Child/Developmental

Anhalt, K., & Morris, T. L. (1999). Developmental and adjustment issues of gay, lesbian and bisexual adolescents: A review of the empirical literature. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 1, 215-230.
Various studies have reported adjustment problems experienced by gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) adolescents. A primary purpose of this paper is to critically review this literature. Difficulties that have been studied include past suicide attempts, substance use and abuse, conduct problems, and academic concerns. For example, a considerable number of GLB youth report a history of suicide attempts, with prevalence rates ranging from 11 to 42%. However, among other methodological concerns, studies in this area have not used a comparison sample of heterosexual youths. Characteristics of development particular to GLB adolescents are described, the empirical research on adjustment issues is reviewed, and potential risk and protective factors for GLB youths are discussed.

Bailey, J.M., Nothnagel, J., & Wolfe, M. (1995). Retrospectively measured individual differences in childhood sex-typed behavior among gay men: correspondence between self- and maternal reports. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 24, 613-22
Male sexual orientation is strongly associated with childhood sex-typed behavior, but there are also marked within-orientation differences. Gay men show increased variance compared to heterosexual men on retrospective measures of childhood sex-typed behavior. Individual differences among gay men for their degree of sex-typed behavior may have important implications. However, there has been little attention given to the reliability or validity of retrospective measures of such differences that are most common. Gay men and their mothers completed questionnaires assessing the men's sex-typicality during childhood. Results of structural modeling analyses found that mothers' and sons' reports were significantly associated, both regarding the general level of sex-typed behavior and the specific behaviors, supporting the validity of retrospectively measured individual differences for those characteristics.

D'Augelli, A. R. (2002). Mental health problems among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth ages 14 to 21. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 7, 433-456.
The mental health problems of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths were studied using a sample of 542 youths from community settings. Information about the development of sexual orientation, problems related to sexual orientation, parents' reactions, and victimization based on sexual orientation was related to mental health symptoms and suicidality. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths were found to demonstrate more symptoms than a comparison group of adolescents. Over one-third of the sample reported a past suicide attempt. More symptoms were related to parents not knowing about youths' sexual orientation or with both parents having negative reactions to youths' sexual orientation. More than three-quarters had been verbally abused because of their sexual orientation, and 15 percent reported physical attacks. More than one-third said they had lost friends because of their sexual orientation. Youths who had experienced more victimization and who had lost friends reported more mental health symptoms. Mental health professionals are urged to attend to the distinct problems of these youths, especially dealing with conflicts with families and peers.

Diamond, L. M. (2000a). Passionate friendships among adolescent sexual-minority women. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 10, 191-209.
Adolescent friendships containing the emotional intensity of romantic relationships, yet lacking sexual activity, have been documented in numerous cultures and historical periods. This research explores these relationships among contemporary young sexual-minority women. Phone interviews with 80 lesbian, bisexual, and unlabeled women between 18 and 25 years of age assessed characteristics of their closest adolescent friendships. Cluster analysis differentiated conventional from passionate friendships, the latter containing more characteristics of romantic relationships. Same-sex friendships were not more likely than cross-sex friendships to be classified as passionate, and passionate friendships were not disproportionately likely to involve sexual attraction. Same-sex passionate friendships were initiated at earlier ages than same-sex conventional friendships, and those that developed prior to a young woman's first same-sex sexual contact were less likely to involve sexual attraction. Future research should investigate the incidence and developmental implications of such relationships among all adolescents.

Diamond, L. M. (2003a). Was it a phase? Young women's relinquishment of lesbian/bisexual identities over a 5-year period. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 352-364.
There have been many anecdotal accounts of individuals who self-identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual only to relinquish these identities later. The current study examines this phenomenon among a sample of young nonheterosexual women who underwent 3 interviews over a 5-year period. Over a quarter of the women relinquished their lesbian/bisexual identities during this period: half reclaimed heterosexual identities and half gave up all identity labels. These women did not differ from those who maintained lesbian/bisexual identities regarding the age at which they underwent sexual identity milestones, the factors that precipitated their sexual questioning, or their recollection of childhood "indicators" same-sex sexuality. Women who relinquished their identities for heterosexual identities had small ratios of same-sex to other-sex attractions across the 5-year assessment period, but their attractions did not significantly change. Only 1 woman described her previous same-sex identification as a phase; the rest emphasized changes in how they interpreted or acted on their attractions.

Diamond, L. M. (2003b). What does sexual orientation orient? A biobehavioral model distinguishing romantic love and sexual desire. Psychological Review, 110, 173-192.
Although it is typically presumed that heterosexual individuals only fall in love with other-gender partners and gay-lesbian individuals only fall in love with same-gender partners, this is not always so. The author develops a biobehavioral model of love and desire to explain why. The model specifies that (a) the evolved processes underlying sexual desire and affectional bonding are functionally independent; (b) the processes underlying affectional bonding are not intrinsically oriented toward other-gender or same-gender partners; (c) the biobehavioral links between love and desire are bidirectional, particularly among women. These claims are supported by social-psychological, historical, and cross-cultural research on human love and sexuality as well as by evidence regarding the evolved biobehavioral mechanisms underlying mammalian mating and social bonding.

