Sex Roles

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Children’s Gender-Typed Behavior from Early to Middle Childhood in Adoptive Families with Lesbian, Gay, and Heterosexual Parents

  • Rachel H. Farr
  • Samuel T. Bruun
  • Kathleen M. Doss
  • Charlotte J. Patterson
Original Article


Gender-typed behaviors—both gender-conforming and nonconforming—were investigated longitudinally among children in 106 adoptive U.S. families with lesbian, gay, and heterosexual parents at two times (Wave 1, preschool-age; Wave 2, school-age) over 5 years. At Wave 1 (W1), parents reported on children’s gender-typed behavior using the Pre-School Activities Inventory (PSAI; Golombok and Rust 1993), and children’s gender-typed toy play was evaluated using observational methods. At Wave 2 (W2), children reported on their own gender-typed behavior using the Children’s Occupations, Activities, and Traits Personal Measure (COAT-PM; Liben and Bigler 2002). Observations of children’s gender-conforming toy play and parents’ reports of children’s gender nonconformity (PSAI) in early childhood (W1) were associated with children’s self-reports of gender nonconformity (COAT-PM) in middle childhood (W2); toy play was most strongly predictive of gender nonconformity 5 years later. Children’s gender-typed behavior also varied by age and gender at both time points, but no significant differences were found as a function of parental sexual orientation across time. Informative to ongoing debates about same-sex parenting, our findings indicate that among children reared by lesbian, gay, and heterosexual parents, gender-typing appears to be similar, and predominantly gender-conforming, across early to middle childhood.


Adoptive parents Early childhood development Gender nonconformity Gender roles Sexual orientation Toy selection 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rachel H. Farr
    • 1
  • Samuel T. Bruun
    • 1
  • Kathleen M. Doss
    • 2
  • Charlotte J. Patterson
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  2. 2.School of MedicineUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  3. 3.Departments of Psychology and Women, Gender, & SexualityUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

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