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Are A Quarter of Young People LGBTQ?

rainbow flags at the 2018 New York City Pride Parade
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By: Wilfred Reilly – nationalreview.com

Why the surge in LGBT identity deserves a closer look.

Last month, in an NRO column jocularly titled “We Need a Return of the Jocks,” I mentioned that around 20 percent of young Americans now identify as gay — or, more specifically, as members of the “increasingly broad and alphabetically lengthening LGBTQIA etc. community.” Apparently, I spoke too soon and underestimated this figure. According to new data reported in The Hill, the actual percentage of LGBT young Americans is closer to 25–26 percent. For rather obvious reasons, this is worth discussing.

First, let’s review the numbers themselves. According to figures originally sourced from the Orwellian-sounding Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) administered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 75 percent or so of American high-school students now identify as heterosexual. Roughly 3 percent — combined — ID as gay and lesbian, while 12.2 percent identify as bisexual, 5.2 percent as “questioning,” and 3.9 percent as “other” (trans, nonbinary, etc. would presumably fall here). In what may be a measure of reading comprehension rather than sexual openness, fully 1.8 percent of responding young scholars said that they could not understand the question. Overall, “the number of LGBTQ students went from 11% in 2015 to 26% in 2021.”

Several things are notable here. Obviously, there is simply no genetic or biological explanation for a surge like this one. The percentage of Baby Boomers who identify as LGBT is 2.7 percent, and the main change in the “stock” of the United States since the 1960s and 1970s has been large-scale in-migration of Latinos from some of the world’s more conservative Catholic societies.

Popular “culturalist” explanations like “increased social tolerance for gays” or “more exposure to pornography” also basically fail. It seems wildly unlikely that either of those variables has shifted upward by 240 percent since 2015 (not 1966) alongside the growth of the non-straight population. Further, and importantly, mass rates of LGBT identification seem confined almost entirely to young folx — while one would expect a simple response to greater tolerance to involve citizens of every age.

One clue about what’s going on here is provided by the fact that a lot of today’s “queer youth” don’t seem to be very gay in practice. As noted above, only 3.2 percent of today’s young people say they are primarily same-sex attracted — a figure very much on par with many recorded in the past. That group is outnumbered about four to one by the self-declared bisexuals. For that matter, a surprisingly large chunk of today’s heavily female cohort of “bisexuals” seems to be spaghetti-straight in practice. According to data from the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology, 55 percent of self-declared bisexual women under age 30 have had only heterosexual sex (if sometimes quite a lot of it) in the recent past.

This 55 percent figure represents a 412 percent increase in — if you will — bisexual heterosexuality since just 2010, when the “men only” figure recorded for the identical cohort of women was only 13.3 percent. Further complicating this picture is the fact that sexually active people of any kind are rapidly becoming a minority among the young. According to the 2021 YRBSS report, the percentage of American high-school students who have ever had sex fell from almost 60 percent in 1991 to 30 percent in 2021.

The percentage who are regularly sexually active is now 21 percent. Likely, many high-school and college students describing themselves with terms like “gleefully poly-queer” have never even French-kissed anyone, of any sex. Indeed, entire fairly popular modern identities — “asexual,” “demisexual” — are based around the theme of never or rarely having sex.

So, what are we to make of all this? Responding to a viral Twitter drop of the CPSI data by the popular social-media account the Rabbit Hole (which focuses on statistics), Andrew Sullivan, the well-known gay columnist, gave one logical answer: “The most plausible explanation is that everyone wants to be ‘LGBTQ+’ now — so why not lie and be cool? Only problem is that this makes the ‘LGBTQ+’ community majority straight.” Sullivan was blunt and even a little harsh, but his point is clear. If we all set politics aside and simply look at the data, it seems empirically obvious that the best explanation for today’s patterns of sexual identification is what my fellow big-domes often call social contagion.

Not only is there already significant evidence of contagion (“rapid onset gender dysphoria,” etc.) occurring specifically within the context of “gender” and sexual identity, this is obviously also something our society and others witnessed during the growth of the great youth “scenes” such as goth and rave, the spread of negative social trends like anorexia, and even the post-1960s popularization and acceptance of teen sex itself. I’m only partly joking when I say that a 400 percent surge in the number of virgins with boyfriends who identify as “totes bisexual” appears to fit some previous patterns to a T.

And, dead seriously, there is a rather obvious reason why we would be seeing this pattern now. In an era when multiple major left-wing organizations use the “progressive stack” ranking of victimization to decide which speakers to prioritize, and I myself was able to write a best-selling book about people who seek notoriety by faking racial crimes, large premiums often attach to being considered unique (or different) and even “oppressed.” At such a moment, it isn’t hard to see why students and other young people, when given the option to move away from mundane middle-class white status and identify as something à la “enby x ace” (look it up), often do so. (In the U.S. and U.K., the demographics of atypical gender and sexual orientation seem to perfectly match this scenario. For example, in a recent study of young people who identified as transgender, nonbinary, gender queer, etc., 34 of 36 respondents were white, 80 percent were female, and almost all seem to have been middle-class.) The rapid spread of “Gender Unicorn”–style public-school lessons detailing the full range of possible sexual orientations and “genders” has likely not slowed this trend down.

What’s a parent to do about these trends? At the most basic and surface level of analysis, not much. There’s nothing wildly wrong with being bisexual (demisexual might well be the dream of fathers of girls), and a huge number of the kids claiming these edgy-sounding identities aren’t actually saying much — the percentage of people who truly are preferentially gay likely hasn’t changed at all. Speaking as a cynic, I’d say probably the worst way to prevent your teenage daughter or son from participating in a trend you aren’t thrilled about is to get hysterical enough about it to make it seem rebelliously cool.

At a deeper level, two tips do come to mind. First — and this applies more in the context of gender than of sexuality but is important — it is a hellaciously bad idea to let any minor child make permanent physical changes to his or her body on the basis of an identity that, statistically, the kid will very likely not hold in ten years. Second, there is a lot to be said for normalizing normalcy inside your home. Tell your kids that you’ll love them in any case, but also that postmodern ideas are almost invariably bullsh**, and that — as I said in my column mentioned above — there’s nothing wrong with being a boring, well-adjusted, middle-class kid from [insert name of boring city here].

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Source: LGBT Identity & Young Americans: Surge in Numbers Deserves Closer Look | National Review