Open discussions regarding sexual orientation weren’t the norm in past decades.
However, just like anything else, times have changed – and feelings have, too. Millennials just don’t view sexual orientation and gay marriage in the same way that past generations have. Yet, while same-sex marriage, gender identity, and LGBT issues don’t affect them in the same way as older age groups, that doesn’t mean that all of society is changing with them. There is still a gap that needs to be closed when it comes to acceptance.
The Shift in Thinking
The public acceptance of same-sex marriage and LGBT issues didn’t happen overnight. It has been a gradual process which ultimately led to young adults in the millennial group (those born from 1982-2000) being the first to be wholly exposed to this new shift in thinking. For Millennials, it has always been a normal way of life, and being gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, or transgender is believed to be just a part of who the individual is.
For those in the senior age group (65 and older), however, the shift in thinking hasn’t been quite so prominent. Though many in this age group were pioneers of change in the LGBT community, the acceptance has not been so widespread. A 2011 study showed that there was still a 20-point generational difference “on every public policy measure in the survey concerning rights for gay and lesbian people.” This included views of Millennials and seniors regarding their respective approvals of same-sex marriage (69% vs. 31%), adoption of children by gay and lesbian couples (69% vs. 36%), and protections for LGBT individuals against discrimination in the workplace (79% vs. 58%).
A few short years later, yet another study revealed that eight percent of Millennials claimed an identity within the LGBT spectrum, which is more than double the admitted percentage of the Williams Institute’s 2011 general adult population study (3.8%), as well as Gallup’s 2012 general poll (3.4%). Additionally, in 2013, the CDC published a statistic that stated 3.4% of adults identified as gay. With such a gap in the admission of identification, it’s a clear indicator that Millennial’s view being LGBT as a normal part of biology or human nature.
How Has the Generational Gap in Thinking Affected Young Adults?