Worsening Perceptions of Family Connectedness and Parent Support for Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Adolescents

  • Ryan J. WatsonEmail author
  • Hilary A. Rose
  • Marion Doull
  • Jones Adjei
  • Elizabeth Saewyc
Original Paper



Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) adolescents often report compromised relations with their families. Given the recent changes in societal attitudes toward LGB individuals, in respect to rights for marriage and other legal statuses, we explore whether or not there has been a change in how LGB and heterosexual adolescents perceive their family relations over time.


Using the British Columbia Adolescent Health Survey from British Columbia, Canada (N = 99,373; Mage = 14.8), we investigated the trends and disparities in family connectedness and mother/father support in four data sets from 1998 to 2013.


We found that while levels of perceived family connectedness and parent support have increased for heterosexual adolescents since 1998, the same increases were not found for LGB adolescents. Among LGB participants, levels of perceived connectedness/support generally decreased in each survey wave, especially among females. Alarmingly, significant disparities in these perceptions remained for LGB youth over time.


Our findings have implications for supportive interventions focused on LGB adolescents and their families and in particular, the role of father support.


Family connectedness LGB Mothers Fathers Sexual minorities 



The authors acknowledge the McCreary Centre Society for permission to access the British Columbia Adolescent Health Survey. We also acknowledge Mauricio Coronel for statistical assistance.

Author Contributions

R.W. ran the data analyses and wrote the paper. H.R. collaborated with the conceptualization of the study and wrote part of the paper. M.D. and J.A. helped to analyze the data and contributed to writing portions of the manuscript. E.S. conceptualized the study, collected data, helped to interpret models, and contributing to writing and revising the manuscript.


This study was funded by grants #CPP 86374 and #MOP 119472 from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Watson acknowledges support from the National Institutes of Drug Abuse grant K01DA047918.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Human Development and Family SciencesUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  2. 2.Concordia University, MontrealQuebecCanada
  3. 3.University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  4. 4.Red Deer CollegeRed DeerCanada

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