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J Fam Psychol. 2009 Apr;23(2):255-62. doi: 10.1037/a0014973.

Legal and social contexts and mental health among lesbian and heterosexual mothers.

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Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.


This study examines the role of legal and social context (the level of legal and social support offered by one's country of residence) and sexual orientation in the mental health of lesbian and heterosexual mothers. Participants were sampled from the United States and Canada because the two countries have many similarities (North American location, reliance on English language, and democratic structures) but provide different legal and social rights to their lesbian citizens. The study included 52 lesbian mothers and 153 heterosexual mothers in the United States and 35 lesbian mothers and 42 heterosexual mothers in Canada. Although there were no differences between heterosexual mothers as a function of legal and social context, lesbian mothers from the United States reported more family worries about legal status and discrimination (but not more general family worries) and more depressive symptoms than did lesbian mothers in Canada. Results indicate that legal and social context moderates the role of sexual orientation in maternal mental health.

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