Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Bonander, A. R., (2016). Family communication about sex: A qualitative analysis of gay and lesbian parents' parent-child sex communication (unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Nebraska - Lincoln, Nebraska.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Communication Studies (Women and Gender Studies), Under the Supervision of Professor Jordan Soliz. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2016

Copyright (c) 2016 Allison Ronnau Bonander


As the number of same-sex parents creating families and raising children rises, the stigma surrounding parent-child sex communication (PCSC) remains constant. Parents serve as one of the primary sources of information regarding sex and sexuality to their children; however, gay and lesbian parent-child sex communication remains largely unstudied. Framed within grounded theory, the primary goal of this study is to investigate how gay and lesbian parents navigate and enact parent-child sex communication with their children. Through 22 in-depth interviews with gay and lesbian parents who have directly communicated about sex and sexuality with their children, the following four research questions were addressed: 1) How do same-sex parents understand and enact PCSC? 2) What topics and discourses are inherent within gay and lesbian parent PCSC? 3) How, if at all, do gay and lesbian parents discuss sexual orientation during PCSC? 4) How, if at all, do gay and lesbian parents converse with each other in preparation for PCSC? Participants discussed their experiences engaging in and enacting PCSC with their children providing a unique standpoint in gay and lesbian specific PCSC. Discussion of the findings are discussed in relation to the similarities of gay and lesbian specific PCSC and extant literature regarding heterosexual parent PCSC, the unique experiences of gay and lesbian parents during PCSC, and finally how gay and lesbian parent PCSC can further inform all PCSC research. Directions for future research are also addressed.

Advisor: Jordan Soliz