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Perceptions of family acceptance into the military community among U.S. LGBT service members: A mixed-methods study

Sullivan, Katherina S.; Dodge, Jessica; McNamara, Kathleen; Gribble, Rachael; Keeling, Mary; Taylor-Beirne, Sean; Kale, Caroline; Goldbach, Jeremy; Fear, Nicola T.; Castro, Carl A.


Katherina S. Sullivan

Jessica Dodge

Kathleen McNamara

Rachael Gribble

Mary Keeling
Occasional Associate Lecturer - HAS HSS

Sean Taylor-Beirne

Caroline Kale

Jeremy Goldbach

Nicola T. Fear

Carl A. Castro


Introduction: Despite calls to increase representation of diverse family structures in military family research, little is known about the experiences of the families of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) service members (SMs). Using minority stress theory and a mixed-methods design, this study considers LGBT SMs' perceptions of family acceptance within the military community. Methods: Survey data from 115 LGBT SMs who have a spouse or partner, a child or children, or both and qualitative data from 42 LGBT SMs who participated in semi-structured interviews were used. Demographic information, perceived family acceptance by the SM's unit, leadership, and duty station, and beliefs about the appropriateness of military services for LGBT families were examined. Results: Many LGBT SMs, in both quantitative and qualitative findings, felt their families were accepted, although many still perceived a lack of acceptance, particularly regarding appropriateness of military family support services. No differences in perceived family acceptance were noted across sexual and gender identity categories. LGBT SMs who reported lower acceptance were more likely to report concerns about their family's safety and the appropriateness of family support services, as well as increased physical and mental health symptoms. Discussion: These findings shed light on the experiences of LGBT military families and highlight both successes, with respect to inclusion, and areas for more scrutiny. Results raise particular concerns about supportive services that are perceived to be inappropriate for LGBT families. Evaluating LGBT families' use of supportive services, barriers to accessing services, and outcomes of these experiences should be prioritized.


Sullivan, K. S., Dodge, J., McNamara, K., Gribble, R., Keeling, M., Taylor-Beirne, S., …Castro, C. A. (2021). Perceptions of family acceptance into the military community among U.S. LGBT service members: A mixed-methods study. Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health, 7(S1), 90-101.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 18, 2021
Online Publication Date Sep 27, 2021
Publication Date 2021-09
Deposit Date Jul 19, 2021
Publicly Available Date Sep 30, 2021
Journal Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health
Electronic ISSN 2368-7924
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Issue S1
Pages 90-101
Keywords General Medicine
Public URL


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