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Int J Psychol. 2013;48(3):244-53. doi: 10.1080/00207594.2011.645484. Epub 2012 Apr 24.

Anticipation of the sexual and gender development of children adopted by same-sex couples.

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  • 1Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal.


The present study aimed to characterize beliefs surrounding the sexual and gender development of children adopted by lesbian and gay couples. Participants were 768 Portuguese university students. Using a quasiexperimental design, participants were presented with identical descriptions of a couple interested in adopting a child, manipulating couple sexual orientation and child gender. Participants were then asked to anticipate three aspects of the sexual and gender development of the adopted child: sexual orientation, gender role behavior, and gender identity. MANOVAs and follow-up ANOVAs were conducted in order to analyze the data. Results indicated that participants, particularly males, considered children adopted by either lesbian or gay couples to have a lower probability of developing a normative sexual and gender identity than children adopted by heterosexual couples. Both men and women considered that children would emulate the sexual orientation of their same-sex parents, and that a boy's gender role behavior was more at risk if he was adopted by a lesbian couple. Moreover, men were apprehensive about the gender role behavior of a boy adopted by a gay male couple. Overall, these results indicate persistence of biased evaluations of the sexual and gender development of children adopted by lesbian and gay parents. Furthermore, both gender of the participant and gender of the child play an important role in these evaluations. Results are discussed and interpreted as a way of "doing gender" in the context of hegemonic masculinity.

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