The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

3359.0: Monday, November 17, 2003 - Board 3

Abstract #64064

Lesbian-led families: Understanding the family experience

Nicole McKirahan, MPH, School of Public Health/ Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research, University of Texas-Houston, 7000 Fannin, 26th Floor, Houston, TX 77030, 713 500 9982, nkmckirahan@sph.uth.tmc.edu and Sheryl McCurdy, PhD, University of Texas School of Public Health, 1200 Herman Pressler, Houston, TX 77030.

Background: A growing number of children have parents who are lesbian women. Despite this, there remains a paucity of research that examines the family experience of lesbian parents and their children. There is a need to assess the family experience of lesbian-led families and how this impacts parent-child and child-non-family relations.

Objectives: Describe the formation, structure, and roles of members in a lesbian-led family. Determine the composition of childrenís social network. Describe parentís choice to disclose sexual orientation to childrenís social network.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews with a sample of 7 self-identified lesbian parents (3 couples and 1 single) were conducted. Qualitative analysis identified family formation and processes, as well as the childrenís outside social interactions. A questionnaire assessed basic demographic characteristics.

Results: 2 families had children from heterosexual relationships and the other 2 families had children through artificial insemination. Family formation plays a major role in the lesbian-led family experience, especially with respect to parenting styles and household roles. Couples who are more open about their sexual orientation and family structure have better parent-child relations, and their children have better social relations than couples who are not as open. Other themes identified: building a family, importance of community support, and religion.

Conclusions: Overall, family formation and disclosure of sexual orientation plays a vital role in various aspects of the lesbian-led family experience, especially how these factors impact childrenís social networks and parent-child relations. This study expands the limited research available on the lesbian-led family experience.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Lesbian, Family Involvement

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Topics in LGBT Health - II

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA