In this study, I investigate how lesbian parents residing across the United States may or may not consciously resist or otherwise engage with ideas and discourses of toxic and hegemonic masculinity while raising their sons. Further, I explore the influence lesbian parents and the institutions they and their sons engage with, such as school, peers, culture, et cetera, may have on their sons’ understanding of and socialization in terms of gender and gender expression. I aim to discern whether lesbian parents feel that they have to combat the effects of these institutions on their sons. To accomplish these aims, I first reviewed relevant literature and theoretical perspectives, such as queer theory, theories on masculinity, and feminist perspectives on lesbian parenting, to frame and ground this study. I then conducted semi-structured interviews individually with six lesbian parents who are currently residing in the United States and have raised or are currently raising a son(s). My findings indicate that the lesbian parents I interviewed (a) teach their sons to feel free to express and identify with gender however they prefer; (b) have varying beliefs on whether gender expression and/or gender identity were “innate” or “natural” phenomena; (c) believe that certain institutions (such as school and peers) and personal social identities (such as race and ability) may negatively influence their sons by teaching and perpetuating the embodiment of normative traditional gender roles and expectations for masculine gender expression; and (d) envision new embodiments of masculinity through their sons by believing in their own ability to raise boys who will not grow to embody toxic and/or hegemonic masculinity. Ultimately, this research explores how lesbian parenting may act as a paradigm for diminishing the normalization of teaching harmful manifestations of masculinity in patriarchal society.


Thomas, Zareen


Sociology and Anthropology


Gender and Sexuality | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


lesbian parenting, masculinity, LGBTQ+, queer parenting

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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