“The conclusions…that children of lesbian mothers demonstrate superior psychological adjustment compared to children of traditional families, even when the parents separate before the children are fully grown, are, on their face, a bit fantastic. Is the implication, that fathers are an undesirable component of the family, to be taken at face value? Such a conclusion, notwithstanding the caveats acknowledged by the authors in their discussion, begs for a better study with randomly selected subjects, objective measurement and followup, and appropriate control groups” (Robert P. Sundel, Pediatric Rheumatologist).

“I must take issue with the interpretation and conclusions of the authors as well as the decision by Pediatrics to publish the article. The study conclusions were based solely on the parental responses to the Child Behavior Checklist. Parents who complete CBCL’s on their own children for a study that could potentially report negative findings on the outcomes of children raised in lesbian homes have a clear, self-serving bias. The fact that the study chose not to include the self reported CBCL or the teacher CBCL is mentioned, but it begs the point? Why? Were the results contradictory? On the surface it appears that the study authors are only reporting data that supports a specific, predetermined view-point. I will not be referencing this article or results as valid until ALL of the data is made public for review” (Daniel Trementozzi, Pediatrician).

This study included an alarming statistic that Stevens didn’t mention: By 2009 when the study concluded, 56 percent of the lesbian couples were no longer together. While the study didn’t include divorce statistics for the traditional families, research shows that in 2009 the divorce rate in the United States was  somewhere between 3.5 percent – 16.9 percent. The average age of the lesbians at the conclusion of the NLLF study was 52. The divorce statistic for women ages 50-59 in 2009 was 41.1 percent. It appears that lesbian relationships are really, really  unstable.

Whenever studies emerge that undermine the sacred tenets of the homosexuality-affirming ideology, Leftists point to the organizations that funded the research to cast doubt on undesirable conclusions. So, who funded this particular study that Stevens finds as unassailable as evidence that Earth is round?  Here’s who:

1.)  The Gill Foundation: Tim Gill is the infamous multi-millionaire founder of QuarkXPress and homosexual activist who pours money into state legislative races around the country to transform state legislatures into pro-homosexual political machines.

2.)  The Lesbian Health Fund of the Gay Lesbian Medical Association

3.)  Horizons Foundation: A San Francisco grant-making organization whose motto is “Fueling the LGBTQ Movement.”

4.)  Roy Scrivner Fund of the American Psychological Foundation (which is a grant-making foundation associated with the American Psychological Association). To be eligible for a grant from this fund, one must “Demonstrate commitment to LGBT family issues” and provide a “description of” the “proposed work’s…expected outcomes.” This grant is named in honor of Roy Scrivner, a homosexual activist and the founder of “the APA division of Family Psychology’s Committee on Lesbian and Gay Family Issues.”

5.)  Special thanks were offered to Dr. Ellen Perrin, an activist in support of all things homosexual whom I mentioned in a recent article on the AAP; UCLA’s Williams Institute, an “LGBT” advocacy think tank; lesbian professor Esther Rothblum; and lesbian researcher Heidi Peyser who is raising twin sons with her partner. Peyser “holds a degree in LGBTQQ psychology, and has been a reviewer for the Journal of Lesbian Studies.”

Stevens dismisses research indicating that children raised by homosexuals suffer negative consequences and seems untroubled by the fact that some of the studies she cavalierly dismisses have fewer methodological flaws than studies she and her ideological compeers at Columbia Law School favor. As one would expect, Leftists critique research whose conclusions they don’t like with a vigor and rigor they don’t apply to research whose conclusions they do like.

For those who care about diversity and critical thinking, click here, here , here and here for more information.

Stevens, presumably a defender of diversity, is offended that theologically orthodox Christian foster care and adoption agencies might want to place children with families that affirm theological orthodoxy and that don’t affirm homoerotic behavior—behavior that is clearly condemned in both the Old and New Testaments:

As for the non-Christian part of the bill: We could take a look around the world, where Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and atheists have been successfully raising children for centuries. We could take a look around our country, where the same is true…. Christians don’t have a monopoly on kindness, understanding, commitment or unconditional love — all things children need from their parents. Neither do heterosexuals.

