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Attitudes toward adoption by same-sex couples: Do gender roles matter?



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Within Canada, the right for same-sex couples to adopt children is a highly contentious issue. Despite all provinces and territories in Canada permitting adoption by gay and lesbian couples through their public agencies, this legal recognition has not been accompanied by widespread acceptance of the practice. Research advancing the understanding of the prejudice and discrimination directed toward sexual minority men and women who exercise their right to be adoptive parents is limited. In particular, few studies have considered how the perceived importance of gender role models factors into attitudes toward adoption by same-sex couples. Therefore, the present study experimentally investigated attitudes toward adoption by same-sex couples while considering the impact of parental gender roles on these attitudes. To accomplish this objective, this study: (1) assessed attitudes toward gay, lesbian, and heterosexual adopting couples; (2) examined if attitudes change depending on the sex of the child to be adopted; (3) assessed whether atypical gender role behaviour affects attitudes toward adoption; and (4) investigated predictors of attitudes toward adoption by same-sex couples. Based on vignettes describing adoptive couples, the results revealed that no significant differences existed in ratings of adoptive couples based on their sexual orientation or the adoptive child’s sex. However, the results revealed that heterosexual couples were rated more favourably when the male partner exhibited feminine gender role characteristics. Further, lesbian couples were rated significantly less favourably when both partners displayed feminine characteristics or if they both exhibited masculine characteristics as opposed to when the couple consisted of one partner exhibiting masculine characteristics and the other displaying feminine characteristics. No significant effects were found based on gender role characteristics in the analysis of vignettes describing gay male adoptive couples. Gender, religiosity, old-fashioned homonegativity, and beliefs about the aetiology of homosexuality emerged as significant predictors of attitudes toward adoption by same-sex couples. Limitations and future directions for conducting research examining attitudes toward adoption by same-sex couples are discussed.



Adoption, Gay, Lesbian, Homonegativity



Master of Arts (M.A.)




Applied Social




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