Adolescents with Lesbian Mothers Describe Their Own Lives

By Nanette Gartrell, Henny Bos H, Heidi Peyser, Amalia Deck, MSN, Carla Rodas
November 2012

Teens with lesbian mothers are academically successful and happy with their lives. The 17-year-olds participating in the longest-running study of lesbian families had high school GPAs in the A- to B+ range, and nearly all planned to attend four-year colleges. These adolescents had strong family bonds, and they were nearly unanimous in describing their mothers as good role models. They also reported having numerous close friends—generally with same-age peers who were predominantly heterosexual. Most of the teens felt comfortable bringing friends home, informing friends about their mothers’ lesbianism and confiding in their mothers.

The teenagers were asked a series of questions about their everyday life experiences including academics, extracurricular activities, aspirations, friendships, family interactions, role models, health problems and wellbeing.   Notably, almost all of the 78 adolescents described their mothers as good role models. Prior studies on the same group of teenagers found that they demonstrated more competencies and fewer behavioral problems than an age-matched normative sample of American youth; although some adolescents with lesbian mothers had experienced homophobic stigmatization, family closeness helped counteract its negative effects.

The 78 adolescents in the current report were drawn from families that are participating in the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS), the longest-running and largest prospective investigation of lesbian mothers and their children in the United States. Initiated by Dr. Gartrell in 1986, the NLLFS examines the social, psychological and emotional development of the children as well as the dynamics of planned lesbian families.

The current study  appears in the current issue of the Journal of Homosexuality.

Click here for the full report.

Click here for the press release.

For more information about the NLLFS, visit

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