Sexual identity, which encompasses sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender roles, influences sexual behavior and is shaped by a variety of social and cultural factors. Sexual identity can be represented as a continuum and may vary over time and with changing circumstances. Many teens engage in sexual exploration with same-sex friends. Sexual behavior, especially during early or middle adolescence, does not necessarily reflect present or future sexual identity. Providers may encounter teens who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, unsure, or uncomfortable with their sexual orientation or gender identity. Many of these youth remain unidentified and secretive because they are not comfortable enough to identify themselves and their sexual concerns.
What is it like for teens who are exploring their sexual orientation?
Understanding teenage sexual behaviour, sexual attraction and sexual identity
During adolescence, teens learn to relate to their peers as friends and potential romantic or sexual partners. This is a normal part of teen development. Sexual thoughts can be intense or confusing. Sexual orientation refers to the gender traditionally, but not limited to, male or female that a person is attracted to. People usually consider themselves in one of the following ways:. These feelings can cause uncertainty for a young person, which could be made worse by:. This can be a confusing time, but also an exciting time for your teen as he or she becomes more open with who they are.
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Most parents want to know why this happened. Why did their teen sexually harm someone else? There is almost never a single reason why a teen engages in illegal sexual behavior. More often such behavior is the result of many factors. Following are the most common reasons. Most adolescents are curious about sex. Some of them will take advantage of an opportunity to find out more—with younger children. The police may charge them, and even arrest them, perhaps at school, and take them into custody and that they may be held in detention and charged as a delinquent, or in some cases, with an adult crime. They also may not know that there are additional legal and other consequences for such behaviors can be devastating to them, the person they offended, as well as their families and friends.
It may be quick and easy for some, or longer and more difficult for others. Feelings of being "different" emerge throughout childhood, although it may not be clear to the child what the feelings means. Children may begin exploring gender and relationships before kindergarten, so "coming out" and sharing these feelings of being different with others may happen at any time. For many kids, gender identity becomes clear around puberty as they develop gender characteristics and stronger romantic attractions. However, many LGBT teens have said, in retrospect, that they began to sense something "different" about themselves early in life, and for gender diverse youth, sometimes as far back as preschool.