New research from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law examines the demographic and mental health differences among cisgender lesbian, bisexual, and queer (LBQ) women with and without children.
Findings show that nearly one-quarter of LBQ women ages 18 to 59 and an estimated 24% of female same-sex couples have had children. Parents were more likely to be bisexual, in a relationship with a man, and non-urban. In addition, bisexual parents reported greater psychological distress, less life satisfaction and happiness, and less connection to the LGBT community than lesbian parents. Parents with other identities perceived more social support from friends and reported lower levels of internalized homophobia than bisexual parents.
"There is a unique form of bias against people who have both same-sex and different-sex attractions and sexual relationships, and this may be why we see poorer mental health outcomes for bisexual parents," said co-author Esther D. Rothblum, Visiting Distinguished Scholar at the Williams Institute.
This is the first study to use a U.S. population-based sample to compare the mental health of sexual minority women with children to those without children. In the study, researchers also examined LBQ women in three age groups: young (18-25), middle (34-41), and older (52-59).
Researchers found that among lesbian women, the oldest non-parents reported more happiness and less psychological distress than the youngest non-parents. The youngest group of bisexual women reported more community connectedness than bisexual women of other age groups. There was no difference in happiness and psychological distress among parents of different age groups.
"It was important to take different age cohorts into account, because attitudes, policies, and laws concerning sexual minority people and parenting have evolved over time," said lead author Mark Assink, Ph.D., Researcher at the Research Institute of Child Development and Education at the University of Amsterdam. "More research that examines the impact of parenting on emerging identities is needed, as more LBQ women opt for parenthood."
ABOUT THE STUDY
The report, "Mental Health of Lesbian, Bisexual, and Other-identified Parents and Non-Parents from a Population-Based Study" appears in the Journal of Homosexuality and is co-authored by Mark Assink, Ph.D., Esther D. Rothblum, Ph.D., Bianca D. M. Wilson, Ph.D., Nanette Gartrell, M.D., and Henny M. W. Bos, Ph.D.
Research reported in this report is part of the Generations study, supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) of the National Institutes of Health, under award number R01HD078526. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. The Generations investigators are Ilan H. Meyer, Ph.D., (PI, UCLA); David M. Frost, Ph.D., (University College London); Phillip L. Hammack, Ph.D., (UCSC); Marguerita Lightfoot, Ph.D., (UCSF); Stephen T. Russell, Ph.D. (University of Texas, Austin) and Bianca D.M. Wilson, Ph.D., (UCLA) Co-Investigators are listed alphabetically.
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.