Sexual minority women's attitudes toward infants, children, and parenthood.J Lesbian Stud. 2019; 23(4):464-475.JL
Little is known about the experiences of lesbian and bisexual women with infants or children or about their views on trade-offs required by parenthood. In this study, we examined how reactions to experiences with infants/children, perceived trade-offs of parenthood, and self-reported nurturance vary as a function of women's sexual orientation. Two hundred cisgender childless women (53 lesbian, 57 plurisexual, 90 heterosexual) from the United States, recruited via social media, participated in this study. Results showed that lesbian women reported more negative attitudes toward infants/children and parenthood than did heterosexual women. Self-reported nurturance did not differ as a function of sexual orientation. Overall, lesbian women reported that they had less favorable experiences with infants and/or children and that they anticipated more social and economic costs involved with parenthood than did heterosexual women. Lesbian women also reported lower aspirations for parenthood than heterosexual women, and this was largely accounted for by differences in perceptions of the trade-offs involved with parenthood. Plurisexual women did not differ from lesbian or heterosexual women on any outcome. These results contribute to our understanding of why lesbian women are, on average, less likely than heterosexual women to aspire to parenthood.