Elizur, Y., & Ziv, M. (2001). Family support and acceptance, gay male identity, and psychological adjustment: A path model. Family Process, 40, 125-144.
While heterosexist family undermining has been demonstrated to be a developmental risk factor in the life of persons with same-gender orientation, the issue of protective family factors is both controversial and relatively neglected. In this study of 114 Israeli gay males (16-55 yr olds), we focused on the interrelations of family support, family acceptance, and family knowledge of gay orientation, and gay male identity formation, and their effects on mental health and self-esteem. A path model was proposed based on the hypothesis that family support, family acceptance, family knowledge, and gay identity formation have an impact on psychological adjustment, and that family support has an effect on gay identity formation that is mediated by family acceptance. The testing of our conceptual path model demonstrated an excellent fit with the data. An alternative model that hypothesized effects of gay male identity on family acceptance and family knowledge did not fit the data. Interpreting these results, we propose that the main effect of family support/acceptance on gay identity is related to the process of disclosure, and that both general family support and family acceptance of same-gender orientation play a significant role in the psychological adjustment of gay men.

Flaks, D., Ficher, I., Masterpasqua, F., & Joseph, G. (1995). Lesbians choosing motherhood: A comparative study of lesbian and heterosexual parents and their children. Developmental Psychology, 31, 104-114.
Compared 15 lesbian couples and the 3- to 9-yr-old children born to them through donor insemination with 15 matched, heterosexual-parent families. A variety of assessment measures were used to evaluate the children's cognitive functioning and behavioral adjustment as well as the parents' relationship quality and parenting skills. Results revealed no significant differences between the 2 groups of children, who also compared favorably with the standardization samples for the instruments used. In addition, no significant differences were found between dyadic adjustment of lesbian and heterosexual couples. Only in the area of parenting did the 2 groups of couples differ; lesbian couples exhibited more parenting awareness skills than did heterosexual couples. The implications of these findings are discussed.

Patterson, C.J. (1992). Children of lesbian and gay parents. Child Development, 63,1025–1042.
Reviews research on the personal and social development of children of gay or lesbian parents (CGLP). Beginning with estimates of the numbers of such children, sociocultural, theoretical, and legal reasons for attention to their development are then outlined. In this context, studies on sexual identity, personal development, and social relationships among these children are reviewed. Evidence does not show that the development of CGLP is compromised significantly relative to that among children of heterosexual parents in comparable situations.

Patterson, C. J. (1995). Families of the baby boom: Parents' division of labor and children's adjustment. Developmental Psychology, 31(1), 115-123.
Assessed lesbian couples' division of labor, their satisfaction with division of labor and with their relationships, and their children's psychosocial adjustment. The 26 participating families were headed by lesbian couples, each of whom had at least 1 child between 4 and 9 yrs of age. Parents' relationship satisfaction was generally high but was unrelated to measures of parental division of labor or of children's adjustment. Although both parents reported sharing household tasks and decision making equally, biological mothers reported greater involvement in child care, and nonbiological mothers reported spending longer hours in paid employment. Parents were more satisfied and children were more well-adjusted when labor involved in child care was more evenly distributed between the parents.

Radkowsky, M, & Siegel, L. (1997). The gay adolescent: Stressors, adaptations, and psychosocial interventions. Clinical Psychology Review, 17, 191-216.
Examines literature and research studies on the effects of social stigmatization which may hinder gay adolescents' ability to achieve a sense of identity and self-esteem, and peer and familial relationships. Due to these factors, gay adolescents are susceptible to loneliness, isolation, depression, AIDS, and suicide. The authors suggest intervention strategies for clinicians working with gay youth including examining one's own biases about homosexuality, validation of affectional and erotic feelings to normalize their adolescence, providing education, and providing clients and their families with peer groups of other gay youth and parents of gay youth.

Remafedi, G., Resnick, M., Blum, R., & Harris, L., (1992). Demography of sexual orientation in adolescents. Pediatrics, 89, 714-721.
This study was undertaken to explore patterns of sexual orientation in a representative sample of Minnesota junior and senior high school students. The sample included 34,706 students (grades 7 through 12) from diverse ethnic, geographic, and socioeconomic strata. Five items pertaining to sexual attraction, fantasy, behavior, and affiliation were embedded in a self-administered survey of adolescent health. Overall, 10.7% of students were "unsure" of their sexual orientation; 88.2% described themselves as predominantly heterosexual; and 1.1% described themselves as bisexual or predominantly homosexual. The reported prevalence of homosexual attractions (4.5%) exceeded homosexual fantasies (2.6%), sexual behavior (1%), or affiliation (0.4%). Gender differences were minor; but responses to individual sexual orientation items varied with age, religiosity, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Uncertainty about sexual orientation diminished in successively older age groups, with corresponding increases in heterosexual and homosexual affiliation. The findings suggest an unfolding of sexual identity during adolescence, influenced by sexual experience and demographic factors.

