Charlotte J. Patterson

Guilford College, Charlottesville, Virginia, United States

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Publications (93)210.58 Total impact

  • Samantha L. Tornello · Stacy M. Kruczkowski · Charlotte J. Patterson
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    ABSTRACT: Little is known about the family lives of male same-sex couples who become fathers via surrogacy. In a study of 52 male same-sex couples who became parents through surrogacy, we examined couples’ reported division of unpaid labor, relationship quality, and the associations between these two factors. We found these men reported dividing both household and child care labor in an egalitarian manner. They also reported wanting this to be the case. Biological linkages between a father and child were not associated with couples’ reports about how unpaid labor was divided. These male same-sex couples reported high levels of relationship quality overall, but those who experienced greater discrepancies between actual and ideal division of labor reported lower relationship quality, specifically less affectional expression and less relationship agreement between the partners. Our results add to the limited empirical research about male same-sex couples who become parents via surrogacy.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2015 · Journal of GLBT Family Studies
  • Samantha L. Tornello · Bettina N. Sonnenberg · Charlotte J. Patterson

    No preview · Article · Jan 2015
  • Rachel G Riskind · Samantha L Tornello · Brendan C Younger · Charlotte J Patterson
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives: We examined associations between adolescent girls' sexual identity and the gender of their sexual partners, on one hand, and their reports of sexual health behaviors and reproductive health outcomes, on the other. Methods: We analyzed weighted data from pooled Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (2005 and 2007) representative of 13 US jurisdictions, focusing on sexually experienced girls in 8th through 12th grade (weighted n=6879.56). We used logistic regression with hierarchical linear modeling to examine the strength of associations between reports about sexual orientation and sexual and reproductive health. Results: Sexual minority girls consistently reported riskier behaviors than did other girls. Lesbian girls' reports of risky sexual behaviors (e.g., sex under the influence of drugs or alcohol) and negative reproductive health outcomes (e.g., pregnancy) were similar to those of bisexual girls. Partner gender and sexual identity were similarly strong predictors of all of the sexual behaviors and reproductive health outcomes we examined. Conclusions: Many sexual minority girls, whether categorized according to sexual identity or partner gender, are vulnerable to sexual and reproductive health risks. Attention to these risks is needed to help sexual minority girls receive necessary services.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2014 · American Journal of Public Health
  • Bernadette V Blanchfield · Charlotte J Patterson
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: This study aimed to determine rates at which racial minority (i.e., non-White) and sexual minority (i.e., lesbian and bisexual-identified) women in the United States receive medical help to become pregnant. Income and insurance coverage discrepancies were hypothesized to mediate differences in receipt of medical help as a function of race and sexual orientation. Method: Two studies compared rates at which adult women ages 21-44 reported receiving medical help to become pregnant as a function of race and sexual orientation, using data from 2 cycles of the National Survey of Family Growth (the 2002 wave in Study 1, and the 2006-2010 wave in Study 2). Mediation analyses controlling for age and education level evaluated whether race and sexual orientation were positively associated with receipt of medical pregnancy help, as mediated by insurance coverage and income. Results: Heterosexual White women reported receiving medical fertility assistance at nearly double the rates of women who identified as non-White, sexual minority, or both. Differences in rates of help received by White and non-White groups were only partially mediated by insurance coverage and income in both studies. Insurance and income discrepancies accounted for all differences between sexual minority and heterosexual women's receipt of pregnancy help in Study 1; insurance coverage alone explained differences in Study 2. Conclusions: Researchers often indicate that economic differences are responsible for health disparities between minority and majority groups, but this may not be the case for all women pursuing medical fertility assistance. Possible origins of these disparities are discussed.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2014 · Health Psychology
  • Samantha L. Tornello · Charlotte J. Patterson
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    ABSTRACT: How have men become gay fathers and how have their decisions about parenthood shaped their experiences? In this study of 739 gay fathers from across the United States, we explored generational changes in timing of parenthood and its association with identity development, sexual orientation disclosure, and social support. In this sample, most men over 50 years of age, but only a minority of younger men, reported that they had fathered children in the context of heterosexual relationships. In contrast, few of those over 50, but most of the younger men, reported that children joined their family in the context of a same-sex relationship. Moreover, timing of parenthood was the strongest predictor of the fathers’ experiences of sexual identity development, disclosure, and social support. The findings are consistent with the idea that a generational shift is underway and that this shift has important implications for gay fathers’ experiences.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2014 · Journal of GLBT Family Studies
  • Samantha L Tornello · Rachel G Riskind · Charlotte J Patterson
