Teens are more queer than ever, reveals study

New research shows that ‘Generation Z’ have a much more open attitude toward their gender and sexuality

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Amandla Stenberg and Jaden Smith attend prom
Amandla Stenberg and Jaden Smith attend promvia @amandlastenberg on Instagram

A new study has found that teens are the most open-minded generation when it comes to their gender and sexuality – with less than half identifying as exclusively heterosexual. According to stats uncovered by Broadly, 52 per cent of Americans aged between 13 to 20 claim to be queer “to some degree”, compared to just 24 per cent of their older counterparts.

The results also found a distinct difference in attitude to gender, with 56 per cent of ‘Generation Z’ respondents claiming to know someone who went by neutral pronouns (like “they”, “them” or “ze”). A third also “strongly” agreed that gender did not define a person in the same way that it used to.

“Millennials are quite open when it comes to gender identity, generally, but they haven't been exposed to the range of vocabulary and nuance around this that Gen Z has become accustomed to, especially when it comes to discussions on online platforms like Tumblr,” Shepherd Laughlin, the director of trendspotting at J. Walter Thompson, told Broadly. “I think that as Gen Zers eventually enter the workplace and interact more with millennials as adults, millennials will gain a better understanding of these issues, and the gap will narrow.”

Laughlin surveyed less than a thousand US respondents for the results, though he has “90 per cent” confidence that the results can be generalised across the country – which doesn’t really come as the biggest surprise. Queerness and genderfluidity is probably the most visible it’s ever been: spawning celebratory art movements, and trickling more and more into the Hollywood mainstream. This year alone, both Rowan Blanchard and Amandla Stenberg have come out as queer, and Jaden Smith has caused a sensation as the new face Louis Vuitton womenswear. Who’s to say this isn’t the start of something a whole lot bigger?

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