Disparities in the intention to parent have been found for lesbian and gay individuals compared with heterosexual individuals, but little is known about what social contexts predict these differences. Qualities of family relationships, friendships, and romantic relationships may all play a role, but these have not been studied as a function of sexual orientation. Using a large national sample of adults in the United States, this study explored intentions for parenthood, ideal family size, and predictors of parenting intentions as a function of gender and sexual orientation. Results showed that fewer lesbian and gay than heterosexual individuals intended to become parents. In addition, among those who intended parenthood, lesbian and gay individuals reported smaller intended family sizes than did their heterosexual peers. Sociocontextual and demographic variables predicted parenting intentions similarly among all participants, regardless of sexual orientation. However, dissimilarities in the levels of these predictors explained some of the disparity in parenting intentions between lesbian/gay and heterosexual participants. Much remains to be learned about the role of sexual orientation in family formation processes.
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