SF State News {University Communications}

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New study examines health of gay parents

August 27, 2009 -- A new study will explore whether gay men respond to the challenge of parenting differently than heterosexual men.

Photo of Professor Colleen HoffProfessor Colleen Hoff

The National Institutes of Heath has awarded Professor Colleen Hoff a $275,000 grant to study how parenting impacts gay men's health. The two-year study will examine changes in gay dads' stress levels, lifestyle and health habits, relationship dynamics, peer networks and exposure to antigay discrimination.

"When parenting-related changes occur in the life of a gay man, the stakes are much higher since they are already disproportionately vulnerable to risks such as HIV, substance abuse and depression," said Hoff, professor of human sexuality studies and director of the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality. The study will be the first to examine whether becoming a parent causes gay men to regulate their lifestyle in ways that protect them from risky behavior, or if the stress of parenting leads to increased health risks.

Nationwide, one in five gay male couples are raising children, and Hoff believes the trend to start families will grow as gay men and lesbians become more accepted by society and gain more legal rights.

"The results of this study will help public health practitioners and community groups to identify the gaps in support for gay parents and design interventions that promote healthy gay families and minimize health risks," said Hoff, a clinical psychologist who has worked extensively in the field of HIV prevention.

The study, which begins this fall, will be conducted by Hoff and David Huebner, associate professor of psychology at the University of Utah.

-- Elaine Bible


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