Bisexual parents score higher than lesbian parents on psychological distress and lower on life satisfaction and happiness. This is according to a study – “Mental Health of Lesbian, Bisexual, and Other-Identified Parents and Non-Parents from a Population-Based Study” by Mark Assink, et al – that was published in the Journal of Homosexuality.
For this study, the researchers used data from the first wave of the “Generations” study done in the US to collect data on health and well-being of lesbian women, gay men and bisexual people (LGB) who did not identify as transgender and who came of age in the US at different time periods. That same study included a measure of psychological distress, measures related to mental health (life satisfaction, happiness, and social support from family and friends), and measures focused on LGB mental health (felt stigma, internalized homophobia and community connectedness).
A total of 366,644 participants were screened by Gallup for inclusion in the “Generations” study. Of this nmber, 3.5% identified as LGBT, and 27.5% of these participants met the eligibility criteria for the more recent study.
According to the researchers, “bisexual parents scored higher than lesbian parents on psychological distress and lower on life satisfaction and happiness. This is surprising because the overwhelming majority of bisexual parents are in relationships with male partners and thus would likely be viewed as heterosexual by the general public.”
For them, this result could reflect other findings “that bisexual women in different-sex relationships experience isolation and depression”.
The researchers similarly found that bisexual parents are be less connected to the LGBT community, which is also consistent with past studies’ findings – e.g. in 2017, a study found that pregnant sexual minority women whose partners had been predominantly male reported less connection to the LGBT community and greater anxiety.
Yet other findings include:
- Bisexual mothers experienced binegativity
- Most had been excluded by lesbian communities
“Parenthood for bisexual mothers involved with male partners thus comes at a cost from both the general public and the LGBT community,” the researchers stated, adding that “this has important implications for mental health providers, bisexual advocates, and of course bisexual mothers themselves.”
To end, the researchers added that services provided to people should include “parents with ’emerging identities’ like queer, pansexual, asexual, and others.” This is because “population-based studies have rarely included sexual orientation identities other than LGB, yet the present results indicate that parents with these identities perceived more social support from friends, and were lower on internalized homophobia than bisexual parents. Although the number of parents with other sexual identities was small, (the) results indicate that these parents are finding support and experiencing pride in their identities, contrary to bisexual parents. More research that examines parenthood among participants who identity with specific emerging identities is needed as more people become familiar with, and thus claim, these new identities.”