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    ABSTRACT: We studied sexual and reproductive health among self-identified bisexual, lesbian, and heterosexual adolescent young women. Prior research has suggested that bisexual and lesbian young women may be at greater risk for many negative health outcomes, including risky sexual and reproductive health behavior. Using data from the U.S. nationally representative 2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), we examined sexual and reproductive health among young women 15-20 years of age as a function of sexual orientation. We used logistic regression and ANCOVA to examine differences in sexual and reproductive health across groups while controlling for demographic group differences. Bisexual and lesbian young women reported elevated sexual and reproductive health risks. Bisexual and lesbian participants reported being younger at heterosexual sexual debut, and having more male and female sexual partners, than did heterosexual participants. Further, they were more likely than heterosexual young women to report having been forced to have sex by a male partner. Bisexual young women reported the earliest sexual debut, highest numbers of male partners, greatest use of emergency contraception, and highest frequency of pregnancy termination. Overall, sexual minority young women-especially those who identified as bisexual-were at higher sexual and reproductive risk than their heterosexual peers.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2013 · Journal of Adolescent Health
  • Charlotte J. Patterson
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    ABSTRACT: Sexual minority youth are in the news as never before, and they are the topic of many public controversies. Research suggests that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth are often exposed to school environments that are hostile to them. As one might expect in these circumstances, sexual minority youth report feeling depressed, isolated, and even suicidal more often than do their peers. Laws and policies designed to make schools safer for sexual minority youth, greater inclusion of LGBT-related material in the curriculum, and establishment of Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) have all been proposed as ways to make schools safer for sexual minority students. The limited research evidence available now shows that the social climate for LGBT youth is more positive at schools with GSAs, but much remains to be learned. Overall, making schools safer for LGBT youth will require cooperation among school officials, teachers, parents, and others.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2013 · Theory Into Practice
  • David J. Lick · Charlotte J. Patterson · Karen M. Schmidt
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    ABSTRACT: Children of gay and lesbian parents are a diverse group, but existing studies offer limited information about individual differences in their social experiences and subsequent psychological outcomes. In this study, 91 adults reared by gay and lesbian parents responded to measures of recalled social experiences as well as current depressive symptoms, positive and negative affect, and life satisfaction. Participants reported differing social experiences (e.g., stigma) as a function of their sex, family type, gay/lesbian parent's sex, and age at which they learned that a parent was gay or lesbian. Despite such diverse experiences, participants reported no significant differences in long-term psychological adjustment. It could be the case that children of gay and lesbian parents learn to cope with difficult social experiences, leading to positive adjustment overall. Indeed, the current sample perceived their social experiences as becoming significantly more positive over the life course, with less stigma and more benefits related to their family situation during adulthood than during earlier developmental periods. Future studies of adaptive coping processes and longitudinal changes in social experiences among offspring of gay and lesbian parents are warranted.
    No preview · Article · May 2013 · Journal of GLBT Family Studies
  • Rachel H Farr · Charlotte J Patterson
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    ABSTRACT: Coparenting is associated with child behavior in families with heterosexual parents, but less is known about coparenting among lesbian- and gay-parent families. Associations were studied among self-reported divisions of labor, coparenting observations, and child adjustment (M(age) = 3 years) among 104 adoptive families headed by lesbian, gay, or heterosexual couples. Lesbian and gay couples reported sharing child care, whereas heterosexual couples reported specialization (i.e., mothers did more child care than fathers). Observations confirmed this pattern-lesbian and gay parents participated more equally than heterosexual parents during family interaction. Lesbian couples showed the most supportive and least undermining behavior, whereas gay couples showed the least supportive behavior, and heterosexual couples the most undermining behavior. Overall, supportive coparenting was associated with better child adjustment.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2013 · Child Development
  • Rachel H. Farr · Charlotte J. Patterson
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    ABSTRACT: Increasing numbers of lesbian and gay adults are becoming parents through adoption. The adoption of children by lesbian and gay adults does, however, remain a controversial topic across the USA and around the world. Several questions have been raised in these debates. For instance, to what extent do lesbian and gay adults make capable adoptive parents? Are children who have been adopted by lesbian and gay parents growing up in healthy ways? What factors contribute to positive family functioning in adoptive families with lesbian and gay parents? In this chapter, we present a growing body of social science research that has begun to address such questions. Findings from this research suggest that lesbian and gay adults are successful in adoptive parent roles and that their children are developing in positive directions. Research on these families has, however, been subject to criticism on methodological grounds, and we therefore consider the issues raised by such critiques. Further, in light of the existing literature, we point out directions for future research. Overall, the findings to date suggest that parental sexual orientation should not be a deciding factor in placing children with permanent adoptive families. We discuss various implications of this research for the legal system and for child welfare agencies.
    No preview · Chapter · Jan 2013
  • Rachel G. Riskind · Charlotte J. Patterson · Brian A. Nosek
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    ABSTRACT: Lesbian and gay people are much less likely than others to become parents, and psychological factors may contribute to this difference. We explored self-efficacy about becoming a parent among geographically diverse, childless, lesbian and gay U.S. residents aged 18 to 44 years (N = 1,098). On average, participants reported that they were uncertain whether they could overcome financial barriers to parenthood or become biological parents without assistance from reproductive health providers. However, they were somewhat optimistic about overcoming barriers to adoptive and foster parenthood, and they were optimistic that they could somehow achieve parenthood if they wanted. Participants who were younger, who reported that children with lesbian or gay parents enjoy positive outcomes, and who lived in social climates favorable for members of sexual minorities reported the highest self-efficacy about achieving parenthood. These results contribute to understanding of family formation among sexual minority adults.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2012 · SSRN Electronic Journal
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    ABSTRACT: Social climate—specifically, the level of support for sexual minorities in a given locale—helps to explain well-being among lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals. No published reports have examined whether well-being also varies as a function of social climate for family members of LGB individuals. We present results from two studies (Study 1, n = 69; Study 2, n = 70) demonstrating that social climate predicts well-being among adults reared by LGB parents, regardless of their own sexual orientation. Across both studies, population characteristics (e.g., density of same-sex couples in an area) emerged as the strongest and most consistent predictors of well-being. Some variables assessing local politics (e.g., LGB hate crime policy) also predicted well-being, though these associations were less robust. Overall, findings suggest that the social environment for sexual minorities is an important correlate of psychological adjustment for many Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2012 · Sexuality Research and Social Policy: Journal of NSRC
  • Source
    Samantha L. Tornello · Charlotte J. Patterson
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    ABSTRACT: Many gay men have become parents in the context of heterosexual relationships; ultimately, some separate from female partners while others stay with them. In this study, we compared the experiences of 110 formerly married gay fathers who were currently in relationships with men, 44 formerly married gay fathers who were currently single, and 14 gay fathers who remained married to women. In an Internet survey, we examined relationship satisfaction, parenting stress, sexual orientation disclosure, and gay identity among these men, all of whom had become fathers in the context of heterosexual relationships. Results showed that gay fathers who were currently married to women reported lower relationship satisfaction, affection, consensus, and lower overall dyadic adjustment in their current relationships. Formerly married gay fathers who were currently single or currently in relationships with male partners reported greater openness about their sexual identities than did still-married gay fathers. The men who were currently in relationships, however, did not report differences in relationship cohesion or parenting stress as a function of partners’ gender. In summary, self-identified gay men who were currently in relationships with women reported less openness about their sexual orientation and lower relationship satisfaction, but not more parenting stress than did formerly married gay fathers.
    Preview · Article · Jan 2012 · Journal of GLBT Family Studies
  • Charlotte J Patterson · Jennifer L. Wainright
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    ABSTRACT: This chapter describes research on adjustment and development among adolescents living with same-sex couples. Data were drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), which provided a nearly representative sample of adolescents and their parents in the United States during the 1990s. By selecting those youngsters in Add Health who were living with same-sex parents, and comparing them both to a matched group of youngsters living with other-sex parents and to the overall sample, the chapter aims to address questions about adjustment among teens living with same-sex parents. Whether they lived with samesex or opposite-sex couples, adolescents whose parents reported having close relationships with them were likely to report higher self-esteem, fewer depressive symptoms, less use of alcohol and tobacco, and less delinquent behavior. They were also likely to have more friends in school, to have more supportive friends, and to achieve greater centrality within their friendship networks than other adolescents.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2011
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    Samantha L Tornello · Rachel H Farr · Charlotte J Patterson
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    ABSTRACT: The authors examined correlates of parenting stress among 230 gay adoptive fathers across the United States through an Internet survey. As with previous research on adoptive parents, results showed that fathers with less social support, older children, and children who were adopted at older ages reported more parenting stress. Moreover, gay fathers who had a less positive gay identity also reported more parenting stress. These 4 variables accounted for 33% of the variance in parenting stress; effect sizes were medium to large. Our results suggest the importance of social support and a positive gay identity in facilitating successful parenting outcomes among gay adoptive fathers.
    Preview · Article · Jun 2011 · Journal of Family Psychology
  • David J Lick · Karen M Schmidt · Charlotte J Patterson
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    ABSTRACT: According to two decades of research, parental sexual orientation does not affect overall child development. Researchers have not found significant differences between offspring of heterosexual parents and those of lesbian and gay parents in terms of their cognitive, psychological, or emotional adjustment. Still, there are gaps in the literature regarding social experiences specific to offspring of lesbian and gay parents. This study's objective was to construct a measure of those experiences. The Rainbow Families Scale (RFS) was created on the basis of focus group discussions (N = 9 participants), and then piloted (N = 24) and retested with a new sample (N = 91) to examine its psychometric properties. Exploratory factor analyses uncovered secondary dimensions and Rasch analytic procedures examined item fit, reliability, and category usage. Misfitting items were eliminated where necessary, yielding a psychometrically sound measurement tool to aid in the study of individuals with lesbian and gay parents.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2011 · Journal of applied measurement
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    Rachel H. Farr · Stephen L. Forssell · Charlotte J. Patterson
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    ABSTRACT: This study investigated child development and parenting in 106 families headed by 27 lesbian, 29 gay, and 50 heterosexual couples (80% White, M ¼ 42 years) with young adopted children (41% White, M ¼ 3 years). Parents and teachers reported that, on average, children were developing in typical ways. Measures of children's adjustment, parenting approaches, parenting stress, and couple relationship adjustment were not significantly associated with parental sexual orientation. However, several family process variables—parenting stress, parenting approaches, and couple relationship adjustment—were found to be significantly associated with children's adjustment, regardless of parental sexual orientation. Implications for understanding the role of gender and sexual orientation in parenting, as well as for legal and policy debates, are discussed. Should the sexual orientation of prospective adoptive parents be considered when placing children in adoptive homes? The adoption of minor children by lesbian and gay adults has been a topic of considerable debate. Although substantial research has demonstrated that children of lesbian and gay parents develop in ways that are similar to those of heterosexual parents, families with lesbian and gay parents remain controversial in courtrooms, legislatures, and in the media. Meanwhile, many children await placement with permanent families. For example, in the United States, there are over 500,000 children in the child welfare system and over 100,000 children currently waiting to be adopted (U.S. Department of Health, 2008). If lesbian and gay adults are found to be capable adoptive parents, it is likely in the interest of waiting children that they be considered (Ryan, Pearlmutter, & Groza, 2004; Wald, 2006).
    Preview · Article · Jul 2010 · Applied Developmental Science
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    Charlotte J. Patterson · Rachel G. Riskind
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    ABSTRACT: For many years, parenthood was considered to be the exclusive prerogative of heterosexual people. Today, gay men and lesbian women remain less likely than their heterosexual peers to have children, but increasing numbers of openly gay and lesbian adults are becoming parents. In this essay, we review social science research on the numbers of openly gay and lesbian parents, the ways in which their pathways to parenthood may be changing, and the extent to which childless gay and lesbian adolescents and young adults expect to become parents. We have much to learn about supports for and barriers to family formation as well as the impact of decisions about family formation among gay and lesbian populations. Directions for future research on sexual orientation and family formation are discussed.
    Preview · Article · Jul 2010 · Journal of GLBT Family Studies
  • Charlotte J. Patterson · Richard E. Redding
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    ABSTRACT: In this paper, we provide an overview of variability across jurisdictions in family law relevant to lesbian and gay parents and their children, showing that some courts have been negatively disposed to these families. We summarize recent research findings suggesting that lesbian and gay parents are as likely as are heterosexual parents to provide home environments that support positive outcomes among children. Research findings suggest that unless and until the weight of evidence can be shown to have shifted, parental sexual orientation should be considered irrelevant to disputes involving child custody, visitation, foster care, and adoption.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2010 · Journal of Social Issues
  • Source
    Rachel H. Farr · Stephen L. Forssell · Charlotte J. Patterson
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    ABSTRACT: This study explored some dynamics of couples’ relationships in 106 adoptive families headed by 29 gay, 27 lesbian, and 50 heterosexual couples with young children. Regardless of sexual orientation, most couples reported long-term relationships, secure attachments, and high relationship satisfaction. Parental sexual orientation was related to how often couples reported having sex. Lesbian couples reported having sex the least often, while gay couples reported having sex the most often. Sexual relationship satisfaction did not, however, differ as a function of parental sexual orientation. Overall relationship satisfaction was significantly correlated with sexual satisfaction, frequency of sexual relations, and greater attachment security. We discuss these results in context of earlier research on sexual orientation, parenting, and couple relationships.
    Preview · Article · Apr 2010 · Journal of GLBT Family Studies

Publication Stats

5k Citations
210.58 Total Impact Points


  • 2014
    • Guilford College
      • Psychology
      Charlottesville, Virginia, United States
  • 1977-2014
    • University of Virginia
      • • Department of Psychology
      • • Department of Environmental Sciences
      Charlottesville, Virginia, United States
  • 2001
    • University of Wisconsin–Madison
      Madison, Wisconsin, United States
  • 1991-1995
    • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
      • Department of Psychology
      Chapel Hill, NC, United States
  • 1992
    • University of California, Berkeley
      Berkeley, California, United States
  • 1974
    • Stanford University
      • Department of Psychology
      Palo Alto, California, United States