Homosexuality in Young Teens - Legit or just experimentation?

I work with young teens in trouble - That is the generic phrase for what I do. I work with children who have various substance abuse problems usually tied to some sort of abuse such as sexual or emotional or physical.

Taking this job I expected certain things from the kids, for instance: I expected them to be somewhat defiant, questioning authority, willful and possibly some rudeness…

I got most of what I expected…however, I got one more thing I didn’t expect. Nearly 80% of the teens I work with have reported one or more sexual acts with the same sex. Nearly 70% of that number report wanting to be with a same sex partner indefinitely.

My questions are thus: Do these numbers seem high to anyone?

Does anyone think there is a certain amount of experiemtnation going on with same sex teen partners that is normal or expected?

Have any teachers out there in mainstream highschools and middle schools seen other such phenomena? How about parents?

I am told, by the faculty advisor for the pride alliance at my university, that kids are coming out at 12 and 13 in some places. I don’t know how many of them end up coming to the realization, five years after that, that they had it all figured out right when they were that age, but it’s something they’re speaking out about at a younger age.

I’d be interested to know how many of them are growing up with a rigid socially conservative authority figure in the house or somewhere else where they spend a lot of time. If there’s to be rebellion of the “Oh yeah? Well I’M GAY!” type, it often helps if there’s something to rebel against. Og knows that was a contributing factor to my atheism phase back in the day. (Of course, the second time around, it stuck…)

I think it’s probably both. While there are certainly a number of kids who don’t know who they are with regard to sexuality, I think kids feel more at ease about coming out today than they did back in the day when I went to high school.

Many are rebeling against their parents no matter what their religious background is. Many want to say “F” you to authority figures of any kind and if you tell me I can’t then it makes it all the sweeter when I do.

Yeah, it does seem high. Maybe one of the factors is that gay kids are overall a lot more troubled than straight kids - the rates for suicide and homelessness among gay teenagers are way higher than for those of their straight peers.

I don’t know if this is true for drug problems too, but maybe you’re experiencing some selection bias.

I firmly believe that the vast majority of people, by the time they’re old enough to have sexual feelings, know perfectly well which gender they have sexual feelings for. I never understood how some gay people who didn’t come out until well into adulthood could claim that they “didn’t know” they were gay. Come on, how could you not know? I had it figured out in seventh grade. Of course, it was another 10+ years before I admitted it to anybody, but that’s another matter.

Given how many gay kids have emotional problems, I would venture to say that a sizeable percentage of the troubled kids you work with are indeed gay. Maybe not all of the ones who claim to be, but how many people would experiment (and continue to “experiment”) with a gender they’re not attracted to, even to get a rise out of people?

Yeah, what Laur said.

I’m sure that the demographic you’re dealing with will contain both a higher percentage of non-heterosexual people than the general population, as well as a higher percentage of those who experiment and/or do things to shock others or themselves.

I knew for a fact I was gay at that age and had the experience to back it up. :wink: There have been theories that gay kids tend to develop sexually at a younger age and are more likely to engage in sexual activity at a younger age than their straight counterparts. (granted, this theory is generally put out there by right wingers trying to prove that gay is wrong)

If there is a history of sexual abuse, they very well could be in a state of confusion about sex, sexual roles and identity. Perhaps for some reason it’s become ‘cool’ among their group to be gay or just different in various ways. Rebellion is also a strong possibility at that age. Or maybe a bunch of gay kids just ended up coming to the same place and you’re seeing a statistical anomaly.

Could these figures be influenced by people being confined in single-sex places?

Okay, I’m just tossing this idea out there.

I, unfortunately, know a lot of women and girls who have been raped or abused sexually, and most of them are so afraid of the opposite gender that they become lesbians because they just flat-out are afraid of men, and being a lesbian means they have another excuse to stay away from them. I know a few gay guys who were molested by women in the same boat, too.

I’m not saying that homosexuality isn’t an inborn trait; I’m saying that the human mind is a lot more powerful than we give it credit for, and being able to force yourself into a sexuality you wouldn’t normally choose is completely within the grasp of the human mindset. Gay people do it all the time to try to “conform,” so why wouldn’t straight people do it?

Anyway, that’s just my two cents - that it’s not necessarily that there’s a higher percentage of troubled gay teens; the troubles made them want to be gay.

Also, I knew I liked girls and guys when I was like …eleven. Right around when I discovered masturbation. So I don’t think it’s too unusual, that’s when puberty hits, you know?


I’ll repeat what I posted elsewhere at SDMB: Several state and national studies have found that gay, lesbian, and bisexual teens are more likely to seriously consider and attempt suicide than heterosexual teens. There are, unfortunately, not sufficient data to determine whether rates of death by suicide are similarly elevated.

Russell, S.T. & Joyner, K. (2001). Adolescent sexual orientation and suicide risk: Evidence from a national study. American Journal of Public Health, 91(8), 1276-81.
Remafedi, G. French, S., Story, M, Resnick, M.D., & Blum, R. (1998). The relationship between suicide risk and sexual orientation: results of a population-based study. American Journal of Public Health, 88, 57-60.
Faulkner, A. Cranston, K. (1998). Correlates of same-sex sexual behavior in a random sample of Massachusetts high school students. American Journal of Public Health, 88, 262-266.

:eek: This whole statement is so bizarre…

My wife teaches middle school, and has noticed that a fair number of her eighth-grade girls claim to be bisexual. For a lot of them, it seems to be simply that they think it’s cool. I don’t know if that sort of thing is a factor in the example in the OP, but it could be (I suspect there’s a bit more to it, though).

Or maybe it’s becoming more common because people are more generally (to some degree) bisexual than they’ve been able to acknowledge and explore under previously stricter social taboos.

This with what Ensign said I believe is very true

I think there is definitely selection bias going on. And this could be going in 2 directions, I agree that gay teens are more troubled, as HE states here. I also think that teens who are troubled are more likely to try what they see as “rebellious” behavior…acting out sexually, drug use, etc. Besides this, they probably have a lot of general confusion about themselves & about life, which comes from whatever it is that made them troubled in the first place.

I’m sure that’s a factor, but I don’t think it explains it all. (Note: I’m reporting second-hand anectdotal evidence; I don’t pretend that this proves anything). There seems to be a pattern to these things, groups of friends all deciding around the same time that they’re all bi, and girls within certain social circles (in particular the “popular” girls) that suggest that at least some of them are less bisexual than they claim, and are just claiming it to fit in.

Oh and the rate of suicidal ideation with the populace I work with is nearly 90%. This is the leading factor in what brings them to the place at which I work. I think this should be mentioned.

I find this kind of statement questionable, frankly. I don’t really put people’s sexualities under a microscope; I figure if you’re not what you say you are, what are you? I could very easily question the true ‘straightness’ of many people, teens or not, in exactly the same way, for the same reasons, but the usefulness of doing so, considering how difficult it is to get into another human being’s head, is questionable to me.

So, you’ve never met a girl that would go to a bar, make out with her female friends and announce herself as bi…only to later admit that she did all that because she thought a guy would like it? Because I have. It happens, you can believe it or not but it does.