Teenagers from lesbian families in the United States reported 0% sexual abuse by their parents or guardians. Furthermore, it also appears that – compared to peers with heterosexual parents – the teenage daughters of lesbian mothers are more likely to have sexual contact with someone of the same sex. Of the teens with a lesbian mother questioned in the study, 2.8% indicated that they considered themselves to be ‘predominantly to exclusively’ homosexual. These are the findings of a study investigating abuse, sexual orientation and sexual behavior among children of lesbian mothers in the U.S. that day was published on 9 November 2010 in the scientific journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. The study was conducted by Dr Nanette Gartrell and Naomi Goldberg of the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, and Dr. Henny Bos from the University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) department of Child Development and Education.

The study is part of the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS), the longest-running study of lesbian families in the United States. The families have been followed since the time the children were conceived (all by donor insemination). The children are now, on average, seventeen years old. The researchers presented the 78 teenagers (39 girls and 39 boys) with a questionnaire about abuse. They were asked whether they had ever been abused by a parent or guardian, and – if applicable – to state who had committed the abuse and what kind of abuse it was (verbal, emotional, physical or sexual). The teens reported no physical or sexual abuse by a parent or guardian. Earlier research by Dr David Finklehon (University of New Hampshire), based on a representative sample of all adolescents in the U.S., reported 26% of teenagers suffered physical abuse by a parent / guardian, and 8.3% reported sexual abuse.
Sexual orientation and sexual behavior
The researchers also asked the teens in lesbian families to describe their sexual identity. This was done using the Kinsey scale – a scale from 0 to 6, where 6 stands for exclusively homosexual. 18.9% of the girls questioned considered themselves to be bisexual, whereas 2.7% of the boys considered themselves bisexual. 0% of the girls and 5.4% of the boys considered themselves predominantly to exclusively homosexual.

The sexual behavior of adolescents was assessed with questions about heterosexual and homosexual contact, the age that first sexual contact occurred, the use of contraception, and pregnancy. Compared with the control group – consisting of peers with heterosexual parents – the children of lesbian parents were significantly older when they first had heterosexual contact. The daughters of lesbian mothers had significantly more homosexual contact compared with the daughters of heterosexual parents.
The Dutch situation

Henny Bos is conducting a study in the Netherlands among lesbian families modelled on the NLLFS. Next month, she will begin research into sexual abuse, sexual orientation and sexual behavior among teenage children of lesbian mothers in the Netherlands.
Publication details

Nanette K. Gartrell, Henny M.W. Bos and Naomi G. Goldberg: ‘Adolescents of the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Sexual Orientation, Sexual Behavior, and Sexual Risk Exposure’, in: Archives of Sexual Behavior,9 November 2010.