Relations Reporting on marriage, family, and sexuality

Sexual fluidity in teens

Family | A sign of sexual confusion, but also the possibility of change
by Kiley Crossland
Posted 11/08/19, 04:25 pm

Nearly 1 in 5 low-income teens in rural America reported a change in their sexual orientation during high school, according to a study released this week. The research raises questions about the permanence of sexual orientation and the ongoing battle to ban therapy for those who want to change.

The report, published in the Journal of Adolescence, used surveys from 744 high school students in the southeastern United States conducted from 2014 to 2016. Researchers from three universities asked each student about their sexual identity (whether they identify as heterosexual, gay, lesbian, or bisexual), their romantic attractions, and their sexual behavior for three years in a row.

Of those surveyed, 19 percent reported at least one change in their self-labeled sexual identity over three years, and 21 percent reported at least one change in who they were attracted to. For many, their identity, attraction, and behavior were inconsistent. Nearly 10 percent of female students said they were heterosexual and had at least some attraction to girls. Of the female students who said they were heterosexual and not attracted to girls, 12 percent reported engaging in same-sex sexual behavior.

Female students were more than twice as likely to report a change in sexual identity (26 percent compared to 11 percent of boys) and more than three times as likely to report a change in who they are attracted to (31 percent to 10 percent).

The study’s authors explain the changes as “identity exploration,” concluding that “many adolescents are nuanced and dynamic in how they identify and experience their developing sexualities.”

But the study leaves out an important nuance, said Michelle Cretella, executive director of the American College of Pediatricians. Namely that homosexual feelings are a lot more fluid than heterosexual ones.

She said other research has shown young adolescents who experience solely opposite-sex attraction will likely always feel and identify as heterosexual, while homosexual attractions in teens are more fluid than fixed. Cretella pointed to a 2007 study on sexual identity fluidity in teens that found 98 percent of adolescents experiencing heterosexual attractions retained those into adulthood. In contrast, she noted that the researchers found such significant changes in attraction among adolescents identifying as homosexual that “they questioned whether the concept of sexual orientation had any meaning for adolescents with homosexual attractions.”

Interestingly, the recent study showed that 75 percent of adolescents with homosexual attractions changed to experience heterosexual attraction only. That jives with a 2011 study of more than 13,000 teens that found 66 percent of teens initially unsure of their sexual orientation became exclusively heterosexual.

The study’s authors refused to show any support for therapy to help someone with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender identity confusion, saying the changes they documented were “internally driven,” not “changes imposed on an individual.”

But Cretella makes the jump they tried to avoid: “It follows logically that if such high rates of change in homosexual attraction occur spontaneously among youth, then many adolescents who desire and receive therapeutic assistance should succeed.”

The results of the study point to sexual confusion, not a natural experience of sexual identity fluidity, said Adam Donyes, the founder and president of Link Year, a one-year Christian program for post–high school teens. He pointed to the fact that students today are primarily self-educated about sex and sexuality and believe they can determine for themselves what is right or wrong: “Everything that is educating them and informing them is on their phones. … No longer are Mom and Dad, or teachers at school, the primary educators.” Everywhere they turn they see sexual identity fluidity, said Donyes, and so they begin to believe it’s the “new normal.”

He pointed to insecurity, a desire for attention, and early exposure to pornography as explanations. But Donyes also noted that teens today are looking in all the wrong places to fulfill a God-given need for relationships.

“Every teenager wants to be loved and wants to be needed,” he said, but many teens today “just don’t know what healthy relationships look like.”

iStock/AleksandrYu iStock/AleksandrYu

Vaping use and illnesses up

A report released Tuesday confirms underage vaping is still on the rise despite efforts this year to crack down on the epidemic. A government study published in the journal JAMA found an estimated 28 percent of high schoolers and 11 percent of middle schoolers said they had used e-cigarettes within the past month, totaling about 5.3 million underage users compared to just 3.6 million last year. The data was based on a national survey of 20,000 young people conducted earlier this year. About 60 percent of high schoolers said Juul is their preferred brand.

Of those who reported using flavors, about 60 percent said they favored mint or menthol. In October, Juul Labs voluntarily pulled its mango, crème, fruit, and cucumber flavor vaping pods from stores and announced on Thursday it is stopping sales of its mint-flavor e-cigarettes, its most popular flavor. The Trump administration in September proposed a nationwide ban on flavor pods, including mint and menthol. An announcement is expected soon from the Food and Drug Administration, and Juul has pledged not to lobby against any federal flavor ban.

Tobacco giant Altria last week slashed the value of its investment in Juul Labs by a third, taking a $4.5 billion write-down on its share. The Virginia-based company bought roughly a third of Juul for $13 billion last December. The announcement came days after a Juul Labs executive who was fired earlier this year filed a lawsuit alleging the company knowingly shipped contaminated mint nicotine pods to customers. In the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Northern California, former finance executive Siddharth Breja described a “reckless” and “win-at-all-costs” company culture, pushed by former CEO Kevin Burns. A Juul representative said the claims are “baseless” and that Breja was fired because he failed to demonstrate the qualities required for his job.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released updated national statistics on vaping-related lung injuries at the end of October, bringing the total number of cases to 1,888, with 37 deaths confirmed. The CDC said products containing THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana that gives the user a high, are linked to most of the cases and play a major role in the outbreak, but that it has not yet identified a cause for the lung injuries. —K.C.

Facebook/Save James Facebook/Save James James and Jeff Younger

Update on Texas custody battle

Anne Georgulas, the mother at the center of the Texas custody battle over a 7-year-old boy she claims is transgender, filed a motion Tuesday seeking the recusal of the judge who ruled in the case. Georgulas claimed Dallas County Family District Judge Kim Cooks shared and commented on a Dallas Morning News story about the case on Facebook, thereby inviting “ex parte communication.”

Cooks ruled last week that Georgulas and her ex-husband, Jeff Younger, should share joint conservatorship, including all legal and medical decisions, for their twin sons. Younger was awarded more time with the boys, including nights before school. James chose to wear boy clothes to school this week while staying with Younger, according to a post on the Save James Facebook page, a site run by friends of the family. —K.C.

Kiley Crossland

Kiley reports on marriage, family, and sexuality for WORLD Digital. Follow Kiley on Twitter @KileyCrossland.

Read more from this writer

Comments

You must be a WORLD Member and be logged in to the website to comment.
  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Sat, 11/09/2019 02:05 am

    The homosexual agenda has been pushed on America for nearly 50 years and they have accomplished all their objectives and more. One of those objectives has been to gain control of the media that the youth consume and portray homosexuality as normal, healthy and morally acceptable. The truth is that the manipulation of youth is a great evil. Not only that, but they prey on Christian youth and the weakest - the motherless and fatherless children. I have heard about the recent Disney film, Cinderella, where the fairy Godmother is a man with very definitive homosexual characteristics. It should be obvious what they are doing, for they are rewriting the cultural iconic stories making homosexuality a bedrock of our culture. Sadly, many Christians have embraced loving homosexuals, where they fail to call out the sin of homosexuality, the manipulation of the youth and the blatant propaganda. Here I acknowledge that we should bring the Gospel Message in love, but we should not forget to battle the cultural battle for the sake of our youth and especially the most vulnerable! I appreciate the work of World Magazine in reporting on these issues. 

ADVERTISEMENT