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J Homosex. 2005;49(1):77-95.

Children of the closet: a measurement of the anxiety and self-esteem of children raised by a non-disclosed homosexual or bisexual parent.

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Department of Psychology, Southern Oregon University, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd, Ashland, OR 97520, USA.


This research examined whether a parent's non-disclosure of his or her homosexual or bisexual orientation within the family unit negatively affects self-esteem and anxiety in children, as measured in adulthood. Thirty-six subjects indicated that they had not known of their parent's sexual orientation until an average age of sixteen for the children of lesbian or bisexual mothers, and twenty-two for the children of gay or bisexual fathers. This group's scores on the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, the Marlowe Crowne Social Desirabilty Scale and the State-Trait Anxiety Scale were compared to scores obtained by sixty-three participants who did not have a homosexual/bisexual parent. The number of years a secretive environment surrounded the child was measured, as were participants' attitudes about the secret sexual identity. Although the study did not find that adults previously raised with a closeted parent had significantly higher levels of anxiety or lower levels of self-esteem, results indicated that those who had been raised as children with non-disclosed lesbian mothers showed a significantly higher level of self-esteem than participants with heterosexual parents. Implications of the findings for the targeted population are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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