Adolescent and young adult sexuality: A study of self-identified lesbian and gay youth

Lisa Beth Schwartz, University of Pennsylvania


One hundred and ninety-seven self-identified lesbian and gay male youths (157 males, 40 females), between the ages of 14 and 22, from across the country, were surveyed for this study. Data were gathered concerning gay male and lesbian youth's knowledge and attitudes concerning HIV disease, their safer sex behaviors, internal homophobia (how s/he feels about her/himself being lesbian/gay), anti-lesbian and gay bias (how s/he perceives the world thinks and feels about lesbians and gay males) and "coming out." To gather these data, I visited fourteen social support groups, which have been established for lesbian and gay youth, across the country. A ninety-seven item questionnaire, based on the works of DiClemente, Nungesser, Troiden, Kirby and others, was distributed. Informal interviews were also conducted with volunteers from the youth groups. Results of the present study indicate that lesbian and gay males are informed about HIV disease, one hundred and nineteen (60.4%) scored ninety or above on the knowledge section of the questionnaire. An additional fifty-six (28.5%) scored between eighty and ninety. Thus, these results suggest gay and lesbian youth do gain information about HIV disease. When these participants were asked what is the worst thing about being lesbian/gay, one hundred and thirty one (66%) cited homophobia. In addition, data using Pearson correlation coefficients indicated relationships existed between internal homophobia and "coming out," anti-lesbian and gay bias and "coming out," willingness to disclose one's orientation, internal homophobia, an overall sense of homophobia and "coming out." The findings of this study indicate that sociopsychological prejudices associated with being lesbian and gay in this society (internal homophobia and anti-lesbian and gay bias) have a tremendous impact on the maturing adolescent and young adult. These findings suggest schools, educators, administrators and counselors need to work together to end the prejudice and oppression surrounding sexual orientations as well as to develop programs to meet the special needs of this population.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Individual & family studies|Health education|LGBTQ studies

Recommended Citation

Schwartz, Lisa Beth, "Adolescent and young adult sexuality: A study of self-identified lesbian and gay youth" (1990). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9026639.