Nearly 25% of U.S. students don’t identify as heterosexual, according to a report published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The percentage represents a nearly 13% increase from students who identified as non-hetero in 2015.
Data from the CDC’s 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) survey found that 75.5% of students in grades nine through 12 identified as heterosexual. But the remaining 24.5% of students didn’t all identify as LGBTQ+.
Approximately 12.2% of students identified as bisexual, 5.2% identified as questioning, 3.9% identified as other, and 3.2% as gay or lesbian, The Hill reported.
The survey tracks student behaviors and is conducted every other year. The 2021 survey asked questions of 17,508 students in 152 schools nationwide. In 2015, the survey found that only 11% of students identified as non-hetero.
However, the recent increase in non-hetero students may be a result of the YRBSS changing its questions on sexual identity. The most recent YRBSS survey included the two following new options for students to describe their sexual identities: “I am not sure about my sexual identity (questioning),” or, “I describe my sexual identity in some other way.”
In 2021, a report from The Trevor Project showed that LGBTQ+ youth are increasingly identifying outside the gender binary. The report found that, of 35,000 LGBTQ+ youth ages 13 to 24, nearly 26% identified as nonbinary, with an additional 20% reporting they were still questioning their possible nonbinary identity.
The numbers represented an increase from studies in the mid-2010s which showed that 0.3% to 0.6% of adults in the U.S. identified as transgender, according to Yahoo! Life.
The results also echoed a Gallup poll from earlier in 2021 that found that 20% of adults under the age of 25 identify as LGBTQ+ in some way, with most of the respondents identifying as bisexual. Older generations in that survey were less likely to identify as LGBTQ+.
Similarly, a June 2022 Pew Research Center report found that over 5% of adults under the age of 30 identified as either transgender or nonbinary.
A June 2022 USA Today report found that more people from Generation Z identify as LGBTQ+ than people from any previous generation. The increase, the report found, was likely the result of increased social acceptance and visibility of LGBTQ+ people, thanks to the civil rights activism of previous generations.