A record-breaking number of gay and bisexual teenage boys are out to their parents.
A new study, published in the Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity journal, shows that 66 percent of those in this demographic (ages 13 to 18) are out to their mothers, while 49 percent are out to their fathers.
This is a marked uptick from older generations. In the 1990s, for example, 40 percent of boys were out to mothers and less than 30 percent were out to fathers, the study noted.
The study polled nearly 1,200 teenage boys attracted to those of the same gender from January 2019 to January 2020 as part of an HIV prevention survey. People born between 1998 and 2018 are classified as Generation Z.
While the findings were encouraging to researchers, lead author David A. Moskowitz, Ph.D., noted there were still hurdles to overcome.
"This study is encouraging in that it shows that many teens, including those under 18 years old, are comfortable with their sexuality," said Moskowitz, an assistant professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University's Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing. "At the same time, we must be cautious, as the data also point to some of the same barriers and discrimination that previous generations have faced. Work still needs to be done."
To wit, among this demographic, the level of comfort with being out to parents varied based on factors like race, identity, and religion. White participants were more likely to be out than Black participants; gay participants were more likely to be out than bisexual participants; and those who were less religious were more likely to be out than those who were more.
"This gives us an understanding of the factors that move teenagers to share this type of information with the people closest to them," Moskowitz said. "We can now compare these practices with how other generations deal with these issues and think about what it all means for future generations."
Moskowitz noted that the study will open doors to more research about sexuality within Generation Z, including views on coming out among young women. "This study provides a road map for such an effort," Moskowitz said. "In the meantime, these findings should be helpful to those who work with teenagers identifying as sexual minorities."