Attitudes And Sexual Orientation May Influence Gender Stereotyping
In Childrens Environments
30, 2001-- On one block, heterosexual parents are
raising Dick and Jane. On another block, lesbian parents are raising
Johnny and Suzie. Do parents sexual orientation and attitudes
affect sex-role stereotyping in their childrens environments?
the American Psychological Association meeting this week in San
Francisco, a University of Virginia researcher will present
results of a novel investigation into this question. A research
team photographed bedrooms of young children of heterosexual and
lesbian couples and rated the rooms décor and furnishings
for sex-role stereotyping. They also asked the parents to assess
their own gender-related attitudes.
results showed that most childrens bedrooms are stereotyped
along traditional gender lines. Although all personal items, such
as pictures and clothing, were removed digitally from the photographs,
the furnishings and décor obviously illustrated those bedrooms
belonging to boys and those to girls.
researchers found that girls bedrooms from heterosexual-parented
families were rated as more feminine than girls bedrooms from
lesbian-parented families. However, no differences were found in
the ratings of masculinity in the girls bedrooms. Boys
bedrooms had similar ratings of masculinity and femininity across
study also showed that children with lesbian mothers had bedrooms
that appeared somewhat less stereotyped than children with heterosexual
parents. Lesbian mothers were also found to hold significantly more
liberal attitudes about childrens gender-related behavior
than heterosexual parents.
with more liberal attitudes had children whose bedrooms were less
stereotyped along gender lines," said Erin Sutfin, one of three
U.Va. researchers who conducted the study.
research team consisted of Charlotte J. Patterson, a psychology
professor known for her studies on children being raised by gay
and lesbian parents, and Megan Fulcher and Sutfin, graduate students
in U.Va.s psychology department.
study participants were 53 four- to six-year-old children and their
106 parents. The sample was drawn from the Atlantic Coast Families
Study of two-parent heterosexual and lesbian couples raising children
who either were born to or adopted into their current families.
Both the heterosexual and lesbian couples were well educated and
reported comfortable incomes.
conduct the study, two trained researchers visited each familys
home. One asked parents to complete questionnaires and to answer
interview questions. The other photographed childrens bedrooms
from several angles. All identifying information, such as the childrens
names or family photos, were removed from the pictures using computer
software. Slides were made of each bedroom and shown to raters who
were asked to identify the gender of the child living in the room.
analysis of the parents interviews and questionnaires and
the raters evaluations of the bedrooms, the researchers found
that parents attitudes are related to the extent of stereotyping
in childrens bedrooms. Parents with more liberal attitudes
had children with bedrooms that appeared less stereotyped.
results indicate that parents attitudes account for the association
between sexual orientation and gender stereotyping in the childrens
bedrooms," Sutfin said.
Ida Lee Wootten, (434) 924-6857