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Prof Henny Bos, Professor Sexual and Gender diversity in Families and Youth
Credits: Dirk Gillissen

Henny Bos carries out research into same-sex parenting families and sexual minority youth. Bos is the co-investigator of the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS), the longest-running prospective study on lesbian mothers who had children as the result of donor insemination during the lesbian baby boom of the 1980s. Now in its 31st year, the NLLFS began with interviews of the prospective mothers (birth mothers and co-mothers) before the children were born and focused on parental relationships, social supports, reasons and motives for pregnancy, concerns about stigmatisation and coping strategies.

As professor at the UvA, Bos will focus on (1) lesbian, gay and transgender parenthood, and (2) sexual minority and gender nonconforming youth. Studying gay father families, lesbian and gay father co-parenting arrangement families, and transgender parent families might help to tease apart the relative influences of gender, genetic connections and minority status on child-rearing and child development. These studies could benefit from including measures of resilience, as well as assessments of how parents deal with and prepare their offspring for the prospect of homophobic or transphobic discrimination.

Sexual minority and gender nonconforming youth are more prone to develop psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, reduced self-esteem, and suicidal thoughts than their counterparts who identify as heterosexual and/or are gender conforming. Studies have shown that schools are less safe, especially for gender nonconforming, same-sex attracted adolescents. The seriousness of this victimisation and the consequences on the psychological well-being of sexual minority and gender nonconforming youth prompt the need for developing and evaluating interventions that can teach heterosexual youth effective ways to understand the mechanism of hetero-normativity and homophobic/transphobic victimisation and to change their negative attitudes and behaviour regarding sexual minority and gender nonconforming youth.

About Henny Bos

Bos has been affiliated with the UvA since 2000, initially as PhD researcher and assistant professor and since 2012 as associate professor. Between 2012 and 2017, she combined her post as associate professor with visiting research positions at San Diego State University, University of Virginia and the University of California in Los Angeles.

Bos is internationally known for her research on lesbian mother families in the U.S. and the Netherlands, and on gay father families, same-sex attracted and gender-nonconforming youth. In 2017 she was awarded the ‘Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award’ by the American Psychological Association’s (APA) division of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual Psychology.

Bos has published extensively in various international peer-reviewed journals such as The Journal of Sex Research, Journal of Health Psychology and the Journal of Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics. She is also a member of the editorial board of various publications, including the Journal of Lesbian Studies and Journal of GLBT Family Studies.