Daughters of Lesbian Parents More Likely to Engage in Same-Sex Behavior and Identify as Bisexual

I thought I'd republish this from NARTH for several reasons.

First, it flies in the face of those who claim NARTH is unscientific. It does that mostly via the cautionary words contained below.

NARTH does not pounce upon "junk" science or otherwise to support NARTH's various positions regarding same-sex attraction. It readily points out the need for large sample sizes and more rigorous methodology in studies that both may support and refute NARTH's current positions.

Second, if further research supports the general notions suggested by this small sampling, and I believe it largely will, it shows that "born that way" is nonsense, at least concerning the vast majority of humanity. Environment has always had much more to do with, if not entirely to do with, homosexual behavior.

My own impression as to what is happening is that fluidity is the operative word and that most homosexuals are still on their best behavior while they continue convincing/duping the masses, even though many have already started acting decidedly cocky and very fascistic.

For the record, I'm not a "conservative," Republican "evangelical" Christian. I'm non-secular. I've never been a Republican. Evangelical doesn't mean a literalist or Fundamentalist, though I do believe in miracles.

Peace, and enjoy:

The NARTH Bulletin

November, 2011

Reviewed by Christopher Rosik, Ph.D
New Study:
Daughters of Lesbian Parents More Likely to Engage in Same-Sex Behavior and Identify as Bisexual

Recent findings from the longest-running, prospective study of same-sex parented families indicate that 17-year-old daughters of lesbian mothers who were conceived via donor insemination were more likely to report same-sex behavior and identify as bisexual than daughters of heterosexual parents (Gartrell, Bos, Goldberg, 2011).

Nearly 20% of the sample of 39 girls from lesbian families reported a bisexual identity, while none of the girls self-rated as predominantly or exclusively homosexual. Same-sex sexual contact with other girls was reported by 15.1% of lesbian parented daughters compared to 5.1% of daughters from heterosexual families.

No differences were found between the sample of 39 sons from lesbian families and a matched sample of sons of heterosexual parents on these dimensions. Among the sons from lesbian families, 2.7% reported a bisexual identity and 5.4% indicated they were predominantly or exclusively homosexual.

Sexual contact with girls was reported by only 37.8% of sons from lesbian-parented families. This is significantly less that the 58.8% of boys from heterosexual families who acknowledged such activity.

In addition, the authors found that among the lesbian-parented families, not a single adolescent reported physical or sexual abuse by a parent or other caregiver. Thus the study's authors concluded that adolescents raised in lesbian families are less likely than their peers to experience victimization by parents and caregivers.

These findings add to a growing body of literature that suggest that children of lesbian and gay parents are more inclined than their peers to explore same-sex sexual behavior and same-sex orientation (Biblarz & Stacey, 2010; Schrumm, 2010a). That this may occur especially among daughters is consistent with the research on fluidity in sexual attractions and identity among lesbian women (Kinnish, Strassberg, & Turner, 2005).

Comment

While this small study is valuable as a starting point for longitudinal research into same-sex parenting, professionals and policy makers should be very wary of making any meaningful conclusions from its findings. Serious methodological limitations also argue against making sweeping generalizations. As is the case for the vast majority of studies in this area, the sample size is quite small, constituting only 78 adolescents. The sample of lesbian parents is self-selected and appears to be different from the general population on important demographics such as socioeconomic status and educational attainment. Demand characteristics (i.e., external influences such as political goals that might motivate study participants to respond in a particular manner) are not considered or assessed by the study's authors with respect to the lesbian mothers or their adolescent children.

Along these lines, Schrumm (2010b) noted, "By using a comparison group of children of heterosexual parents who had no similar motivation to participate in research, the study design may have confounded group differences with social-desirability response bias, an issue which Gatrell and her colleagues acknowledged in their first report" (p. 964). For all these reasons and more, the authors' conclusions should not be generalized beyond this small, non-representative sample of lesbian parents and their adolescent children.

It is also worth noting that the authors give particular significance to their finding that none of the lesbian-parented adolescents reported physical or sexual abuse by a parent or other caregiver. They subsequently assert that "This finding contradicts the notion, offered in opposition to parenting by gay and lesbian people, that same-sex parents are likely to abuse their offspring sexually" (p. 1204). They compare this finding favorably with statistics from national surveys of adolescents in the U.S. that report 26.1% experienced physical abuse and 8.3% reported sexual assault by a parent or other caregiver.

To explain the discrepancy regarding accounts of abuse reported by the lesbian- versus heterosexual-parented families, Gatrell and colleagues (2011) observe that

"...most of the [lesbian-parented] adolescents grew up in households in which no adult males resided. Since the sexual abuse of children that occurs within the home is largely perpetrated by adult heterosexual males, growing up in lesbian-headed households may protect children and adolescents from these types of assault. In addition, corporal punishment is less commonly used by lesbian mothers as a disciplinary measure than by heterosexual fathers" (pp. 1204-1205).

These suggestions may well have some merit, but what is glaringly left unconsidered by the authors is the logical corollary to their reasoning, i.e., that if these factors are present, then might we also predict adolescent children in gay (male) parented families would report greater physical and sexual abuse by a parent or caregiver than their counterparts in heterosexual families? Unless one assumes that child abuse is primarily a function of sexual orientation rather than gender, it is hard to understand how this corollary would not be predicted. Since studies of gay-headed families are extremely sparse, there may well be no research available that addresses this potential concern.

Certainly the Gatrell, et al. (2011) study provides some intriguing though entirely non-generalizable findings that are consistent with the hypothesis that non-heterosexual experiences and identities are more common among daughters of lesbian families than those raised in heterosexual families. However, the study's most interesting feature may be what it seems to imply but leaves unspoken about same-sex parenting by gay men.

Hopefully, future researchers will have the fortitude to examine such questions and begin to fill the large holes that exist in this literature.

References

Biblarz, T., & Stacey, J. (2010). How does the gender of parents matter? Journal of Marriage and the Family, 73, 3-22.

Gartell, N. K., Bos, H. M. W., & Goldberg, N. G. (2011). Adolescents of the U.S. national longitudinal lesbian family study: Sexual orientation, sexual behavior, and sexual risk exposure. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 1199-1209.

Kinnish, K. K., Strassberg, D. S., & Turner, C. W. (2005). Sex differences in the flexibility of sexual orientation: A multidimensional retrospective assessment. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 34, 173-183.

Schumm, W. R. (2010a). Children of homosexuals more apt to be homosexuals? A reply to Morrison and to Cameron based on an examination of multiple sources of data. Journal of Biosocial Science, 42, 721-742.

Schumm, W. R. (2010b). Stastical requirements for properly investigating a null hypothesis. Psychological Reports, 107, 953-971.

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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