1 in 6 Gen Zers identify as something other than straight!
By Leslie Massicotte, Teens Climb High Coordinator
According to a new poll from Gallup, 1 in 6 young adults in Generation Z (people who were 18-23 years old in 2020) identify as something other than heterosexual. And the majority of those who identify as LGBTQ say they are bisexual.
What does that mean? It means that our younger generations are gayer than ever! Or at least, more open about it.
So many more young people are identifying as bisexual (when you like both sexes). Yet for so many years (and still today), bisexuality as an identity was often considered illegitimate, a “stepping stone” towards being “full on gay” or a stage of “still figuring it out.”
In fact, studies show that bisexual youth experience high rates of sexual harassment, bullying and physical abuse–often higher than their gay and lesbian peers.
But maybe this is changing as our younger generations are embracing this identity fully and proudly.
Young people are also embracing identities like asexuality (not feeling sexual attraction to others) or pansexuality (liking people regardless of gender). There’s a lot of misinformation about these identities: for example, while asexual folks might not feel sexual attraction, they can experience romantic attraction and do date!
From the Trevor Project. More on asexuality: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/trvr_support_center/asexual/
Pansexuality has some overlap with bisexuality but strives to move beyond the gender binary. Pansexual teens describe it by saying, “If I dig your energy, I dig you” or “I never want to alienate anyone in my sexual expression.”
Some teens are even more interested in breaking down the gender binary. The other day, I tried to teach a group of teens about the gender unicorn model and then introduce them to what I thought was an even newer cooler model to describe gender and sexual identity. But they were all like, “Leslie. Models can’t contain our gender expansiveness. We’re moving beyond gender.” And I was like, dang, ok. I’m here for it.
The already outdated (according to the teens I work with) “Gender Blob” model from the Trevor Project. Maybe it will still be helpful for some :) Where would you put your dot(s) for how you identify? You can have as many dots as feels right for you since we know that our feelings about gender can shift over time or even day to day!
Coming out as ace, pansexual, bisexual, trans, or anything other than straight and cisgender can be super tough. Finding others who support and affirm you is super important.
If you’re an LGBTQ+ teen looking for connection, check out your local LGBTQ Center or the virtual chat space called Q chat. And also, know that you are AWESOME.