How many gay people are there in the United States? Estimates have always been shaky. In 1995, preliminary results from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health rocked the media and human sexuality circuit when they found that 5 to 7 percent of young Americans self-reported as homosexual or bisexual. Previous studies had indicated only 1 percent of high schoolers were gay or bisexual. The landmark study was cited across academia, spawning over 1900 peer-reviewed publications, and became one of the largest longitudinal surveys on the psychological and physical well being of 7-12th graders.
In follow-up interviewers in 2008 with the same individuals who had said they were gay or bisexual as teens, the teens, who were now ages 24-32, weren’t as gay as they once claimed they were. A shocking 70 percent of the self-reported nonheterosexual teens had gone straight somewhere between their PSATs and their first student loan.
The recently released study, “The Dubious Assessment of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Adolescents of Add Health,” has pointed out the glaring discrepancies between Wave 1 and Wave 4 of the survey.
You can read more. They go on to theorize that lots of the guys said they were gay as a joke.
But I want you to read this one passage and help me out with its meaning -
The latest study notes it’s not just our perception of how many gay teens there are in the country that Add Health got wrong. The serious consequence of this gay prank is a misreading of authentic gay adolescence in sexuality research. As the study notes, “these ‘dubious’ gay, lesbian, and bisexual adolescents may have led researchers to erroneously conclude from the data that sexual-minority youth are more problematic than heterosexual youth in terms of physical, mental, and social health.” If there were higher reports of nonheterosexual teens, then gay youth would have seemed more suicidal, depressed, or mentally ill than the demographic actually is.
What are they saying?