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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
Issue number4
Early online date18 Oct 2019
Accepted/In press27 Aug 2019
E-pub ahead of print18 Oct 2019
PublishedJul 2020


King's Authors


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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