The problem with Stevens’ claim is that no one argues that Christians or heterosexuals “have a monopoly on kindness, understanding, commitment or unconditional love” or that homosexuals, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews or atheists are incapable of loving children. This is a quintessential straw man argument.

What theologically orthodox Christian child care organizations believe is that proper parenting requires more. Here again, we first need to define “successful.” Just as Stevens may believe that the successful raising of children includes more than just teaching them about kindness, understanding, commitment, or unconditional love, so too do many Christians (and Jews and Muslims). Many Christians believe that the successful raising of children includes teaching them about Jesus and teaching them moral virtues including virtues that pertain to sexuality.

Parents from the aforementioned groups will likely not raise up children in the way they should go with regard to faith in Christ as the only way to salvation and eternal life. And homosexuals will surely not teach children that homoerotic activity jeopardizes eternal life. Does it shock Stevens or anyone else that people who follow a faith tradition believe in its precepts?

Christians believe that great harm—indeed, the greatest harm imaginable—comes to those who do not accept the substitutionary work of Christ on the cross. Those in homosexual relationships will not teach children about the need of all to repent of sins articulated in Scripture.

Stevens believes that “there’s a problem with accepting state funding while discriminating against members of the public.” There is no problem with some child placement agencies helping children (and the state) by placing children in good homes. If Leftists really cared about the needs and welfare of children, they would not force organizations like Catholic Charities to stop serving children. How does increasing the burden on other agencies and making fewer homes available for children serve the needs of already suffering children? Once again, Leftists put the desires of homosexual adults above the needs of children.

The more serious constitutional issue pertains to the violation of First Amendment religious Free Exercise protections that Leftists pursue with an unholy passion. Denying state monies to only theologically orthodox Christian child placement organizations would be unconstitutional in that it would represent favoring either non-religious organizations over religious or favoring some religious organizations (e.g., “progressive” Christian organizations) over others. All child placement agencies “discriminate.” That is, they make distinctions about what criteria best serve the needs and rights of children. “Progressives” want the unilateral right to determine what those criteria are.

Stevens quotes from a 2013 statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that says—and I paraphrase—while the number of parents is important (i.e., the magic number 2), parental sexual differentiation is not. Maybe Stevens could write a column “libsplaining” why either mothers or fathers are dispensable but having two parents is important.

Because AAP leaders are water carriers for “progressivism,” AAP statements have no credibility on matters homosexual and “trans.” As I wrote in April, fewer than two dozen AAP members create and vote on policy, and the vast majority of members see policy statements for the first time when the public sees them via press releases.

Stevens concludes with this amusing Deep Thought: “Children deserve devotion, not dogma.” Once more for the road, some definitions:

Dogma: A principle, belief, or statement of idea or opinion, esp. one authoritatively considered to be absolute truth.

Dogmatism: Unfounded positiveness in matters of opinion; arrogant assertion of opinions as truth.

Stevens looks to Columbia Law School researchers as the authoritative arbiters of truth. Others look to the Bible.

Children deserve devotion to Scripture, not “progressive” dogmatism.

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Laurie Higgins
Laurie Higgins became the Illinois Family Institute’s Cultural Affairs Writer in the fall of 2008. Prior to working for the IFI, Laurie worked full-time for eight years in Deerfield High School’s writing center in Deerfield, Illinois. Her cultural commentaries have been carried on a number of pro-family websites nationally and internationally, and Laurie has appeared on numerous radio programs across the country. In addition, Laurie has spoken at the Council for National Policy and educational conferences sponsored by the Constitutional Coalition. She has been married to her husband for forty-four years, and they have four grown children and ten grandchildren....
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