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Sexual Attraction, Sexual Identity, and Same-Sex Sexual Experiences of Adult Offspring in the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study


The U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study has followed offspring with sexual minority parents from conception into adulthood. It was initiated in 1986, and it has a 92% retention rate to date. In the current investigation, the 25-year-old offspring answered questions about sexual attraction, sexual identity, and sexual experiences; their responses were compared with those of same-age adults from a population-based survey. The analytic samples consisted of 76 offspring of lesbian parents and 76 demographically matched participants from the National Survey of Family Growth. All 152 respondents were 25 years old, 48.7% were female, 90.8% identified as White, 9.2% were people of color, and all had attended at least some college. Although most respondents in each sample identified as “heterosexual or straight,” compared to their matched counterparts in the population-based survey, the female and male offspring of lesbian parents were significantly more to likely to report same-sex attraction, sexual minority identity, and same-sex experience. These findings suggest that adult offspring from planned lesbian families may be more likely than their peers to demonstrate diversity in sexual attraction, identity, and expression.

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We thank the participants and their families, as well as Dr. Loes van Rijn van Gelderen for assistance with the digital platform and Dr. Esther Rothblum for invaluable comments.

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Correspondence to Nanette Gartrell.

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The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose. No funding was secured for this study. The authors have no financial relationships relevant to this article to disclose.

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This study had IRB 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.

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

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Gartrell, N., Bos, H. & Koh, A. Sexual Attraction, Sexual Identity, and Same-Sex Sexual Experiences of Adult Offspring in the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study. Arch Sex Behav 48, 1495–1503 (2019).

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  • U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study
  • Adult offspring
  • Sexual attraction
  • Sexual orientation identity
  • Same-sex sexual experiences
  • Sexual minorities