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Study find young adults with lesbian parents more likely to report same-sex attraction
2019-03-21

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In the latest findings from the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study, a new analysis finds that the 25-year-old children of lesbian parents are more likely than their peers to report same-sex attraction, sexual minority identity and same-sex experiences.

The 25-year-olds are participants in the ongoing U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study ( NLLFS ), which has followed the same cohort of offspring from conception to adulthood. It has had a 92% retention rate since it began in 1986. The current analysis compared 76 offspring of lesbian parents and 76 demographically matched participants from the National Survey of Family Growth ( NSFG ).

"Our 2018 study in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that adults who were conceived through donor insemination and raised by lesbian parents are as psychologically healthy as their peers," said lead author Nanette Gartrell, MD, Visiting Distinguished Scholar at the Williams Institute. "Our current study suggests that being raised by sexual minority parents may lead to more diverse sexual expression for their adult daughters and sons."

Key findings

31% of female and 73% of male NLLFS offspring reported being only attracted to the opposite sex, compared to 54% and 91% of NSFG females and males.

54% of female and 33% of male NLLFS offspring reported having a same-sex sexual experience, compared to 38% and 9% of NSFG females and males.

70% of female and nearly 90% of male NLLFS offspring identified as heterosexual or straight, compared to 88% and 98% of NSFG females and males.

Among the NLLFS female offspring, the percentage identifying as sexual minorities decreased from 49% to 30% between the ages of 17 and 25. In contrast, the percentage of NLLFS females who had engaged in same-sex sexual behavior increased from 15% to 54% in the same period.

The percentage of NLLFS male offspring identifying as sexual minorities decreased from 22% to 10% between the ages of 17 and 25, and the percentage reporting same-sex sexual experiences increased from 6% to 33%.

"The offspring of sexual minority parents may have more expansive perspectives on sexuality because they were raised by parents who are nonjudgmental about their exploration of non-heterosexual relationships," said co-author Henny Bos, Ph.D., Professor of Child Development and Education, and Chair in Sexual and Gender Diversity in Families and Youth at the University of Amsterdam. "They may also be more attuned to their own same-sex sexual feelings because of the environment in which they were raised."

This is the 24th publication from data collected in the NLLFS. The report, "Sexual Attraction, Sexual Identity, and Same-sex Sexual Experiences of Adult Offspring in the US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study ( NLLFS )" appears in Archives of Sexual Behavior and is co-authored by Nanette Gartrell, M.D., Visiting Distinguished Scholar, along with Henny Bos, Ph.D., former Visiting International Scholar at the Williams Institute, and Audrey Koh, M.D., Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, University of California, San Francisco.

—From a Williams Institute press release

The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, a think tank on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, is dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research with real-world relevance.


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