LINCOLN, Neb. — A new study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln finds that the notion of motherhood among lesbian and bi women is much broader and more complex than traditional notions of it being either non-existent or thought of in terms of seeking data to reflect a so-called lesbian “baby boom,” Health Canal reports.
The study, based on responses from the National Survey of Fertility Barriers, focused on sexual-minority women’s desires and intentions to parent and on the importance they place on being mothers. Its findings highlighted the unique choices lesbians and bisexuals often face and, researchers say, punched holes in stereotypes surrounding sexual orientation and motherhood, Health Canal reports. The study was published in October in the Journal of Family Issues.
Half of the study’s respondents said it was important to have children. A quarter said it was not important to have a child, but did say it was important to raise a child, an important distinction, said lead author Emily Kazyak, UNL assistant professor of sociology. This suggested that lesbians and bisexuals often want children but don’t necessarily view carrying their own child as important, the article notes.
“Sexual minority women make this distinction between having children — being pregnant and giving birth — versus raising children,” Kazyak, the study’s lead author, said. “That was unique to sexual minority women; we didn’t find that with heterosexual women.”
Julia McQuillan, professor and chair of the Department of Sociology, said the idea of motherhood is different in a relationship with two women who are both biologically capable of having a child.
“Most heterosexual women can’t choose who is going to carry the child,” McQuillan told Health Canal. “But for lesbian couples, there is a choice — they can ask who is going to have the child and who is going to raise the child and it could be different people. That opens up a really interesting dynamic.”