Paths to Parenthood Among Self-Identified Bisexual Individuals in the United States

Jessamyn Bowling, Brian Dodge, Elizabeth Bartelt, Megan Simmons, J. Dennis Fortenberry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Bisexual parents have been notably absent from prior research on parenting, despite comprising the largest proportion of parents among “lesbian, gay, and bisexual” (LGB) individuals. Indeed, recent national probability data indicate that young bisexual women are more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to report having at least one child. Intentions to have children, patterns of family planning and contraception use, and related issues have important implications for health and healthcare-related decisions and priorities among bisexual parents. We conducted in-depth interviews with a sample of 33 bisexual parents from across the U.S. who reported having at least one child (genetic, adopted, step or foster child, guardian, and/or warden of the state). In cases of intentional pregnancies, participants considered relationship and financial stability, job security and their ideal family size. Unintentional pregnancies, as well as pregnancy terminations, were often reframed as positive experiences. After deciding not to have more children, participants reported using contraceptive methods, including sterilization or long-acting reversible contraceptive methods (e.g., intrauterine devices). Instances of deception, in which partners deceived participants with false beliefs regarding their contraceptive use, were recalled negatively for the relatively small number of participants who reported such experiences. Overall, our findings point to a diversity in the intentions and ways bisexual individuals become parents, similar to parents of other sexual identities. Acknowledgements of the diverse experiences and concerns faced by bisexual parents may be beneficial in improving efforts related to providing appropriate and relevant health- and healthcare-related services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-289
Number of pages13
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Assisted reproductive technology (ART)
  • Bisexual
  • Contraception
  • Parenting
  • Pregnancy intention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)

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