The questioning of one's gender, sexual identity, sexual orientation, or all three is a process of exploration by people who may be unsure, still exploring, and concerned about applying a social label to themselves for various reasons. The letter "Q" is sometimes added to the end of the acronym LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender); the "Q" can refer to either queer or questioning. Many LGBT student groups and literature include questioning in their literature; in the case of gay–straight alliance groups they do so in part so students are not compelled to label themselves or choose a sexual identity.
According to the American Psychological Association
"Adolescence can be a period of experimentation, and many youths may question their sexual feelings. Becoming aware of sexual feelings is a normal developmental task of adolescence. Sometimes adolescents have same-sex feelings or experiences that cause confusion about their sexual orientation. This confusion appears to decline over time, with different outcomes for different individuals."
Some youths avoid coming out or even acknowledging their sexual orientation because of social stigma. For some youths, acknowledging their lesbian, gay or bisexual identity can bring an end to confusion. Those who receive support can often live satisfying and healthy lives and move through the usual process of adolescent development; those who face bullying, ostracism or other forms of oppression are more likely to be at risk of experiencing suicidal thoughts, and to engage in high-risk activities, such as unprotected sex and alcohol and drug abuse. Questioning youth are at higher risk for victimization, suicidal thoughts, and drug and alcohol abuse even more so than lesbian, gay and bisexual youth, possibly due to marginalization from straight and LGB peers alike.
A disorder of anxiety or depression related to an uncertainty about one's gender identity or sexual orientation has been classified as sexual maturation disorder by the World Health Organization in the ICD-10, under "Psychological and behavioural disorders associated with sexual development and orientation". Sexual orientation, by itself, is not a disorder and is not classified under this heading. It also differs from ego-dystonic sexual orientation where the sexual orientation or gender identity is repressed or denied.
- ^ Webber, Carlisle K. (2010). Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Teen Literature: A Guide to Reading Interests. Libraries Unltd Inc., ISBN 978-1-59158-506-0
- ^ Bahrampour, Tara (April 4, 2005). Silence Speaks Volumes About Gay Support. Washington Post
- ^ Martin, Hillias J.; Murdock, James R. (2007). Serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning teens: a how-to-do-it manual for librarians. Neal-Schuman Publishers, ISBN 978-1-55570-566-4
- ^ How to Cope With Your Sexual Identity, TeenIssues
- ^ Questioning Sexuality Through the Q's, Irene Monroe, A Globe of Witness
- ^ "Creating Safe Space for GLBTQ Youth: A Toolkit". advocatesforyouth.org. Washington, DC: Advocates for Youth: Girl's Best Friend Foundation and Advocates for Youth. 2005. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
- ^ "Gay-Straight Alliances: Common Legal Questions and Answers", Courtney Joslin, National Center for Lesbian Rights.
- ^ a b c d "Answers to Your Questions: For a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality" (PDF). Washington DC: American Psychological Association. 2008. pp. 3–4. Retrieved 2011-02-01.
- ^ Thomas, Suzy R.; Larrabee, Timothy G. (2002). Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Questioning Youth. In Sandoval, Jonathan (Ed.) Handbook of crisis counseling, intervention, and prevention in the schools, pp. 301 ff. Psychology Press, ISBN 978-0-8058-3616-5
- ^ Hutchison, Elizabeth D. (2010). Dimensions of Human Behavior: The Changing Life Course. SAGE. p. 252.
- ^ F66.0
- ^ ICD-10: See part F66.
- ^ Gender Identity Disorders in Childhood and Adolescence