Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 43, Issue 8, pp 1295–1305 | Cite as

How Statewide LGB Policies Go From “Under Our Skin” to “Into Our Hearts”: Fatherhood Aspirations and Psychological Well-Being Among Emerging Adult Sexual Minority Men

Empirical Research


Researchers have noted increasingly the public health importance of addressing discriminatory policies towards lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) populations. At present, however, we know little about the mechanisms through which policies affect LGB populations’ psychological well-being; in other words, how do policies get under our skin? Using data from a study of sexual minority young men (N = 1,487; M = 20.80 (SD = 1.93); 65 % White; 92 % gay), we examined whether statewide bans (e.g., same-sex marriage, adoption) moderated the relationship between fatherhood aspirations and psychological well-being. Fatherhood aspirations were associated with lower depressive symptoms and higher self-esteem scores among participants living in states without discriminatory policies. In states with marriage equality bans, fatherhood aspirations were associated with higher depressive symptoms and lower self-esteem scores, respectively. Fatherhood aspirations were associated negatively with self-esteem in states banning same-sex and second parent adoptions, respectively. Our findings underscore the importance of recognizing how anti-equality LGB policies may influence the psychosocial development of sexual minority men.


Gay Discrimination Resilience 



This project was funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health Career Development Award to Dr. Bauermeister (K01-MH087242).

Conflict of interest


Author contributions

Dr. Bauermeister designed the study, analyzed the data, and wrote the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities (SexLab), School of Public HealthUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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