Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 47, Issue 6, pp 1825–1837 | Cite as

Gay and Bisexual Adolescent Boys’ Perspectives on Parent–Adolescent Relationships and Parenting Practices Related to Teen Sex and Dating

  • Brian A. FeinsteinEmail author
  • Matthew Thomann
  • Ryan Coventry
  • Kathryn Macapagal
  • Brian Mustanski
  • Michael E. Newcomb
Original Paper


Close parent–adolescent relationships and specific parenting practices (e.g., communication about sex, monitoring) are associated with reduced sexual risk behavior among heterosexual youth. Despite gay/bisexual male youth being at increased risk of HIV, little is known about parental influences on their sexual behavior. As such, the goal of the current study was to examine parent–adolescent relationships and parenting practices related to teen sex and dating from the perspective of gay/bisexual adolescent boys. Online focus groups were conducted with 52 gay/bisexual male youth ages 14–17 years. Most gay/bisexual adolescent boys felt that their sexual orientation had an influence on their relationships with their parents and discussions about sex/dating. Although some felt that their relationships improved after coming out, a larger percentage reported that it put strain on their relationships. Discussions about sex/dating generally decreased after coming out, but some youth described positive conversations with their parents. Many reported that their parents struggled with whether or not to adapt parenting practices (e.g., rules about dating) after they came out. Youth consistently noted that parent–adolescent relationships and parenting practices depended on the adolescent’s level of outness. Findings have important implications for refining HIV prevention programs for gay/bisexual adolescent boys, especially interventions that include parents.


Gay Bisexual Adolescents HIV Sexual orientation 



Funding was provided by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (Grant No. R01MD009561; PIs: Fisher and Mustanski) and the Third Coast Center for AIDS Research (PI: Newcomb). Brian A. Feinstein’s time was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (Grant No. F32DA042708). The content of this article is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the view of the funding agencies.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical Social SciencesNorthwestern University Feinberg School of MedicineChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and WellbeingNorthwestern UniversityChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Anthropology and SociologyKalamazoo CollegeKalamazooUSA

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