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Sexual orientation

Two hands clasping.

Sexual orientation means the kind of person you are romantically and physically drawn to. Keep reading to learn more about the following topics:

What are some types of sexual orientation?

You may have heard a few different terms describing sexual orientation. Here's some basic info that can help.

Heterosexual: People who are heterosexual are attracted to members of the "opposite" sex. Heterosexual guys are attracted to girls, and heterosexual girls are attracted to guys. Heterosexuals are sometimes called straight.

Homosexual: People who are homosexual are attracted to people of the same sex. Girls who are attracted to other girls are often called lesbians. Homosexuals also sometimes are called gay.

Curious about "queer"?

"Queer" means a person is something other than heterosexual. At one time, some straight people used the word as an insult. Now, some non-straight people use it with pride. Not sure how someone feels about it? Ask.

Bisexual: People who are bisexual are romantically and physically attracted to both guys and girls.

What about "transgender"? Transgender isn't a sexual orientation. It has to do with gender — whether you are male or female. People who are transgender say that the gender of their body does not match who they feel they are as a person. In other words, a person may feel like a male who was born into a female body. Some transgender people have surgery to change their bodies to fit who they feel they are.

Could I be gay?

If you're having romantic or sexual feelings toward other girls, you may wonder if you are gay. It's normal to have these feelings, and it's natural to wonder what they mean. It just may take time to figure out whether you are mostly attracted to guys, girls, or both.  

Keep in mind that scientists say that people do not choose their sexual orientation. They say it's just a part of who a person is.

If you are concerned about your sexual orientation, talk to someone you trust. Also, you can get help if you're feeling stressed about telling others you're gay or if you're being bullied. If you feel like you are going to hurt yourself, reach out right away to an adult, like your parents. If you are having trouble talking with your parents, try a trusted adult like a teacher or school counselor. You also can visit The Trevor Project by chat, text, or phone (866-488-7386). And please don't turn to drugs or alcohol to cope — they will only make life harder. Remember, things can get better!

What are some lesbian health issues?

Adult lesbians may be more likely to have certain health problems than straight women. These include obesity, smoking, drinking too much, and emotional distress. You can start now to take steps to stay healthy and strong. Build great habits like eating right and staying active. You also can work with a doctor to learn more about lesbian health.

Some people think that lesbians don't have to see a gynecologist. They do! Some people also think that if you have sex with a girl, you can't get a STD, or sexually transmitted disease (also known as an STI). You definitely can.

Are you wondering about having children? Lots of lesbian women are able to become moms and raise healthy, happy children.

What are signs of healthy same-sex relationships?

The signs of healthy dating relationships are the same in a straight or a same-sex relationship. Basically, you are liked and respected for who you truly are. You can get more info on healthy same-sex relationships and how to get help if your relationship is unhealthy.

What if I have a gay or transgender parent?

The number of nontraditional families, like families with two dads or two moms, is growing in the United States. Sometimes, these families are easily welcomed in their communities, but sometimes kids from these families may be bullied. Talk to an adult you trust if you need help.

Keep in mind that experts say that children of gay or lesbian parents are not more likely to have emotional problems or bad relationships than other kids. Also, kids who have a gay parent are not more likely to be gay than kids with straight parents.


Content last reviewed September 16, 2015
Page last updated November 03, 2015