Date of Award

Fall 2010

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Murray A Straus


The literature on gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) young people commonly assumes that GLB adolescents have difficult relationships with their parents, due to their parents' difficulty accepting their sexual orientation. However, research tends to show that the family experiences of GLB individuals are diverse. The current research compared the family experiences of GLB and non-GLB college students, specifically, levels of conflict with parents during the respondent's last year of high school, parent-child relationship quality, and physical and psychological assaults by parents during the same time frame, as well as perceived social support from parents at the time of the survey. Levels of depressive symptoms in GLB and non-GLB respondents were also compared. The possibility that parent-adolescent conflict mediated the relationship between sexual orientation, and relationship quality, perceived social support, or depression was also examined. No relationship was found between respondent's sexual orientation and any of the dependent variables, nor did any of the results suggest significant mediation. The lack of significant differences between GLB respondents and non-GLB respondents in this study suggests that the family experiences of GLB young people are not necessarily a great deal worse than those of their non-GLB counterparts. These findings are consistent with recent scholarship on adolescents with same sex attractions (including those who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual), which tend to emphasize the diversity of identities and experiences of young people with same-sex attractions. Implications for future research, particularly the need for more realistic models of sexual orientation are discussed.