Below, I am going to explain how Mark Regnerus’s University of Texas at Austin is guilty of collusion – (with Regnerus and his religious anti-gay bigot funders) – in political gay bashing worldwide on the basis of “The New Family Structures Study.”
First, though, I shall remind readers that UT has a recent record of additional, major academic ethics failings. In February, 2012, UT’s Professor Dr. Charles Groat released a study of fracking wastewater concluding that fracking wastewater is non-toxic. Public interest groups complained that Groat had undisclosed conflicts of interest, including that he was on the board of a fracking industry company and held $500,000 in its stock. At first, UT attempted to sweep the dirt under the carpet, much as it presently continues to do with Regnerus and the NFSS. However, the Public Accountability Initiative prepared a detailed report about Groat’s conflicts of interest. UT then agreed for the situation to be reviewed by an independent outside investigator, which found weaknesses in UT’s ethics regulations.
I am repeating that, so it really sinks in; at the same time that UT was colluding with Regnerus on the anti-gay NFSS, an independent outside investigator found weaknesses in UT’s ethics regulations.
By the end of 2012, both Groat and the Director of UT’s Energy Institute were gone from the university.
As of this writing – (with the Regnerus paper being used as an anti-gay weapon in US courts and abroad, including in Russia) — UT’s own site for the NFSS makes the false claim that the study’s findings involve young adults raised by “same-sex parents.” The NFSS data, meanwhile, in reality do not allow anybody to determine whether any of the respondents were raised by a gay parent, much less by “same-sex parents.” The NFSS was routed through UT’s Population Research Center, whose Director is Dr. Mark D. Hayward. In June, 2012, Hayward was among the signers of a letter to the journal “Social Science Research” expressing concerns about the Regnerus paper’s lack of intellectual integrity as well as about the suspicious circumstances of its publication. Since then, however, Hayward has refused to answer media inquiries about why UT’s Population Research Center continues to make false claims for the NFSS.
In response to some of this reporter’s Public Information Act requests, UT on October 2, 2012 sent a letter to the Texas Attorney General seeking exceptions to the requests. In that letter, UT describes itself as a co-investor in the study, writing, for example; “As a public institution, the University receives and utilizes state funds; therefore, it is the University’s responsibility to protect the fruits of the state’s investment by shielding from disclosure the details of its research efforts” and “To release this information would facilitate third party appropriation of the University’s and Dr. Regnerus’s intellectual property.”
There is thus some appearance that with its government-funded, institutional support of the NFSS, UT could be guilty of violating the separation of church and state. Regnerus and his funders are anti-gay religious bigots. Luis Tellez, President of Regnerus’s main funder The Witherspoon Institute – (itself a non-scientific, Catholic anti-gay hate group) – specified that the NFSS would have to be carried out by persons opposed to civil rights for gay people. Documentation had through Public Information Act requests makes abundantly clear that in the genesis and carrying out of the NFSS, there was a directive from the anti-gay religious funder for the NFSS to produce a pre-desired, anti-gay result, and that Regnerus, himself an anti-gay religious bigot, was on board with producing that result.
Additionally, Tellez is a regional representative of the Catholic Church of Rome’s secretive Opus Dei organization; and the NFSS has been very heavily promoted around the world by the Catholic Church and entities related to it. When Regnerus appeared in a video with Jim Garlow, promoting the NFSS, Garlow alleged that Regnerus’s work proves the truth of the Bible – Regnerus did not make a peep of protest about that unscientific claim. The kingpin pulling all the strings on Witherspoon’s Regnerus marionette – W. Bradford Wilcox – colluded with Regnerus on study design, data collection and data analyses, steered the paper to the journal “Social Science Research” where he is on the editorial board, and then despite his mountainous conflicts of interest, including his fiduciary conflicts of interest, peer reviewed the Regnerus paper. Not a single one of the Regnerus paper’s three peer reviewers is trained or experienced in LGBT sciences, and all three have conflicts of interest. Additionally, in August, 2011 – before NFSS data collection occurred – Wilcox and Regnerus took Witherspoon money to travel to Colorado where for a full day, they met with the anti-gay religious bigot Glenn Stanton of Focus on the Family to discuss NFSS media and P.R. promotions. As if that were not enough, Regnerus’s main NFSS assistant at UT is Elleyn Arevalo, an anti-gay religious bigot who collected large sums of NFSS money and traveled the United States promoting the study prior to its release.
Shockingly, in its October 2, 2012 letter to the Texas AG, UT confesses that it was involved — directly with Regnerus — in strategizing over putting favorable spin on the NFSS, long before it was published. What that means is that at the same time Regnerus was strategizing with his religious anti-gay bigot funders and his publisher over how to promote the NFSS, he was also scheming with UT officials over how to promote it. UT’s letter reveals that the university anticipated negative reactions, including from students, and that it feared for the branding implications of the university as a whole. Those are far from being the normal steps a university would take to explain a scientific study’s findings to the public.
One can easily understand why UT was panicked over how the NFSS would impact the university’s branding. Neither Witherspoon nor Regnerus have a scientific view of homosexuality. Instead of seeing homosexuality, scientifically, as a universally occurring, normal human variant, they view it religiously, as a “sin.” To put this further into context, the Catholic Catechism says that masturbation is an inherently and gravely disordered act. As happened, in his NFSS survey, Regnerus asked respondents if they had ever masturbated and also, when they last masturbated. What that could credibly have to do, good or bad, with same-sex parents’ child outcomes, nobody knows. Regnerus, meanwhile, has promoted the NFSS through umpteen anti-gay Catholic groups, including NOM’s Ruth Institute, and he has used his paper as the basis of an amicus brief telling the Supreme Court of the United States that gays are not human enough to deserve civil rights. UT officials would do well to note Regnerus’s direct involvement with NOM, and then to note that NOM has sponsored anti-gay hate rallies where its chosen speakers yell through megaphones that homosexuals are “worthy to death.”
The scheming at UT to promote the NFSS and to protect the university’s investment in it went all the way to the top. In UT’s letter to the AG, for example, we read: “the documents also reveal the thought processes of key administrative staff, such as the Office of Media Relations and the Office of Public Affairs, as communicated to senior administrators.”
On August 28, 2012, I first uncovered that Witherspoon’s Wilcox was involved in NFSS study design. I let UT officials know that immediately; they could not have cared less. The next day, August 29, UT officials released the results of their sham inquiry into academic misconduct complaints against Regnerus. In their press release, UT officials falsely claimed that they had adequately searched Regnerus’s NFSS-related communications to determine that Regnerus was not guilty of academic misconduct. Meanwhile, though, among Dr. Philip Cohen’s reasons for boycotting the journal that published Regnerus — Elsevier’s “Social Science Research” — is that “the author lied in the paper about the involvement of the institute that funded it.”
I am going to repeat that for emphasis; “the author lied in the paper about the involvement of the institute that funded it.” Given that Regnerus’s lied in his paper — “about the involvement of the” anti-gay religious “institute that funded it” – it absolutely defies belief that UT officials would not consider Regnerus’s lying to constitute academic misconduct.
Where UT told the Texas Attorney General that it is a co-investor in the New Family Structures Study, the university was confessing that it has a conflict of interest in carrying out any inquiry or investigation involving the study. With innocent LGBTers all over the world being victimized through Witherspoon’s and Regnerus’s anti-gay junk science, independent outside investigators should be doing a comprehensive investigation of Regnerus’s and UT’s involvement in the NFSS.
With regards to Regnerus and the “New Family Structures Study,” UT’s ethical status is where it was when school officials were trying to sweep Groat-related dirt under the carpet; swirling away in the toilet. Shame on UT!