(How) Does The Sexual Orientation Of Parents Matter?

Posted: 20 Aug 2001  

Judith Stacey

University of Southern California - Department of Sociology

Timothy Biblarz

University of Southern California - Department of Sociology

Abstract

Whereas opponents of lesbian and gay parent rights claim that children with lesbigay parents are at higher risk for a variety of negative outcomes, most research in psychology concludes, somewhat defensively, that there are no differences at all in developmental outcomes between children raised by lesbigay and heterosexual parents. This paper challenges this defensive conceptual framework and analyzes the ways in which heterosexism has hampered intellectual progress in the field. We discuss limitations in the definitions, samples, and analyses of the studies to date. Next we explore findings from 21 studies and demonstrate that researchers frequently downplay findings of difference regarding, in particular, children's gender and sexual preferences and behavior that could instead stimulate important theoretical questions. We propose a less defensive, more sociologically-informed analytic framework for investigating these issues that focuses on 1) the role of parental gender vis a vis sexual orientation in influencing children's gender development; 2) the role of selection effects produced by homophobia that may intervene in the relationships between parental sexual orientations and child outcomes; and 3) the relationship between parental sexual orientations and children's sexual preferences and behaviors.

Suggested Citation

Stacey, Judith and Biblarz, Timothy, (How) Does The Sexual Orientation Of Parents Matter?. American Sociological Review, Vol. 66, No. 2, April 2001. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=276907

Judith Stacey (Contact Author)

University of Southern California - Department of Sociology ( email )

Los Angeles, CA 90089-2539
United States
(213) 740-3548 (Phone)
(310) 392-6420 (Fax)

Timothy Biblarz

University of Southern California - Department of Sociology ( email )

Los Angeles, CA 90089-2539
United States

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