Sex Roles, Vol. 41, No s. 7/8, 1999
Boo k Re
G ro wing up in a le sb ian fam ily: Effects on ch ild develo pment. Fiona L.
Tasker and Susan G olombok, New York, Guilford, 1998, 194 pp.,
A recent article on the front page of the Wash in gton Post described the
``gay by boom’ ’ Ð the recent growth in the numbe r of le sbian and gay
couple s with childre nÐ with the he adline , ``Gay Couple s with Childre n
Find the World is a Frie ndle r Place .’’ The story goe s on to de scribe a
number of gay and le sbian fam ilies in the Washington D.C. re gion, and
touche s upon the que stion of whe the r childre n raise d in such fam ilie s
expe rie nce adjustme nt proble ms.
Until recently, ve ry little re se arch has focused on the effe cts of gay
and lesbian pare nting upon the we ll be ing of the childre n. The present book
he lps to ® ll this rese arch gap by de scribing a longitudinal study compar-
ing divorce d le sbian-he ade d familie s with divorce d he trose xual female -
he aded familie s.
Ironically, although the study was care fully de signe d and exe cute d,
in some ways it is a victim of the rapid change s in the status of lesbian
wome n and gay men in We stern socie ty. The initial round of data was
colle cte d during the mid-1970s, with the follow-up data be ing colle cted
in the early 1990s. In many ways, some aspe cts of this re searchÐ through
no fault of the authors Ð are a historical artifact of the era in which the
data were colle cted.
The be st example of this is through the choice of divorce d, hete rose xual
mothe rs as the comparison group. The authors chose this population as a
comparison group be cause the lesbian mothe rs who participate d in the
study we re all also divorce d; thus, both groups of mothe rs share d the
common expe rience of having be e n marrie d. Howeve r, it might also have
made sense to include a compariso n group of intact familie s. For example ,
many of the le sbian mothe rs ente re d into long-te rm monogamou s re lation-
ships with a partne r following the dissolution of the marriage . In some
ways, comparisons to intact he te rose xual familie s might have also produce d
some important ® ndings.
0360-0025/99/1000-0639$1 6.00/ 0
1999 Plenum Pu bl ish in g Corporation