Parenting intentions and desires among childless lesbian, gay, and heterosexual individuals.J Fam Psychol. 2010 Feb; 24(1):78-81.JF
Parenthood is one of the most universal and highly valued experiences of American adults. However, lesbian and gay adults in the United States are much less likely than heterosexual adults to be parents. Our goal was to explore the reasons why this is the case. Using nationally representative data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), we studied parenting intentions, desires, and attitudes of childless lesbian, gay, and heterosexual individuals 15 to 44 years of age. We found that gay men and lesbian women were less likely than matched heterosexual peers to express desire for parenthood. Moreover, gay men who expressed desire to become parents were less likely than heterosexual men to express the intention to become parents; this was not true for women. Despite being less likely to express parenting desires, gay and lesbian participants endorsed the value of parenthood just as strongly as did heterosexual participants. By exploring the psychology of family formation as a function of sexual orientation, these results inform ongoing debates about sexual orientation and parenthood.