Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Teens, Technology and Romantic Relationships

Appendix A: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Teens

3% of Teens Identify as Transgender; 2% Identify as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual; and 3% are Unsure of Their Sexual Orientation

Given that the topic of this study was friendships and romantic relationships, this survey asked teens about their sexual orientation and their gender identity. While the number of teens responding who identified as LGTBQ was not large enough to use sexual orientation or gender identity as a point of analysis, we share the data here for those who may be otherwise interested in this data from a nationally representative sample of American teens ages 13 to 17.

Most teens in this study describe their sexual orientation as heterosexual and their gender identity as not transgender. The survey measured sexual orientation by asking teens to identify whether they consider themselves to be “straight,” “bisexual,” “gay or lesbian,” “something else,” or if they are not sure of their sexual orientation. Their responses are as follows:

  • 93% identify as straight
  • 3% are not sure what their sexual orientation is, and 1% refused to provide their sexual orientation
  • 2% identify as bisexual
  • Fewer than 1% identify as gay or lesbian

Another 1% identify as something other than straight, gay or lesbian, or bisexual. Teens who selected this option were allowed to write in how they view their own sexual orientation, and their responses included the following: “pansexual” (3 mentions), “demisexual,” “feminina,” “none of your business,” “ninguno,” “regular,” and “13!”

In this study, 3% of teens identified as transgender, with 1% each identifying as male-to-female transgender, female-to-male transgender, and gender nonconforming; 95% of teens reported that they were not transgender, and 2% refused to answer the question.

Other research has found varying percentages of the teen population describing themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or unsure. Between 2001 and 2009, the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance study surveyed teens in grades nine through 12 in nine states about their sexual orientation, and found that between 90% and 94% identified as heterosexual, 1% to 3% identified as gay or lesbian, 3% to 5% of teens identified as bisexual and 1% to 5% stated that they were unsure of their sexual orientation. 12

  1. CDC, (2011) “Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Risk Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9 through 12 – Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance, Selected Sites, United States, 2001-2009,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, June 6, 2011. US Department of Health and Human Services.
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