Rosario, M., Schrimshaw, E. W., Hunter, J., & Braun, L. (2006). Sexual identity development among gay, lesbian, and bisexual youths: Consistency and change over time. The Journal of Sex Research, 43, 46-58.
A longitudinal report of 156 lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths examined changes in sexual identity over time. Fifty-seven percent of the youths consistently self-identified as gay/lesbian, 18% transitioned from bisexual to gay/lesbian, and 15% consistently identified as bisexual over time. Although youths who consistently identified as gay/lesbian did not differ from other youths on time since experiencing sexual developmental milestones, they reported current sexual orientation and sexual behaviors that were more same-sex centered and they scored higher on aspects of the identity integration process (e.g., more certain, comfortable, and accepting of their same-sex sexuality, more involved in gay-related social activities, more possessing of positive attitudes toward homosexuality, and more comfortable with others knowing about their sexuality) than youths who transitioned to a gay/lesbian identity and youths who consistently identified as bisexual. Contrary to the hypothesis that females are more sexually fluid than males, we found that female youths were less likely to change identities than males. The finding that youths who transitioned to a gay/lesbian identity differed from consistently gay/lesbian youths suggests that sexual identity development continues after the adoption of a gay/lesbian sexual identity.

Rosario, M., Schrimshaw, E. W., Hunter, J., & Gwadz, M. (2002). Gay-related stress and emotional distress among gay, lesbian, and bisexual youths: A longitudinal examination. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70, 967-975.
The longitudinal relations between gay-related stress (i.e., gay-related stressful events, negative attitudes toward homosexuality, and discomfort with homosexuality) and emotional distress (i.e., anxious symptoms, depressive symptoms, and conduct problems) were examined at 3 assessment periods (baseline, 6 months, and 12 months) among 140 gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) youths. Although some findings were consistent with the hypothesis that stress would be associated with subsequent distress among GLB youths, the larger number of nonsignificant relations and the presence of relations between distress and subsequent gay-related stress indicate that the hypothesis was unsupported. The authors discuss the potential reasons for the lack of hypothesized relations and offer suggestions for future research.

Rotheram-Borus, M. J., Rosario, M., Van Rossem, R., & Reid, H. (1995). Prevalence, course, and predictors of multiple problem behaviors among gay and bisexual male adolescents. Developmental Psychology, 31, 75-85.
Multiple problem behaviors, stress, and personal resources were assessed over 2 yrs among 136 mainly Black and Hispanic gay and bisexual male adolescents (aged 14-19 yrs). Whereas sexual risk acts, substance abuse, conduct problems, and emotional distress were common, the risk acts did not form a multiple problem behavior cluster, compared with previous findings with heterosexual youths. Problem behaviors were stable over time: Only 20-30% of the youths changed their pattern of problem behaviors over 2 yrs. For each individual, the pattern of change in one behavior problem was not related to patterns of change in other problem behaviors over 2 yrs. At baseline, personal resources were associated with less alcohol use and emotional distress, and stress was associated with delinquent behaviors. The pattern of results was similar whether youths labeled themselves as gay or bisexual, suggesting that problem behaviors among mainly Black and Hispanic gay and bisexual youths may follow different developmental pathways than among heterosexual youth.

Savin-Williams, R. C. (2001). Suicide attempts among sexual minority youth; Population and measurement issues. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 69, 983-991.
Two questions were addressed regarding suicide attempts among sexual-minority youths: Who should be classified as a sexual minority, and what constitutes a suicide attempt? Results from 2 studies indicated that sexual-minority youths, broadly defined in terms of sexual orientation and recruitment venue, were slightly more likely than heterosexual youths to report a suicide attempt. To afford a more accurate assessment of suicide attempts, a detailed measure distinguished true from false attempts. This method eliminated over half of suicide attempt reports among sexual minorities because they were false attempts--ideation rather than a concrete act to end life. Furthermore, many true attempts were not life threatening, suggesting that the reports were attempts to communicate the hardships of lives or to identify with a gay community.

Stacey, J. & Biblarz, T. J. (2001). (How) Does sexual orientation of parents matter? American Sociological Review, 65, 159-183.
Opponents of lesbian and gay parental rights claim that children with lesbigay parents are at higher risk for a variety of negative outcomes. Yet most research in psychology concludes that there are no differences in developmental outcomes between children raised by lesbigay parents and those raised by heterosexual parents. This analysis challenges this defensive conceptual framework and analyzes how heterosexism has hampered intellectual progress in the field. The authors discuss limitations in the definitions, samples, and analyses of the studies to date. Next they explore findings from 21 studies and demonstrate that researchers frequently downplay findings indicating difference regarding children's gender and sexual preferences and behavior that could stimulate important theoretical questions. A less defensive, more sociologically informed analytic framework is proposed for investigating these issues. The framework focuses on (1) whether selection effects produced by homophobia account for associations between parental sexual orientations and child outcomes; (2) the role of parental gender vis-a-vis sexual orientation in influencing children's gender development; and (3) the relationship between parental sexual orientations and children's sexual preferences and behaviors.

 

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AFFIRM Network, c/o Marvin Goldfried | Psychology Department, SUNY at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY 11794-2500 | marvin.goldfried @stonybrook.edu