More teens are reporting their sexual identity as gay, lesbian or bisexual, a survey from the Centers for Disease Control shows. And the number is on the rise, especially rapidly with girls.
Between 2015 and 2019, the percentage of 15- to 17-year-olds who said they identified as “non-heterosexual” increased from 8.3% to 11.7%, according to the CDC, which surveyed over 20,000 teen boys and 21,000 teen girls, with respondents having an average age of 16.
The percentage of boys who identified as non-heterosexual rose from 4.5% to 5.7% between 2015 and 2019.
For girls, the increase went from 12.2% in 2015 to 17.8% in 2019.
Since 2015, the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey has had questions about respondents’ sexual identity and the gender of their intimate contacts. Before 2015, those questions were included only on some regional surveys. Non-hetero gender identity for boys and girls has been on the rise since 2005, but is now showing that a significant number of teens have opted for an alternate gender identity.
In the 2019 results, the percentage of high school students who have ever had sex declined from 46% in 2009 to 38% in 2019. The percentage of students who had been with four or more sexual partners also declined from 14% in 2009 to 9% in 2019.
Also from the survey, 25% of students reported being bullied, 8% students reported physical dating violence, and 11% reported sexual violence. During 2019, 19% of students reported seriously considered attempting suicide, 16% made a suicide plan, and 9% made a suicide attempt.
The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System was developed in 1990 to monitor health behaviors that contribute markedly to the leading causes of death, disability, and social problems among youth in the United States. The survey was again conducted in 2021, but those results are not yet available.