To find differences among various type of families’ gender stereotype implication to their children, the correlational research design will be used. Findings will be represented on a Turkey study composing of 20 gay, 20 lesbian, and 20 heterosexual parents with a child aged 5-9 years. Interviews and questionnaires will measure gender stereotype behaviour on children in three different categories: girl, boy, and cross-gender typicality. Individuals will be answering questions indicating gender stereotype child behaviour. Furthermore, interviews will take place before the questionnaires. The results will be averaged with each family type.
How parental sexual orientation affects a child’s gender stereotype behaviour?
In Turkey, parents regardless of their sex or sexual orientation, are treating their children with intense gender stereotyped behaviour. With the help of this study, we’ll try to find if there’s any difference is caused by parents’ sexual orientation and the outcome of children differ. Gender stereotypes are behaviour expectations burdened by society to an individual which is determined by his/her/theirs gender. In social interactions, every-day life situations, manners etc. are affected by gender stereotypes (Farr, Brunn, Doss, & Patterson, 2018). This type of stereotype pushes children to act what society (in this case, parents) expect of him/her. For a basic instance, blue coloured stuff is pre-given to boys before even they imply that they want a specific colour. Therefore, as time passes boys start to want their stuff blue (Paoletti, 2012). In children, gender stereotype behaviour may be affected by culture, social pressure, education, style of living, religion and parents’ sexual orientation. Religion affects culture, culture affects social pressure and all can be exchanged in particular. Moreover, all combined, these topics affect all types of family structures but there may be an impact on parents’ sexual orientation in stereotyped behaviour (Gato & Fontaine, 2015). One can understand sexual orientation as a compass between affinity, attraction towards and imagination towards the one’s gender identity; behaviours and activities regarding sexuality (eg. Heterosexual, Homosexual, Bisexual) (Salomaa & Matsick, 2018). According to Bos and Sandfort (2010) in lesbian families, child’s gender identity expression is more undisturbed than heterosexual families because lesbian mothers tend to be more liberal to their children’ gender identity expression. In heterosexual families, mother and father have similar impacts on their children (Lamb, 2010). However, women are believed to be more evolutionary suitable parents rather than men (Biblarz & Stacey, 2010). Furthermore, because they are gay and male, gay fathers are faced prejudice and discrimination more than lesbian mothers and may be this situation have an effect on child’s gender development because they feel under pressure of the fright of accepting a negative prejudice and discrimination as a self-trait which disrupts personal performance (Golombok & Tasker, 2010). Male children in lesbian families may show less gender stereotype behaviour because of the absence of patriarchy (Golombok et al, 2013).
As can be seen in previous researches, there is no negative effect of homosexual parenting on child’s gender-typed behaviour, so it can be said that there is a no-difference consensus. There are no negative outcomes in literature about the children who grow up with a homosexual family even they have same experiences with the children who grow up with heterosexual family about family life and also grow up with a homosexual family doesn’t mean that their children are more likely to become a gay or a lesbian (Schumm, 2008). Our aim is to show differences between children’s gender stereotype behaviour intensity in gay, lesbian, and heterosexual families. Gay fathers are subjected to more societal pressure than lesbian mothers in terms of raising children because of the existing traditional gender-role concepts of society. They are treated more harshly and receive less tolerance for their behaviour. This situation may put gay fathers in a position that they need to prove their parenting skills by raising a culturally accepted “normal” child. Whereas, lesbian mothers may have fewer difficulties and somehow are freer while raising their kids without proving something to the society. Furthermore, heterosexual parents may show more gender stereotyped attitude to their children because of their concepts of heteronormative society. Homosexual couples tend to be more liberal to their child’s gender expression than heterosexual couples (Carniero, Tasker, Salinas-Quiroz, Leal & Costa, 2017). There has never been research on this area in Turkey yet there is no research possibility because of the legal issues. However, by looking just on researches that published in foreign countries, we can try to hypothesize from our findings. We hypothesize that gender stereotype behaviour of children in lesbian families will show the least intensity. However, children in gay families will show more gender stereotype behaviour than lesbian families. At last, children in heterosexual families will show the highest rates of gender stereotype behaviour.
Parents will be selected regarding their age, sexual orientation, level of education, socioeconomic status, and cities they live in. There will be 40 gay fathers, 40 lesbian mothers, 20 straight mothers, and 20 straight fathers. Moreover, their age will be in the 27-50 range. all will be in middle-class economic status and live in metropolitan cities. Families will be recruited in a number of 20 from each concerning sexual orientations (straight, lesbian, gay). Moreover, 60 children will be in the 5-9 age range. For each type of families, half of the children will be identified as male at birth and the other half will be identified as female at birth. We will reach our parents among volunteers of Kaos GL Association in the metropolitan cities. Hence, we will be using convenience sampling to reach the parents.
