Developmental scientists should seriously reconsider traditional empirical and theoretical paradigms that narrowly define sexual-minority adolescents in terms of those who adopt a culturally defined sexual identity label. A broader consideration of youth populations who have same-sex desires but who might not necessarily identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual, lead one to a very different understanding of sexual-minority youths than is apparent in most published studies. First, they are in most regards just like all other adolescents with similar developmental needs and concerns. Second, they are not a homogeneous group but vary among themselves in predictable ways. Third, this expanded definition allows us to conclude that same-sex attraction per se does not lead to pathology or to problematic behavior such as drug abuse, suicide, prostitution or HIV infection. Indeed, researchers and clinicians should focus on the resiliency that often characterizes sexual-minority youths.
Copyright 2001 The Association for Professionals in Services for Adolescents.