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Misleading: Rise of LGBT Identification in Children

Tracy Davenport Tracy Davenport
10th March 2021
Misleading: Rise of LGBT Identification in Children
It is unclear exactly why the rate of children identifying as LGBT is on the rise (Getty Images).

The Claim

Media, schools, and Hollywood caused kids to be LGBT.

Emerging story

A social media user suggested that the increase in children identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) has skyrocketed as a result of the media, Hollywood, and the public school system. The post was then liked or retweeted 25K times. 

Misbar’s Analysis

Misbar found more than 10.7 million adults in the U.S. identify as LGBT, or approximately 4.3 percent of the adult population according to the Family Equality Council. The CDC reports approximately 8 percent of high schoolers are LGBT. For the first time in 2016, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control asked students to identify their sexuality (27 states agreed to allow the question). However, other polls have shown that younger people are far more likely to identify as LGBT than generations before them. 

It is true that the era that an individual lives is very influential. For example, in the 1950s, children did not see politicians, business leaders, and teachers who were openly gay or marriage between same-sex couples. They also saw few positive portrayals of lesbian and gay characters in movies and plays, on television, and in literature. In fact, it was not until 1973 that being gay was removed from the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In other words, prior to 1973, people who identified as gay were considered mentally ill. Today's children are also able to retrieve online information about LGBT issues. 

However, research does not support the idea of schools encouraging children to identify as LGBT. In fact, according to the lead researcher for the CDC report on LGBT high school students, these children were twice as likely to be bullied, both online and on school property, and more than twice as likely to stay home from school to avoid violence they felt might befall them on the way there, or on school grounds. Almost 30 percent had attempted suicide, more than four times the rate for straight students.

It is unclear exactly why the rate of children identifying as LGBT is on the rise. As with all human development, a multitude of factors are usually at play including genetics, culture, and the environment. However, it does not appear that the school systems are encouraging or even overall safe places for children to identify as LGBT. 

Misbar’s Classification


Misbar’s Sources

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