One In Five Teens Change Sexual Orientation In High School, Study Finds

One in five teenagers report a change in sexual orientation during their high school careers, as per a new study.

According to the research conducted by North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Pittsburgh, data from 744 students in rural high schools in the southeast part of the country showed 54 percent identified as girls and 46 percent identified as boys. Pupils were asked to fill out surveys annually from their freshman through junior years or their sophomore through senior years from 2014 to 2016. The data showed that 19 percent of students had at least one change to their sexual orientation identity within that three year period. Some students reported multiple changes during that time. More specifically, 26 percent of girls reported a change in sexual identity, while 11 percent of boys reported the same.

"This work highlights the fluidity that many adolescents experience in terms of how they label their sexuality and who they feel sexually attracted to," J. Stewart, a Ph.D. student at NC State and lead author of a paper on the work, said in a statement. "Adolescence is a time of identity exploration, and sexual orientation is one aspect of that. One takeaway here is that the process of sexual identity development is quite nuanced for a lot of teens. And based on research with young adults, we expect these patterns will continue for many people into their late 20s and even beyond."

While this study is based on students in the rural south, the researchers are also interested in comparing their findings with other students in different parts of the country and transgendered students.

Photo: Getty Images

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