Researcher: 1 to 21 Percent of Teens May Claim to be Gay
USA Today reports on a speech to the American Psychological Association by Cornell University's Ritch Savin-Williams, who says it's much harder to determine "who's gay" in culling study participants for psychology research on sexuality because teens classify themselves in much broader ways today:
"For example, estimates could range from as few as 1% of the population to as many as 21%, because many young people do not actually say they're gay, even though they talk about sexual encounters with same-sex partners or same-sex romantic attraction. In his presentation, Savin-Williams cited several studies on the way teens categorize their sexual preferences and behavior, to illustrate the difficulties researchers have in studying adolescent sexuality. Some describe themselves as 'mostly heterosexual.' He also explained that new research isn't finding some of the differences that have in the past suggested gay youth are more at risk for mental health problems than other teens. He cited one recent study, for example, that found no greater delinquency or risk for substance abuse among gay youth, despite reports about greater risk in earlier research. 'Not all gay youth are less healthy than heterosexuals, but there is a sub-population of same-sex oriented individuals who are accounting for nearly all the mental health differences between gays and straights,' he says."
Savin-Williams is the author of The New Gay Teenager.