Adolescents of the USA National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Can Family Characteristics Counteract the Negative Effects of Stigmatization?

By Nanette K. Gartrell, Henny M. W. Bos
December 2010

This investigation examines the impact of homophobic stigmatization on the wellbeing of 17-year-old adolescents who were conceived through donor insemination and whose mothers enrolled before they were born in the largest, longest-running, prospective study of lesbian families, with a 93% retention rate to date. The data for the current report were collected through questionnaires completed by the adolescents and their mothers. The adolescents (39 girls and 39 boys) were queried about family connection and compatibility. They were also asked to indicate if they had experienced discrimination based on their mothers’ sexual orientation. Adolescent well-being was assessed through the parental report of the Child Behavior Checklist/6–18. Forty-one percent of the adolescents had experienced stigmatization based on homophobia. Hierarchical, multiple-regression analyses revealed that stigmatization was associated with more problem behavior in these adolescents, but that family compatibility neutralized this negative influence. The results indicate that adolescents who have close, positive relationships with their lesbian mothers demonstrate resilience in response to stigmatization.

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