Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Anna Stetsenko

Committee Members

Eduardo Vianna

Kristen Gillespie

Patricia Brooks

Mohan Vinjamuri

Subject Categories

Developmental Psychology | Gender and Sexuality | Politics and Social Change | Psychology | Social Justice | Social Psychology


fathers, gay parents, LGBTQ+, sociocultural context, gendering, nonconformity


Though the body of literature on gay father-headed families indicates there is no significant differences on measures of gender normativity and well-being between children raised with two dads and their peers raised by heterosexual parents, there is a proliferation of anti-LGBTQ+ policies throughout the United States aimed at limiting this community’s rights and silencing their lived experiences. Given that sociocultural and political environments vary greatly state-to-state, it is important to see how the specific context in which fathers live may impact their differential parenting of sons and daughters, their gender beliefs, and the way they feel they would navigate gender nonconformity in their children. To explore how fathers’ sexual orientation and sociocultural environment may impact the raising and gendering of their children, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 32 gay and straight fathers living in two different urban settings, Fort Worth, Texas and New York, New York. Using inductive content analysis, strong patterns were found in three areas: priorities in parenting, perceptions of gender and gendering, and strategies to navigate gender nonconformity in children. Though fathers’ sexual orientation did relate to answers about navigating gender nonconformity and the rigidity of gender beliefs, sociocultural context was more salient in responses about parenting priorities. Furthermore, the level of support shown for childhood gender nonconformity was contingent on the sex of the child rather than geographical location or fathers’ sexual orientation. This is the first study to explore fathers’ sexual orientation and sociocultural environment in their perceptions of parenting and gender, and these findings can inform future work with diverse family structures and the intergenerational perpetuation of gender conformity.