Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

PhD Counseling Psychology

Department

Professional Psychology and Family Therapy

Advisor

Laura Palmer, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Margaret Farrelly, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Brian Cole, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Eunyoung Kim, Ph.D.

Committee Member

W. King Mott, Ph.D.

Keywords

gay men, parenting intention, perceived social support, gender-role conflict

Abstract

Parenting intention plays a fundamental role in one’s decision to become a parent. Higher levels of parenting intention indicate a higher likelihood of becoming a parent. For gay men, this process can be increasingly complex. There are a substantial number of factors that could play a role in a gay man’s decision to parent. Gay identity might play a role in the parenting intentions of gay men, as it has been found that loosely related constructs such as internalized heterosexism or outness do impact this decision. Perceived social support has been found to have both positive and deleterious effects on this decision-making process for gay men. More broadly, many gay men fear that becoming a father could reduce their individuality from the heterosexual community (Mallon, 2004). Furthermore, gender-role conflict has been found to impact parenting motivation in this population. This study measured the relationships between gay identity, perceived social support, and gender-role conflict on parenting intention in childless gay men. It was hypothesized that there would be a difference in gay men’s stated intention to parent depending on their stage of gay identity development when associated with perceived social support and gender-role conflict. A sample size of 165 gay men determined that significant results were found only with gender-role conflict. Men who suffer consequences associated with non-erotic touch with other men such as hugging were associated with being unsure of having children or intending to have children. Additionally, when gender-role conflict scores and gay identity were included in the model, having a gay identity in lower stages was associated with decreased odds of intending to have a child, compared to those in stage 6. The findings of this study suggest that the decision to become a parent is a complex process for gay men, and that gender-role conflict does explain some of that complexity.

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