Sexual Orientation and Future Parenthood in a 2011–2013 Nationally Representative United States Sample

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Abstract

Previous researchers have found evidence for differences in parenting goals between lesbian and gay people and their heterosexual peers. However, no previous research has quantified the parenting goals of bisexual people or evaluated parenting goals as a function of sexual partner gender. In addition, political and social climates for sexual minority people had improved rapidly since the last representative data on lesbian and gay peoples’ plans for parenthood were collected. We analyzed data from 3,941 childless lesbian, gay, bisexual, and heterosexual participants from the 2011–2013 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG; United States Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, 2014), a nationally representative sample of United States residents aged 15 to 44 years. We found that statistically significant, within-gender sexual orientation differences in parenting plans persist, despite social and legal changes. Consistent with hypotheses, bisexual men’s parenting desires and intentions were similar to those of their heterosexual male peers and different from those of their gay male peers, while bisexual women’s reports were more mixed. Also consistent with hypotheses, the gender of the most recent sexual partner was a strong predictor of parenting goals. We discuss implications for mental and reproductive health-care providers, attorneys, social workers, and others who interact with sexual minority adults.

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