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Young people’s sexual orientation
Sexual self-concept is an individual’s evaluation of his or her sexual feelings and actions and developing a sexual self-concept is a key developmental task of adolescence. During adolescence, young people tend to experience their first adult erotic feelings, experiment with sexual behaviours, and develop a strong sense of their own gender identity and sexual orientation.
Many young people go through a stage of being attracted to the same sex but eventually become attracted to the other sex. This is a natural part of growing up just as other young people 'know' that their attraction is to the same sex and will not change. Because developing sexual feelings and attractions happen at a different rate for everybody, it is important to explore one’s sexuality at a rate that he/she feels comfortable with. Although the challenge of coming out about the sexual identity may be frightening, having to mask real feelings can also be very difficult. Many people have positive experiences of disclosing to loved ones that they are gay, lesbian or bisexual.
Young people build up a picture of what homosexuality is from what they see, hear and read as well as from their own experiences, the experiences of people they know and their feelings about themselves. They consider that being homosexual means having sexual feelings and sexual experiences with people of the same sex. They may also think it means being unhappy because they will be disapproved of or rejected by their friends, peers and family. Some of the information they get is inaccurate. It stereotypes lesbian and gay people. So it is unhelpful when young people use it to try to understand themselves and their experiences. It says more about the prejudices of heterosexuality than about homosexuality itself.