In UK, the average coming out age has dropped by over 20 years

Stonewall just released new findings from an online poll they conducted of over 1,500 individuals, revealing that the average coming out age has dropped significantly:

[A]mong the over-60s the average age they had come out was 37. But those in their 30s had come out at an average age of 21, and in the group aged 18 to 24 it was 17.

The survey, conducted via social networking sites, does not take account of the numbers of people who know they are gay or bisexual but have not come out. But Stonewall said it nonetheless revealed a pattern of people having the confidence to come out earlier.

Among the 33 respondents aged over 60 only five had come out under the age of 18. Several had only done so in the last 10 years.

Ruth Hunt, Stonewall’s deputy director of public affairs, said: “People are coming out younger and younger.

I’d really like to see a study in the U.S. conducted, because while this is certainly a sign of progress in that younger people are feeling more comfortable and confident in coming out, it’s also a reminder that we need to make sure that those youth who do come out (or don’t) should be protected from anti-LGBT bullying. Because as things progress for LGBT folks, those forces working against equality only get more reactive, and potentially dangerous.

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  • nazza

    I’ve even noticed a difference in my own lifetime. I myself came out at 20, and though I knew others who did about the same time, there were some who came out in high school. Now, some LGBT students come out in middle school, in their early teens. That would have been unheard of 10 years before.

  • Eli

    While I don’t doubt their conclusion at all, the stats seem fishy. If you’re studying a group of out LGB 18-to-24-year-olds, of course you’re going to find that their average coming-out age is lower than 37; by definition, no one in that group has reached 37. They may well have peers who aren’t going to come out for another two decades, but those people wouldn’t be included in the study group (or wouldn’t have chosen to participate in the study) because they haven’t come out yet.

    A more statistically rigorous way of proving their conclusion might have been to look at the average age of people who came out in a given decade: like, the average person who came out in the 1960s came out at 37, in the 1980s it was 29, and so on — that way you’re actually looking at the variables Stonewall is interested in, how changing attitudes through time (represented by advancing decades) affect the age when people come out. As it is, the study results seem like a tautology: LGB people who are currently young came out at a young age — well, duh; otherwise they wouldn’t have been part of the study in the first place.