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Public records lawsuit filed against UCF

April 17, 2013

According to UCF’s Knight News, LGBT activist, journalist and blogger John Becker filed a lawsuit against UCF seeking access to public records related to a study by researcher Mark Regenerus titled “New Family Structures.” The study, which was cited in oral arguments before the Supreme Court last month, concluded that “children appear most apt to succeed well as adults—on multiple counts and across a variety of domains—when they spend their entire childhood with their married mother and father, and especially when the parents remain married to the present day.”

The study, funded by the conservative Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation, determined that kids raised by same-sex parents don’t tend to be as successful as kids raised in traditional families that include parents of the opposite sex. In a piece published in Slate, Regenerus insisted that the study wasn’t an indictment of gay partners becoming parents. Rather, he insisted, the takeaway message was not totally clear:

This study arrives in the middle of a season that’s already exhibited plenty of high drama over same-sex marriage, whether it’s DOMA, the president’s evolving perspective, Prop 8 pinball, or finished and future state ballot initiatives. The political take-home message of the NFSS study is unclear, however. On the one hand, the instability detected in the NFSS could translate into a call for extending the relative security afforded by marriage to gay and lesbian couples. On the other hand, it may suggest that the household instability that the NFSS reveals is just too common among same-sex couples to take the social gamble of spending significant political and economic capital to esteem and support this new (but tiny) family form while Americans continue to flee the stable, two-parent biological married model, the far more common and accomplished workhorse of the American household, and still—according to the data, at least—the safest place for a kid.

The study was published in a journal called Social Science Research, which is based at UCF. Its editor is a UCF faculty member, and according to Becker, “many of the records relating to the matter are on the servers located at UCF. Becker attempted to obtain the records from the university in early March, but his request was denied on April 1.

According to Becker, the study’s backing by conservative foundations makes its findings questionable, and he says conflicts-of-interest were present in the peer-review process. He also charges that the paper was intentionally rushed to publication so it would come out before the 2012 presidential election.

Becker says he wants the documents that are in UCF’s possession to discover what those conflicts of interest might be and what the true story is behind the publishing of the study.

“Finding the truth is additionally important because the paper was prominently cited last month by opponents of same-sex marriage in briefs and arguments before the Supreme Court,” he said in a release posted to his site.

Knight News notes that it has also filed suit against UCF to obtain public records recently. On Feb. 21, it announced that it had sued the school to obtain documents related to UCF’s handling of hazing scandals. UCF had denied Knight News access to the documents it sought.

“The lawsuit is aimed at showing UCF’s continued pattern of noncompliance with the Public Records Act and other Florida Statutes towards,” the student publication wrote in its own coverage of the suit. “The award-winning media outlet’s lawsuit also seeks a permanent mandatory injunction as a solution to the roadblocks to public information put up by UCF.”

For more information on who John Becker is, here’s a YouTube video documentary about his work investigation so-called “reparative therapy” programs that try to “cure” gay men and women of being gay.



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