Original Paper

Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 40, Issue 6, pp 1199-1209

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Adolescents of the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Sexual Orientation, Sexual Behavior, and Sexual Risk Exposure

  • Nanette K. GartrellAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry and Center of Excellence in Women’s Health, University of CaliforniaGraduate School of Pedagogical and Educational Sciences/Research Institute of Child Development and Education, Faculty of School and Behavioral Sciences, University of AmsterdamUCLA School of Law, The Williams Institute Email author 
  • , Henny M. W. BosAffiliated withGraduate School of Pedagogical and Educational Sciences/Research Institute of Child Development and Education, Faculty of School and Behavioral Sciences, University of Amsterdam
  • , Naomi G. GoldbergAffiliated withUCLA School of Law, The Williams Institute

Abstract

This study assessed Kinsey self-ratings and lifetime sexual experiences of 17-year-olds whose lesbian mothers enrolled before these offspring were born in the longest-running, prospective study of same-sex parented families, with a 93% retention rate to date. Data for the current report were gathered through online questionnaires completed by 78 adolescent offspring (39 girls and 39 boys). The adolescents were asked if they had ever been abused and, if so, to specify by whom and the type of abuse (verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual). They were also asked to specify their sexual identity on the Kinsey scale, between exclusively heterosexual and exclusively homosexual. Lifetime sexual behavior was assessed through questions about heterosexual and same-sex contact, age of first sexual experience, contraception use, and pregnancy. The results revealed that there were no reports of physical or sexual victimization by a parent or other caregiver. Regarding sexual orientation, 18.9% of the adolescent girls and 2.7% of the adolescent boys self-rated in the bisexual spectrum, and 0% of girls and 5.4% of boys self-rated as predominantly-to-exclusively homosexual. When compared with age- and gender-matched adolescents of the National Survey of Family Growth, the study offspring were significantly older at the time of their first heterosexual contact, and the daughters of lesbian mothers were significantly more likely to have had same-sex contact. These findings suggest that adolescents reared in lesbian families are less likely than their peers to be victimized by a parent or other caregiver, and that daughters of lesbian mothers are more likely to engage in same-sex behavior and to identify as bisexual.

Keywords

Lesbian families Adolescents Sexual orientation Sexual behavior Victimization Same-sex parents