Adolescents of the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Male role models, gender role traits, and psychological adjustment

By Henny Bos, Naomi Goldberg, Loes Van Gelderen, Nanette Gartrell
June 2012

The absence of male role models did not adversely affect the psychological adjustment of 17-year-old teens raised in lesbian-headed households, based on teens who participated in the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS). The study is part of a growing body of research that evinces the positive psychological well-being of children reared in planned lesbian families. Approximately half of the teens had male role models. The NLLFS teens with and without male role models did not differ from each other in psychological well-being, and also did not differ on stereotypical feminine (e.g., understanding) and masculine (e.g., competitive) traits. No differences were found in the well-being of those with and without male role models, or between girls and boys. There was no empirical evidence suggesting that boys require a same-sex parent, or male role model, to develop a healthy psychological well-being.

In its twenty-sixth year, the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study is the longest-running and largest prospective investigation of lesbian mothers and their children in the United States. The study has a 93 percent retention rate, and participating families are predominately middle-class. Prior research based on this study has found no difference in psychological well-being between children in planned lesbian families and those in heterosexual two-parent families.

The new study, “Adolescents of the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Male role models, gender role traits, and psychological adjustment” is published in Gender & Society.

Click here for the full study.

Click here for the press release.