April 18, 2023 | 4:26 in the afternoon
1 in 5 Gen Zs identify as LGBT, with new data showing bisexual women are coming out at record levels.
Last summer, Christine noticed a hickey on her then 15-year-old daughter’s neck. When she asked where it came from, her teenager turned bright red.
The girl then admitted she was dating a classmate and revealed to her mother that she was bisexual – joining a trend that new data suggests makes Gen Z women the most openly bisexual group in society.
“I really don’t care about her sexuality,” the mother told The Post. “I mean my sister is gay.”
But secretly, Christine couldn’t help but wonder: Was her teenager — living in one of California’s wealthiest cities and a freshman at one of the state’s most successful schools — just following a trend?
“This is a rich community and I think these kids have a lot of guilt for their environment. I definitely think in their mind it’s super cool to be a couple or gay for sure,” Christine said.
“I wonder if it’s about acceptance. Because I think the pressure for these kids to fall into the downtrodden category is so strong that they just want to be in some group.
Christine, who requested a pseudonym to respect her daughter’s privacy, is not alone in wondering why young Gen Z women — those born after 1997 — are coming out as bisexual in record numbers.
A new analysis of Census Bureau data reveals that between 19 percent and 22 percent of women ages 18 to 25 identify as bi.
This makes them the main driver of the shocking statistic from last year’s Gallup survey that 19.7% of Gen Z are LGBT.
Analysis by Dr. Jean Twenge, psychologist and author of the forthcoming book Generations: The Real Differences Between Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X, Boomers, and the Silents—and What They Mean for America’s Future, means that extrapolated to the 68 million-strong Generation Z has 7 million bisexual girls.
Dr. Twenge used data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse survey, which conducts regular surveys asking more than one million Americans about their lives each time and, unlike the decennial census, asks about sexuality.
Over the past decade, the percentage of all Americans identifying as LGBT has doubled to 7.2%. But bisexual identity is exploding: Only 6.9% of Millennials are bisexual, compared to 13.1% of Gen Z, meaning Gen Z women are now the most openly bisexual segment of the population.
Bisexual Gen Z women include Will Smith’s daughter, singer Willow, 22. She revealed that she is bisexual and polyamorous to her mother Jada Pinkett Smith during a 2019 episode of their show Red Table Talk, saying: “I love men and women equally and so I would definitely like one man, one a woman.
Riverdale actress Lili Reinhart, who at 26 is on the cusp between Millennials and Gen Zers, came out as bisexual in 2020 and said, “I just didn’t think it was a big deal. The way I look at the world right now, I think isn’t everyone bisexual?’
Many wondered what was behind this unprecedented jump. One theory is that social media can be a motivating factor.
Headlines like “TikTok Made Me Gay,” “TikTok’s Algorithm Knew My Sexuality Better Than I Did,” and “TikTok’s Algorithms Knew I Was A Couple Before I Did. I’m not the only one” fueled speculation that suggestible young people who may never have questioned their sexuality could be led down online rabbit holes. On TikTok, the hashtag #bisexual has 20.9 billion views.
However, Cornell developmental psychology professor Rich Savin-Williams, who has spent four decades studying adolescent and young adult sexuality, said he believes destigmatization is allowing more and more young people to come out.
“Social media has added to that visibility that there are options that weren’t available before,” he told The Post. “In a positive way, it kind of says, ‘Hey, look, you don’t have to fit into these boxes.’
Gen Z is the first cohort to come of age since gay marriage was legalized, and the share of Americans who agree that homosexuality should be accepted by society has jumped from 51% to 72% since 2002. Savin-Williams sees the growth of young people identifying as LGBT as a natural result.
“It’s not that the absolute number of people has increased as a percentage of their inner orientation,” he said. “The change was in the visibility and willingness of people to express it and declare it.”
Savin-Williams also noticed a shift in attitudes among young people who increasingly believe that sexual preferences are not binary—that is, simply homosexual or heterosexual—opening the door to increased identification as bisexual.
“What they’ve managed to do is say there’s a spectrum – and that was the key word,” he explained. “It’s possible to be predominantly heterosexual but also have some same-sex attraction or behavior.”
In this context, most of the growth in the LGBT population is among bisexuals — and especially women, who, according to Savin-Williams, tend “to be more flexible, to be more introspective, and to be more able to explore.”
Only 66% of women (of all ages) report being “mostly not same-sex attracted” and about 24% are thought to have some degree of dual attraction.
Suspicions that children “want” to be something other than heterosexual have gotten under the skin of some young members of the LGBT community.
“There’s this trend of average girls and fair women who are like, ‘Oh, men are nasty and girls are pretty. I wish I was bisexual,” said a queer Gen Z YouTuber in a video titled “Wannabe TikTok bisexuals need to stop.”
“You are honest and just want to be part of the club. Like, shut up,” she added. “As someone who’s in the club, it’s so annoying and you shouldn’t use your clear voice to silence weird people.”