Volume 12 - 2021
Researching Against the Cultural Tide: An Interview with Walter R. Schumm and D. Paul Sullins, pages 48-60
Christopher H. Rosik, Ph.D.
There are many challenges to doing research in a controversial and contentious arena, particularly when one is finding and interpreting results that may go against the tide of “conventional wisdom,” not to mention the policy interests of powerful mental health organizations, advocacy groups, and government agencies. The study of sexual orientation and gender certainly constitutes a supreme example of where such challenges are to be found. Yet there are a few researchers who have had the courage and statistical acumen to enter into this fray. In this article, I interview two preeminent researchers who have sometimes challenged the “scientific consensus” of the field in this arena. Walter R. Schumm, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Applied Family Science in the Kansas State University Department of Applied Human Sciences, has conducted research on gender identity, sexual identity, sexual attraction, and same-sex relationships and parenting since 1999. D. Paul Sullins, Ph.D., is with the Leo Initiative for Social Research, Catholic University, and the Ruth Institute, Lake Charles, LA. In this interview, Drs. Schumm and Sullins reflect on how they became researchers, changes they have seen in the field over the years, challenges and hopeful signs within this area of research, and some suggestions for others who may be thinking about doing controversial research.
Keywords: Research, sexual orientation, gender, controversy, career guidance