The questionnaire task will be adopted from Yu, Winter, and Xie (2010). The questions will be prepared by the tasks in concerning article. There will be 29 different types of items about girl stereotype behaviour, 25 different types of items about boy stereotype behaviour and 10 different types of items about cross-gender behaviour. There twelve separate types of internal consistency reliability in the research; nevertheless, we’ll be using three of these reliabilities. The Cronbach’s alphas for girl, boy, and cross-gender typicality scales are 0.93, 0.92 and 0.84 respectively. For each item, parents will rate the frequency of occurrence on a 7- point Likert scale (“Never”= 1, “Seldom”=2, “Rarely”=3, “Sometimes”=4, “Often”=5, “Usually”=6, “Always”=7).
Gender stereotype behaviour of girls can be generalised to acts that generally expected from girls like playing with dolls, giving fake tea-parties, playing house etc. (i.e. How often does your child play with dolls?). Furthermore, gender stereotype behaviour of boys can be generalised to acts generally expected from boys like playing football, playing with toy cars etc. (i.e. How often does your child play football?). Cross-gender behaviour can be generalised to imitating parent of his/her own gender (if any), prefer of companionship with his/her own gender etc. (i.e. How often does your child prefer companionship with his/her own gender?). The total score will be averaged with each family type. The questionnaire will be translated into Turkish and will be given to parents.
Prior to the questionnaire, a brief interview will be made with parents. The interview will include 10 questions generally about how parents feel about their child’s gender non-conforming behaviour (i.e. How do you feel if your child wants to wear clothes not socially attached as his/her gender). The interview questions will be prepared in Turkish by us. Interview will also be scored with Likert 5 point scale (“I take it very normal.”=5, “I take it normal.’=4, ‘I take it neither normal or abnormal.’=3, ‘I take it abnormal.’=2, ‘I take it very abnormal.’=1). The aim of the measurement is to observe how the results can be evaluated to see if there’s a connection between family types.
The ethical approval will be taken from Human Subjects Ethical Committée of Middle East Technical University. Families will be reached from Kaos GL Association by phone or e-mail. Interviews and questionnaires will be handed over and conducted after informed consent forms are signed. Interviews will be audio-recorded. Participants will be informed about the concept of the study and why the study is conducted. The procedures will be assessed at the interview offices of the university. All individuals of a family will be interviewed and take the questionnaire separately from their partner and also other families. The procedure will be anonymous and all participants’ information will be kept confidentially. All participation will be assured that it’s voluntarily.
- Biblarz, T., & Stacey, J. (2010). How does the gender of parents matter? Journal of Marriage and Family, 72, 3-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2009.00678.x
- Bos, H., & Sandfort, T. G. M. (2010). Children’s gender identity in lesbian and heterosexual two-parent families. Sex Roles, 62, 114-126. doi: 10.1007/s11199-009-9704-7
- Carniero, F. A., Tasker, F., Salinas-Quiroz, F., Leal, I., & Costa, P. A. (2017). Are the fathers alright? A systematic and critical review of studies on gay and bisexual fatherhood. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1636. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01636
- Farr, R. H., Brunn, S. T., Doss, K. M., & Patterson, C. J. (2018). Children’s gender-typed behaviour from early to middle childhood in adoptive families with lesbian, gay, and heterosexual parents. Sex Roles, 78, 528-541. doi: 10.1007/s11199-017-0812-5
- Gato, J., & Fontaine, A. M. (2015). Attitudes toward adoption by same-sex couples: Effects of gender of the participant, sexual orientation of the couple, and gender of the child. Journal of GLBT Family Studies, 12, 46-67. doi: 10.1080/1550428X.2015.1049771
- Golombok, S., Mellish, L., Jennings, S., Casey, P., Tasker, F., & Lamb, M. E. (2013). Adoptive gay father families: Parent-child relationships and children’s psychological adjusment. Child Development, 85, 456-468. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12155
- Golombok, S., & Tasker, F. (2010). Gay fathers. In M. Lamb (Ed.), The role of the father in child development (5th ed., pp. 319–340). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
- Lamb, M. E. (2010) How do fathers influence children’s development? Let me count the ways. In M. Lamb (Ed.), The role of the father in child development (5th ed., pp. 1–26). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
- Paoletti, J.B., (2012). Pink and blue: Telling the boys from girls in America. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
- Salomaa, A. C., & Matsick, J. L. (2018). Carving sexuality at its joints: Defining sexual orientation in research and clinical practice. Psychological Assessment. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/pas0000656
- Schumm, W. R. (2008). Re-evaluation of the “no differences” hypothesis concerning gay and lesbian parenting as assessed in eight early (1979-1986) and four later (1997-1998) dissertations. Psychological Reposts, 103, 275-304. doi: 10.2466/pr0.103.1.275-304
- Yu, L., Winter, S., & Xie, D. (2010). The child play behaviour and activity questionnaire: a parent-report measure of childhood gender-related behaviour in China. Archive of Sexual Behaviour, 39, 807-815. doi: 10.1007/s10508-008-9403-4