Developmental Latent Patterns of Identification as Mostly Heterosexual Versus Lesbian, Gay, or Bisexual

J Res Adolesc. 2017 Mar;27(1):246-253. doi: 10.1111/jora.12266. Epub 2016 May 14.


Scant research exists on the development of mostly heterosexual identity, the largest sexual orientation minority subgroup. We used longitudinal latent class analysis to characterize the patterns of identification with lesbian, gay, bisexual (LGB), or mostly heterosexual identities from ages 12 to 23 in 13,859 youth (57% female) in a U.S. national cohort. Three classes emerged: completely heterosexual (88.2%), mostly heterosexual (9.5%), and LGB (2.4%). LGB class youth generally identified with sexual minority identities by ages 12-17. In contrast, mostly heterosexual class youth identified with sexual minority identities gradually, with steady increases in endorsement starting at the age of 14. Developmental implications of these differential patterns are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Development / physiology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Latent Class Analysis*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Self Concept
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sexual Partners
  • Young Adult