Sexual Diversity and Adolescent Boys

Adolescence is defined as the transitional stage of physical and psychological human development that generally occurs during the period from puberty to legal adulthood (age of majority). The period of adolescence is most closely associated with the teenage years, though its physical, psychological and cultural expressions may begin earlier and end later. Physical growth, as distinct from puberty (particularly in males), and cognitive development generally seen in adolescence, can also extend into the early twenties. Thus chronological age provides only a rough marker of adolescence. Sexuality diverse is a broad term used to include people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, pansexual or questioning their sexuality.

Sexual orientation has been defined as "an erotic inclination toward people of one or more genders, most often described as sexual or erotic attractions". In terms of sexual identity, adolescence is when most gay/lesbian and transgender adolescents begin to recognize and make sense of their feelings. Many adolescents may choose to come out during this period of their life once an identity has been formed; many others may go through a period of questioning or denial, which can include experimentation with both homosexual and heterosexual experiences. A study of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths under the age of 21 found that having an awareness of one's sexual orientation occurred, on average, around age 10, but the process of coming out to peers and adults occurred around age 16 and 17, respectively.

Gender diverse boys (also known as gender non-conforming, gender creative, or gender variant) express their gender in ways that are not consistent with socially prescribed gender roles or identities. Their preferences for toys, clothing, sports, activities, playmates, hair length and style, and/or accessories are not expected in the culture based on their sex assigned at birth. Gender diverse boys are usually perceived to be feminine boys. In fact, some gender diverse boys may occasionally talk about wanting to be or wishing they were the other gender or saying they are the other gender.

Trans Gender boys typically consistently, persistently, and insistently express a cross-gender identity and feel that their gender is different from their assigned sex. They may begin talking about their gender as soon as they begin to speak and some may express dissatisfaction with their genitals. Transgender boys are more likely to experience gender dysphoria (i.e., discomfort related to their bodies not matching their internal sense of gender) than gender diverse children, although some transgender boys are comfortable with their bodies. Transgender boys may state that they are really the other gender

A 2002 American study found that those aged 15 to 44 reported that the average age of first sexual intercourse was 17.0 for males and 17.3 for females. Many cultures define the transition into adultlike sexuality by specific biological or social milestones in an adolescent's life. For example, menarche (the first menstrual period of a female), or semenarche (the first ejaculation of a male) are frequent sexual defining points for many cultures.

Teenagers who have suffered from abuse are more likely to exhibit depressive symptoms and low self-esteem. They are also more likely to suffer episodic or chronic depression, posttraumatic stress syndrome, and other mental health disorders. These patterns are also more likely to continue into adulthood, often in a series of abusive relationships (The Commonwealth Fund, 1999).

Over the last 10 years we have seen a growing international consensus on the need to more adequately include adolescent boys and young men in reproductive and sexual health initiatives. However, anecdotal reports from settings around the world suggest that existing sexuality education programs frequently are not seen as interesting or relevant to adolescent boys and young men. Most sexuality education programs focus on reproduction and contraception, yet adolescent boys frequently say they want to know about or discuss masturbation, penis size, sexual relations and its various forms, sexual performance, and female sexuality.

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