Half of teens who grew up in lesbian-headed families have been ridiculed but are coping well, according to a new study.
In the study, “Stigmatization associated with growing up in a lesbian-parented family: What do adolescents experience and how do they deal with it?,” teens were asked whether they had been treated unfairly because of having a lesbian mom. Fifty percent of 17-year-olds said they experience stigmatization, according to the study, which was published in the Children and Youth Services Review and was conducted by experts from the Research Institute of Child Development and Education, University of Amsterdam and the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law.
A key part of the study revealed that the overall rates of teasing experience in lesbian-mother families do not differ from those reported in heterosexual families. The results further revealed that teens’ peers were most often the source of negative comments, teasing or ridicule. According to the study, 30 percent of reported incidents occurred in elementary school and 39 percent in high school.
“The findings suggest that educational systems could play an important role in preventing stigma incidents by discouraging homophobia in their anti-bullying programs,” said lead author Loes van Gelderen, of the University of Amsterdam.
Nearly two-thirds of the teens in the study handled the ridicule well, and either sought support among their friends and family or confronted the perpetrator. Other teens, however, did not have such coping skills and said they learned to use terms like “parents” instead of “moms” when referring to their family.
The 78 adolescents queried for the study were drawn from families that are participating in the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study, the longest-running and largest prospective investigation of lesbian mothers and their children in the United States.