One in four teenagers now identifies as LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, ‘transgender’, or questioning their sexuality) according to a study released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (The survey did not include questions about “gender identity,” which is why the “T” typically associated with the above acronym and signifying “transgender” is not included.)
The 2021 study was conducted as part of a survey for the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), which “monitors priority health behaviors and experiences among students across the country.”
“The results help in understanding the factors that contribute to the leading causes of illness, death, and disability among youth and young adults,” according to the CDC.
Out of a total of 16,271 teenagers who responded to the 2021 survey, 74.2% identified as heterosexual, 3.2% as gay/lesbian, 11.9% as bisexual, and 9% as other/questioning.
Since 2015, the number of students identifying as LGBQ has more than doubled.
According to the report:
Increases in the percentage of LGBQ+ students in YRBSS 2021 might be a result of changes in question wording to include students identifying as questioning, “I am not sure about my sexual identity (questioning),” or other, “I describe my sexual identity in some other way.”
Notably, Nevada had the fewest teens calling themselves heterosexual, at 67.8%, and Utah had the most, at 85.2%. Females were five times more likely than males to call themselves bisexual, and three-and-a-half times more likely than males to say they were questioning their sexuality.
In a Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data Summary and Trends Report noting trends between 2011-2021, the CDC says teens’ risky sexual behaviors and substance abuse have gone down over time, but mental health and violence (including sexual violence) have worsened.
Among high school students surveyed in 2021, 30% have had sex, down from 47% in 2011. Asked if they were currently sexually active, 21% said yes in 2021, down from 34% in 2011.