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The present study provides a comparative analysis of sexual-minority and heterosexual emerging adult women’s experiences seeking support for sexual issues from parents and friends. Participants included 229 college women (88 sexual-minority women; 141 heterosexual women), ranging in age from 18 to 25 years of age, who provided written responses to an inquiry about a time they went to friends and parents for support for a issue related to their sexuality. Responses indicated that the majority of participants had sought support from either a parent or a friend and that mothers and female friends were more likely involved that fathers or male friends, respectively. Sexual issues that participants reported discussing with parents and friends were inductively grouped into five categories: dating and romantic relationships, sexual behavior, sexual health, identity negotiation, and discrimination and violence. Issues that were discussed differed based on sexual orientation identity and the source of support (parent or friend); they did not differ by age. Participants generally perceived parents and friends responses as helpful, though sexual-minority participants perceived both parents and friends responses as less helpful than heterosexual participants. Overall, results suggest both similarities and differences between sexual-minority and heterosexual young women’s experiences seeking support for sexual issues from parents and friends.

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This is an author-produced, peer-reviewed version of this article. The final, definitive version of this document can be found online at Journal of Youth & Adolescence (DOI: 10.1007/s10964-008-9361-0 ) published by Springer. Copyright restrictions may apply.