Saturday, November 4, 2023

The shape of youth. . .

If you watched TV or paid attention to your screens or listened to the main news outlets, you would probably get the idea that half of all youth (18-25 years old) see themselves as something other than male or female.

Look at this survey which suggests that genders to which youth identify is not quite as diverse as some might presume.  In fact, the numbers of those not identifying as man or woman is almost statistically insignificant.  Of course, this survey does not unpack if those who identify as man or woman are the so-called cisgendered or trans.  Nevertheless, it ought to be relatively surprising to us that the overwhelming majority are not somewhere in between or outside the binary genders (male and female).

The sexual orientation graph from this same survey shows more diversity.  Indeed, though 72% are straight, some 28% do not believe they fit into that category.  Not surprisingly, the vast majority are either bisexual or gay/lesbian.  Here the numbers of gay/lesbian has ticked a bit higher than in the ancient past but the only real significant change here is with those who say they are bisexual.  While this is significant, what is not explained is whether those so claiming to be bisexual are merely experimenting (since those surveyed are 18-25) or whether this is a permanent orientation.

Putting the graphs together, you see clearly that 81 % of males say they are straight.  The bulk of the other sexual orientations are from women who claim those sexual orientations. Again, this is not quite the image you get from the media on the breakdown of the sexual orientation of young people age 18-25 and especially of males.  The 16% of woman say that they are bisexual (compared to just 6% of men) continues the disparity in that men are nearly twice as likely to say that they are gay/lesbian compared to women (6.6% vs 3.8%). Obviously, from this sample women are much more diverse in their sexual orientation compared to men.

Add onto this the religious affiliation of those surveyed and it is even more clear that the TQ+ side of the LGBTQ+ nomenclature is profoundly smaller among all those who claimed religious affiliation (no matter what that affiliation) and those who said they were other, athiest, and agnostic constitutions the largest for bisexual and something else.  To put it another way, the groups least likely to say that they are straight are atheists at 55% and agnostics at 53%. Did you see it coming that nearly half of young atheists/agnostics are not heterosexual?  Note that those who say they have no religious affiliation are much less likely to be straight compared to their religious counterparts.  Is there something going on here?

To connect this to gender identity shows that there is not a lot changed or shocking here whatsoever.  It is pretty ordinary.  Less than one in one hundred Christians say that they are not a man or a woman.  Look down at those considered more on the left or progressive side of America and even among atheists and agnostics, the vast majority identify as man/woman (97%).  You should see here that although there may be some trans folks hidden in these statistics, though not that many, it is significant how few college aged folks say that they somewhere between a man and a woman (non-binary).

By now your head is spinning.  The finish is those who describe themselves as man or woman and straight by religion.  Again, no big news here.  Some 83% of Christians identify as man/woman and straight --  just a single percentage point lower than Muslims in this sample -- but a third of Jewish people do not identify as a straight man/woman.  This is only  slightly different from Buddhists (63% man/woman and straight).  Again, there is clear evidence of a profound and positive correlation between non-religion and identifying as not straight and not a man/woman and religious just the opposite.  If you want to read more, go here.  My point in all of this is to say that if you asked most folks if there were more gay, lesbian, trans, and non-binary folk in America than there were say Roman Catholics, they would probably agree.  That is the image that media portrays (news, entertainment, and social media).  But it is not true.  Especially of a population more likely to identify outside the norm -- 18-25 year olds!

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