Lesbian and gay parenting : a feminist social constructionist analysis
In this thesis, I explore the construction of lesbian and gay parenting in psychology (Part 1), in the media (Part 2), and in lesbian and gay parents' talk (Part 3). My research brings together a diverse range of influences and ideas from lesbian and gay psychology, feminist psychology, and constructionist and discursive research. I draw on varied data sources: the psychological and lesbian feminist literature on lesbian (and gay) parenting, television talk shows, documentaries and newspaper articles, and research interviews with lesbian and gay parents. These data are analysed within a feminist constructionist framework, using discourse analysis. The thesis is divided into three parts. In Part 1.1 present my analysis of the psychological and lesbian feminist literature on lesbian (and gay) parenting. In this part of the thesis, I treat the literature as data and explore what it reveals about the social construction of lesbian and gay parenting. First, I provide a historical overview of the literature on lesbians and parenting over the last one hundred years. Then, I focus in detail on how discourses of sameness and difference and discourses of science inform the construction of lesbian (and gay) parenting in the literature. In Part 2, I analyse media constructions of lesbian and gay parenting. First, I identify arguments against lesbian and gay parenting in talk shows and in newspaper articles. Second, I focus specifically on talk show debates and analyse how these debates are constructed and identify the key themes informing pro-lesbian/gay parenting discourse on talk shows. In Part 3, I focus in detail on lesbian and gay parents' talk about two issues that significantly inform psychological and media debates about their fitness to parent: homophobic bullying and male role models. I explore how lesbian and gay parents engage with anti-lesbian/gay claims about homophobic bullying and male role models, and the ways in which they construct bullying and role models in the process of discursively managing their identity as 'bad' parents. In the final chapter, I discuss the contributions and implications of my research, and indicate some future developments for research on lesbian and gay parenting and for lesbian and gay psychology.