1 in 5 LGBTQ Youths Don’t Identify Sexual Orientation as Lesbian, Gay, or Bisexual

More than one in five LGBTQ youth in the U.S said their sexual orientation is something other than lesbian, gay, or bisexual in a survey by The Trevor Project.

The Trevor Project asked 25,000 Americans aged 13-24 who identified as LGBTQ what they classified their sexual orientation as. While 78 percent said lesbian, gay, or bisexual (45 percent as gay/lesbian, 33 percent bisexual), 21 percent responded “something else.”

The majority of this 21 percent—18 percent of the full sample—indicated a different label to describe their gender identity. 12 percent of the full sample labeled their identity as “queer, trisexual, omnisexual, or pansexual” when prompted, whereas 6 percent opted to write in a response.

Among these written-in responses, the vast majority provided one sexual orientation label, including asexual, polysexual, heteroflexible, graysexual, and two spirit, among others.

Image courtesy of The Trevor Project

A substantial portion of the write-ins also made the distinction between sexual and romantic attraction, which some respondents labeling themselves as “asexual aromantic” or “biromantic homosexual.”

Dr. Amy Green, the director of Research for The Trevor Project, said in a statement that this survey revealed how much young people understand the complexities of sexuality.

“The Trevor Project often hears from young people who identify outside of the sexual orientation labels of gay, lesbian or bisexual, and many times they are able to articulate the difference between their emotional, romantic and sexual attractions to others,” Green said. “LGBTQ young people understand the complexities of their sexual orientation, so we hope to see the research, education and clinical fields expand their sexual orientation measures beyond lesbian, gay and bisexual labels in an effort to better serve LGBTQ youth.”

The Trevor Project concluded that these results “show that youth-facing organizations have the opportunity to significantly improve their forms and questionnaires to best capture LGBTQ youths’ sexual orientation.”