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Right-Wing Media Calls Growing LGBTQ+ Self-Identification A ‘Social Contagion’


Right-Wing Media Calls Growing LGBTQ+ Self-Identification A ‘Social Contagion’

A new survey published by Brown University’s student newspaper found that 38% of students do not identify as straight — over five times the national rate.

When compared to The Herald’s first surveyed sexual orientation in its Fall 2010 poll, which found that around 14% of respondents answered that they were not straight, that number has more than doubled.

“Brown’s queer community is much greater than the national average among adults,” The Brown Daily Herald reported. “Gallup polls from 2022 found that only 7.2% of adults — and 19.7% of those aged 18 to 25 — identified as LGBTQ+.”

“Since Fall 2010, Brown’s LGBTQ+ population has expanded considerably. The gay or lesbian population has increased by 26% and the percentage of students identifying as bisexual has increased by 232%. Students identifying as other sexual orientations within the LGBTQ+ community have increased by 793%.”

Brown Student Josephine Kovecses told The Herald that the difference between national LGBTQ+ demographics and Brown LGBTQ+ demographics is not a challenging puzzle to solve.

“Queer people haven’t been able to be open in their identifications for that long,” Kovecses said. “So it’s exciting that the numbers are growing and that queer people are able to be open in particular at Brown.”

But that’s not how some on the far right see the new data. Right-wing pundits and media outlets like The Washington Examiner ran with the headline: “Forty percent of Brown University students say they are LGBT, suggesting social contagion“.

“New survey data from Brown University’s student newspaper provides further evidence that the increase in LGBT identification is driven by social pressures,” the article begins, before later asserting that “coming out as not heterosexual is trendy and wins social plaudits. But the notion that social pressure plays a role in LGBT identification is only controversial because the group is a sacred cow. However, the idea that peer pressure plays a role in our behaviors and lifestyles is acknowledged in other less controversial areas. It follows then that if teenagers can pressure each other to partake in some actions, they can encourage them to identify as LGBT as well.”

Journalist and transgender rights activist Erin Reed hit back at the Examiner’s assertions, writing on Twitter: “Maybe, just maybe, a huge number of people fall somewhere other than the default on the gender and sexuality spectrum. (Shocker!) Note: the most common lgbtq identification in the survey is bisexual. When you destigmatize being LGBTQ, more people feel free to be themselves.”

Another commenter hypothesized: “In my experience in international applicants groups, one of the reason people are excited to study abroad and especially in the US is because they get to act how they are and how they feel, including embracing their LGBTQ+ side. Literally not a social contagion.”

Others mocked the Examiner’s article:

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