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Childhood Maltreatment, Gender Nonconformity, and Adolescent Sexual Orientation: A Prospective Birth Cohort Study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e984-e994
JournalChild Development
Volume91
Issue number4
Early online date18 Oct 2019
DOIs
Accepted/In press27 Aug 2019
E-pub ahead of print18 Oct 2019
PublishedJul 2020

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Abstract

This study tested whether associations between childhood maltreatment and adolescent sexual orientation were accounted for by childhood gender nonconforming behavior (GNCB) in a prospective birth cohort (N = 5,007). Childhood parental maltreatment (physical and emotional) and GNCB were assessed on multiple occasions up to age 6 years, and sexual orientation at 15.5 years. Boys with a history of maltreatment were significantly more likely to be nonheterosexual. Using propensity score weighting, maltreatment was associated with a 3.5% (p =.03) increase in the prevalence of nonheterosexuality accounting for confounders not including GNCB, and by 2.9% (p =.06) when also accounting for GNCB. These findings suggest that maltreatment is associated with an increased prevalence of nonheterosexuality in boys but may be explained by confounding factors including GNCB.

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