Last week, the Girl Scouts of the USA released a study on the social, civic and personal beliefs of American teens in 2009 compared to a similar study done by the Girls Scouts in 1989. The research found that respect and value for diversity has increased over the past 20 years among American youth, including their feelings about same-sex relationships.
The large nationwide survey of 3,263 girls and boys from the third through twelfth grades was conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI), and is nearly identical to a study the Girl Scouts of the USA commissioned in 1989 with Harris Interactive (formerly Louis Harris Inc.). Titled Good Intentions: The Beliefs and Values of Teens and Tweens Today, the study found that two decades later, youth are more accepting of gay relationships.
Fifty-nine percent of teenagers (63% of girls and 55% of boys) agree with the statement, “Gay and lesbian relationships are OK, if that is a person’s choice.” Only 31 percent agreed in 1989.
In addition, almost half of the youth (in grades 7 – 12) surveyed reported that a friendship would continue unchanged if a friend revealed they were involved in a same-sex relationship. These numbers vary by gender with 84 percent of girls reporting that they would maintain a friendship with a gay or lesbian friend in comparison to 62 percent of boys.
“There’s clearly a generational change taking place,” said Kimberlee Salmond, senior researcher at GSRI and lead author of the study. “These young people strongly value diversity, acceptance and civic involvement, and almost across the board they’re more committed to these values than were their predecessors 20 years ago.”