Research Findings: Everyone Is Having Sex, Nobody Talks About It

Throughout the research period, I will post research findings in an academic format to show off my fancy knowledge. This Research Findings report details the one standing truth in life that everyone everywhere is having sex, and that’s reason enough for us to talk to them about it.

Statistics on same-sex sexual activity are difficult to find: my search for “lesbian sex statistics” returned no data. But numbers that are available about sexual activity point mostly to its extreme popularity.

According to the Guttmacher Institute’s 2012 “Facts of American Teens’ Sexual and Reproductive Health” fact sheet, seven out of 10 teenagers have engaged in sex by the time they turn 19, and most young people have sex for the first time at 17 (1). Similarly, 95 percent of Americans engage in premarital sex (Denvir).

And just for the sake of queering it up, let’s be clear: young people engage in same-sex activity, especially young women. According to McCabe, Brewster, and Tillman’s findings in “Patterns and Correlates of Same-Sex Sexual Activity Among U.S. Teenagers and Young Adults,” eleven percent of females between 15 and 21 reported same-sex sexual activity. The authors found that these respondents identified as straight, lesbian, or bisexual, and that not all acknowledged a link between same-sex sexual activity and same-sex attraction (144).

This points not only to a need for sex education, but also to a need for real and comprehensive sex education that embraces the choice to engage in sexual activity with whoever one chooses:

“We need to understand and respect that many young people are thinking about or are already having sex.

“We must acknowledge their evolving capacity and give them the tools, knowledge, and power they need to make decisions and develop their full potential, free of violence and coercion.

“Young people have particular needs for information and sexuality education, and for comprehensive youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services” (“Let Us Respect That Many Young People Are Already Having Sex”).

The potential for sex education programs to impact the lives of young people is truly amazing – comprehensive sex education can lead to decision-making skills, most better communication skills, high self-confidence, clarity when navigating gender roles, and healthier relationships (“Let Us Respect That Many Young People Are Already Having Sex”). I will discuss the failings of sex education later on, but it’s clear that in a landscape where teenagers and young adults are indulging in consensual sexual activity, information about it is important to keep them safe, happy, healthy, and sane.

Images without credits are always found innocently via Tumblr. Please let me know if any are yours!


Denvir, Daniel. “America’s Problem with Sex Education.” The Guardian. 2 November 2011.

“Facts of American Teens’ Sexual and Reproductive Health.” Guttmacher Institute. Fact Sheet. February 2012.

Let Us Respect That Many Young People Are Already Having Sex.” International Planned Parenthood Federation. 2012.

McCabe, Janice, Karin L. Brewster, and Kathryn Harker Tillman. “Patterns and Correlates of Same-Sex Sexual Activity Among U.S. Teenagers and Young Adults.” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. 43-3. September 2011.

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