Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Communication Monographs 79:4 (December 2012), pp. 475–498.

doi: 10.1080/03637751.2012.723812


Copyright © 2012 National Communication Association; published by Routledge/Taylor and Francis. Used by permission.


Although lesbian mothers are often called to justify their family’s legitimacy, we know little about these interactions. The current study included 44 female coparents across 10 focus groups discussing the interactive process of discursive legitimacy challenges. Using the theoretical framework of remedial accounts (Schönbach, 1990), inductive and deductive coding revealed several existing and new types of challenges, accounting strategies, and evaluations relevant to interactions of lesbian mothers. Communicative processes unique to the interactions of female coparents included challenges emerging from societal master narratives (e.g., health care, education, politics, religion); accounting strategies such as leading by example; and evaluations related to the ways in which children render the family acceptable. Findings offer strategies for coping with the discursive challenges lesbian mothers encounter.