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Updated 13 August 2015

Gay, lesbian and bisexual teens

We look at the experiences and identity development of adolescents who are attracted the same sex.

Adolescence is the period between the beginning of puberty and reaching adulthood – from the age of around nine until 18.

Changes experienced during puberty
Adolescence is a time when most young people have to come to terms with:

  • Significant changes in their body as puberty sets in.
  • Heightened awareness of issues related to gender and gender roles.
  • Becoming aware of, and having to integrate, feelings of intimacy, sexual arousal and attraction.

  • The development of the breasts
  • Pubic and auxiliary hair growth
  • Ovary enlargement
  • The onset of menstruation
  • Sudden increases in growth and height.

  • Testicular growth
  • Penile growth
  • Pubic and auxiliary hair growth
  • Ejaculation
  • A change in voice tone
  • Sudden increases in growth and height.

  • Physical identity: the physical size, shape, function and appeal of her/his own and others’ bodies.
  • Gender identity: Gender-based ‘norms’ and ‘roles’ – the different attitudes, behaviours and mannerisms accepted or expected of men and women.
  • Sexual orientation: Awareness of feelings of intimate and physical attraction towards others.

  • People of the opposite sex (heterosexual), or
  • People of the same sex (homosexual), or
  • People of both sexes (bisexual).

 
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