Gender-Typed Play Behavior in Early Childhood: Adopted Children with Lesbian, Gay, and Heterosexual Parents

By Abbie E. Goldberg, Deborah A. Kashy, JuliAnna Z. Smith
October 2012

A study of young children of first-time adoptive parents found that the children of same-gender parents were less gender stereotyped in their play behavior than the children of heterosexual parents, which may translate to strengths that aid them later in life. How parents play, and what kinds of toys they let their kids play with, can affect child development. Past research has shown that strict adherence to traditionally gender-stereotyped toys may constrain some necessary skill building, and the some flexibility in play-type has psychological benefits for children.  In the study, the children of same-gender parents were found to engage in more flexible play behavior, thus facilitating their ability to engage in a wide range of behaviors and activities.

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*Research funded, in part, by the Williams Institute.