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‘Oh, and I’m Bisexual’: Sharing Jesus With Those Who Are Different From Us

A friend of mine was just at a family gathering talking with one of his nieces.

“How have you been?”

“Great. Been going to school, working a lot… oh, and I’m bisexual.”

How do you respond to that?

If you’ve been in youth ministry for the last 5 years, this conversation with someone from Generation Z doesn’t even surprise you. If you’ve been in youth ministry 10 years, this conversation also isn’t surprising, but it might be a little more poignant, because 10 years ago this wasn’t the trend. Now, this conversation is commonplace.

Just how commonplace?

At first glance the numbers might seems small. After all a 2017 Gallop poll revealed only 4.1% of Americans identified as LGBTQ, 7.3% of Millennials. But percentages fluctuate depending on who is taking the survey:

  • In 2017 GLAAD (formerly Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) released their third annual “Accelerating Acceptance” report (also showing 2016 numbers) claiming that 20% of Millennial (18-36-year-olds) respondents say they are LGBTQ.
  • Another report within the same year found 35% of Millennials identify as not being “exclusively heterosexual.”
  • The same report revealed 52% of Gen Z (13 to 20-year-olds) identified as not being “exclusively heterosexual” (where Barna shows just 12%).

I’ll let you read those reports and see which you believe, 7%, 20%, or 35% of Millennials? And are only 48% of Gen Z completely 100% heterosexual?

In Vice’s article, “Teens these days are Queer AF,” they attributed social media as the place young people are learning about the large spectrum of gender identities. I wouldn’t argue. Pew’s most recent report about teens, social media and technology reveals 95% of young people have access to a smartphone, 97% are on social media with half of them admitting “they are online almost constantly,” and we have seen its influence on young people in multiple ways. First and foremost, today’s young people have immediate access to the celebs and the musical artists they love right in their pockets. They follow stories and watch viral videos, consistently tuning into the world’s philosophies and thinking (compare that to the time they spend digesting the Word of God).

Not to mention, media is good at pulling our emotional heartstrings. Young people might watch a TED talk where a psychotherapist tells stories of cruel parents kicking their kids identifying as LGBTQ out of the house or discriminatory doctors refusing patients’ treatment solely because of gender identity. While stories like this are really good for helping us empathize with people different than us, and also helping us understand terminology (like the difference between sexual identity and gender identity), these sources are also undeniably changing the way the majority of people think about this issue—like when we hear phrases like, “the sex a doctor assigned us at birth.”