I always think sexual orientation is a fixed thing. I just gave myself label like “gay,” “straight,” and “bi” before I even noticed it. And I probably would never remove that label. But psychologists suggest that sexual orientation is fluid, and that people may change their sexual orientations during adolescence.
1 in 5 teens report change in sexual orientation
To study how sexual orientation changes, the psychologists surveyed 744 high school students in the southern US over a three-year period about their self-reported sexual identities, romantic attractions and sexual behavior.
It turns out that 19% of teens changed at least once in self-labeled sexual orientation, like switching from heterosexual to bisexual. Some even changed their identity several times.
In addition, girls were more likely to change their sexual identity, with 26% reporting at least one change compared to only 11% of boys.
Changes in romantic attractions
Along with sexual identity, the psychologists also asked teens about the nature of their romantic attractions — that is, whether they were attracted to boys or girls. It turns out that 21% changed at least once. Specifically, 31% girls and 10% boys reported changes.
These results highlighted the fact that people may change their sexual orientations and who they feel attracted to during adolescence.
"Some adolescents shifted between sexual minority identities and/or attractions — gay or lesbian, bisexual, etc. as well as varying degrees of same-sex attractions — across all three years, others fluctuated between heterosexual and sexual minority groups,” said lead author J. Stewart.
Even among teens who said they were heterosexual, some boys and girls said they were attracted to the opposite sex or had same-sex sexual behavior over the three-year period.
Let me clarify it, the study does not mean that sexual orientation can be changed through some kind of therapy. That is harmful and useless. Instead, adolescence is an important time to explore one’s identity, including sexual orientation. So, parents out there should offer more care and attention to your kids during adolescence and prepare to help them.