The Williams Institute, a research center on sexual orientation law and public policy at UCLA School of Law, announces new findings from the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS), the longest-running study ever conducted on American lesbian families (now in its 25th year). In an article published in the Journal of Health Psychology, 17-year-old daughters and sons of lesbian mothers in the study who reported experiences of homophobic stigmatization did not report higher levels of substance use.
The study is the first to date to explore the association between homophobia and substance use in adolescents raised by lesbians. The 17-year-old offspring of lesbian parents from the largest, longest-running, longitudinal study of same-sex parented families were surveyed about substance use, experiences of homophobic stigmatization, and overall life satisfaction. Their responses were compared to a demographically matched group of adolescents from the national Monitoring the Future Survey conducted by the University of Michigan with funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Compared to these adolescents, the 78 adolescents with same-sex parents were more likely to report occasional substance use but not more likely to report heavy use.
“Most surprising was that we found no association between substance use and homophobic stigmatization or life satisfaction. This finding runs contrary to other studies that find experiences of discrimination and homophobia may be linked to increased substance use. It is possible that these families have helped their adolescents develop coping skills to remain resilient in the face of discrimination,” says study co-author Naomi Goldberg, MPP.
The study was conducted by Naomi Goldberg, MPP (Williams Institute), Henny Bos, PhD (University of Amsterdam), and Nanette Gartrell, MD. Principal investigator Nanette Gartrell, MD, is a 2011 Williams Distinguished Visiting Scholar, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at UCSF, and affiliated with the University of Amsterdam.