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Abstract

This Article argues that gender influences the expression of homophobic and heterosexist stereotypes about gay and lesbian parents. By conducting a comparative analysis of reported family law opinions, it shows that gay and lesbian parents are subjected to gender-influenced stereotypes in custody and visitation cases-stereotypes that are influenced by the parent's gender, the child's gender, and the judge's gender. First, gay fathers are subjected to two stereotypes that are influenced by the parent's gender. They are stereotyped as HIV agents and child molesters-men who infect children with HIV and sexually abuse children, especially boys. Lesbian mothers are not stereotyped as HIV agents, and they are rarely stereotyped as child molesters. Next, both gay fathers and lesbian mothers are subjected to two stereotypes that are influenced by the child's gender. They are stereotyped as recruiters and role models-people who encourage children to become homosexual. Although recruiting and role modeling stereotypes are applied to both gay and lesbian parents, they are applied more often to the parents of sons than the parents of daughters, and they are rarely applied to the fathers of daughters. This pattern betrays patriarchal concerns about the importance of fathers in the production of masculine, heterosexual boys. Finally, all of these stereotypes are influenced by the judge's gender. Male judges are more likely than female judges to accept gender-influenced stereotypes about gay and lesbian parents. This pattern reflects the observed tendencies of heterosexual men to accept homophobic and heterosexist stereotypes more often than heterosexual women and apply such stereotypes to gay men more often than to lesbians.

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