“Sending Nudes:” LGBTQ+ Youth Trends and Attitudes

- | 1 min read

Behaviors around sharing explicit images are varied by gender, age range, culture, ethnicity, household income, etc. But one of the clearest distinctions that emerges in research is the experience between LGBTQ+ youth and non-LGBTQ+ youth. Last month we looked at some general points from the recent Thorn Report. This month we’ve consolidated a few points on LGBTQ+ youth attitudes and behaviors, with a few notes about the figures:

Self-reported rates of having shared one’s own image:

LGBTQ+ Youth (age 9-17)
2019 to 2020: 21% to 32% (+11)

Non LGBTQ+ Youth (age 9-17)
2019 to 2020: 8% to 13% (+5)

With the exception of girls age 13-17, every demographic of youth sharing their own explicit images increased from 2019 to 2020. The largest increases show in kids aged 9-10, boys across ages, and LGBTQ+ youth.

Rates of youth who agree sharing nudes is normal for their peers:

LGBTQ+ Youth (age 9-17)
2019 to 2020: 39% to 34% (-5)

Non LGBTQ+ Youth (age 9-17)
2019 to 2020: 25% to 27% (+2)

Note: Encouragingly, the rate of LGBTQ+ youth considering “sending nudes” to be normal normal decreased between 2019 and 2020, but remains above that of non-LGBTQ+ youth.

Rates who have engaged in non-consensual resharing of another’s image (“yes” responses only, majority selected “prefer not to say”):

LGBTQ+ Youth (age 9-17)
2019 to 2020: 12% to 5% (-7)

Non LGBTQ+ Youth (age 9-17)
2019 to 2020: 8% to 8% (-)

Note: Here we see another positive trend among LGBTQ+ youth, indicating a decrease in non-consensual resharing.

For some LGBTQ+ youth, the internet and social media provide a place for identity development, exploration, and validation that may not be available in their non-virtual lives. In some cases, these limited options can lend to unsafe environments and behaviors, which may help explain some of the different results.

As researchers continue to collect this information, it will begin to show clearer trends and make us better able to understand what youth are experiencing and how we can better guide their decisions toward online safety.