social work.

timer Asked: Dec 29th, 2018
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What does evidence-based research say about the development of sexual orientation in young and middle adulthood? Though the body of literature addressing sexual orientation, including heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality, is far from complete, the literature continues to grow. Your awareness of this literature helps inform your social work practice as you address the needs of clients with a variety of sexual orientations.

For this Assignment, conduct your own research to identify at least one journal article that addresses sexual orientation. Select an article that you find especially relevant to you in your role as a social worker.

Submit a 2- to 4-page paper that includes the following:

A summary of your findings regarding sexual orientation and its impact on life-span development, including findings from the resources and from the journal article(s) you selected during your research
An explanation of how you might apply your findings to social work practice

No cover sheet or headers

Tutor Answer

School: Cornell University



Sabra L. Katz-Wise, Margaret Rosario, Jerel P. Calzo, Emily A. Scherer, Vishnudas Sarda1, and
S. Bryn Austin (2017). Associations of Timing of Sexual Orientation Developmental
Milestones and Other Sexual Minority Stressors with Internalizing Mental Health
Symptoms Among Sexual Minority Young Adult. Archives of Sexual Behaviour, 46(5):
1441–1452. doi:10.1007/s10508-017-0964
Sexual orientation described as the choice of having gender identity and determining
sexual relations. Sexual orientations broadly classified as heterosexual, bisexual, gay, lesbian and
transgender. Heterosexual is sexual relations with the opposite sex; bisexual is sexual relations
by both some gender and opposite sex. Gay refers to male-male sexual relations while lesbian
sexual orientation refers to female-female sexual relationships. Transgender is a different sexual
orientation where a man changes sex to a female or vice versa. Transgender sexual change is
done surgically on persons who are unhappy with their present gender and want to change to a
preferred gender for medical or personal choice reasons.
Summary of Study
The study is longitudinal research done over many years to test the evolution of sexual
orientation. The investigation started with 1461 respondents' women (1098) and men (363), aged
between 22-30 years. The study began in 2010 following sexual development milestones and
relationship with mental health. The study reported men to experience early sexual experiences
than women. Sexual Orientation study captured several concepts associated with mental health
namely; sexual mobility, bullying, victimization, and stigma. The study identified psychosexual
milestones as part of the sexual orientation theory among minorities and sexual development
stages. The three milestones captured in the study are first, same-gender attraction, secondly, age

at first same-gender sexual experience and thirdly, age at identification of sexual orientation. The
timing of sexual orientation is an essential measure in the study. The study results indicate that
coping mechanism towards victimization; include substances abuse as a means of coping with
emotional stress. Lesbians who experience early sexual orientation tend to abuse drugs as a
means of dealing with the identity crisis. The study recommends the need for supportive
structures for adolescents and young adults to cope with depressive symptoms and mental
The concept of sexual mobility is the individuals' choice in changing sexual orientation
from same-sex to opposite-sex or heterosexual to same-sex orientation. Sexual mobility
associated with increased depressive symptoms. Bullying is another stressor that sexual
orientation choices face.
The social worker needs to be knowledgeable about potential causes of sexual orientation
from peer influence, environmental effects and exposure to alternative orientations. Sexual
orientations that deviate from the expected tend to cause emotional and mental stress leading to
depressive symptoms among young adults. The identity crisis and depressive symptoms
manifested in alcohol and substances abuse as a means of coping with the minority identity
crisis. The social worker needs to develop programs that address the needs of sexual orientation
among young adults to help them deal with abuse, identity crisis, victimization and stigma
associated with sexual choices.
Sexual orientation from the study appears to be a developmental problem that occurs
after neuro-cognitive development. The emotional maturity to cope with stressing situations
comes with age. Young adults learn through experimentation and peer pressure. Sexual
orientation, substances abuse, and delinquency occur naturally at the adolescent stage of

development. The first sexual experience in early adulthood has significant relationships with
mental health depending on whether it was consensual or act of violation that accompanies guilt,
regret, stress, and depressive symptoms.
In social work practice, the information from the study has illuminated a possible
connection between sexual orientation and mental health. I will be able to offer emotional and
professional support to young adults to cope with their sexual orientation choices. Counseling
young adults to help them seek help rather than abuse drugs will be essential in maintaining
mental health among young adults.

HHS Public Access
Author manuscript
Author Manuscript

J Sex Res. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2018 February 01.
Published in final edited form as:
J Sex Res. 2017 February ; 54(2): 172–185. doi:10.1080/00224499.2016.1170757.

Endorsement and Timing of Sexual Orientation Developmental
Milestones Among Sexual Minority Young Adults in the Growing
Up Today Study

Author Manuscript

Sabra L. Katz-Wise,
Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital and Department of
Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Margaret Rosario,
Department of Psychology, City University of New York–City College and Graduate Center
Jerel P. Calzo,
Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital and Department of
Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Emily A. Scherer,
Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA
Vishnudas Sarda, and
Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA

Author Manuscript

S. Bryn Austin
Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital, Department of
Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard
School of Public Health, and Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine,
Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA


Author Manuscript

This research examined endorsement and timing of sexual orientation developmental milestones.
Participants were 1235 females and 398 males from the Growing Up Today Study, ages 22 to 29
years, who endorsed a sexual minority orientation (lesbian/gay, bisexual, mostly heterosexual) or
reported same-gender sexual behavior (heterosexual with same-gender sexual experience). An
online survey measured current sexual orientation and endorsement and timing (age first
experienced) of five sexual orientation developmental milestones: same-gender attractions, othergender attractions, same-gender sexual experience, other-gender sexual experience, and sexual
minority identification. Descriptive analyses and analyses to test for gender and sexual orientation
group differences were conducted. Results indicated that females were more likely than males to
endorse same-gender attraction, other-gender attraction, and other-gender sexual experience, with
the most gender differences in endorsement among mostly heterosexuals and heterosexuals with
same-gender sexual experience. In general, males reached milestones earlier than females, with the

Correspondence should be addressed to Sabra L. Katz-Wise, Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine, Boston Children’s
Hospital, 300 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA 02115.
Emily A. Scherer is now at Department of Community and Family Medicine, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Hanover, NH.

Katz-Wise et al.

Page 2

Author Manuscript

most gender differences in timing among lesbian and gay individuals and heterosexuals with
same-gender sexual experience. Results suggest that the three sexual minority developmental
milestones may best characterize the experiences of lesbians, gay males, and female and male
bisexuals. More research is needed to understand sexual orientation development among mostly
heterosexuals and heterosexuals with same-gender sexual experience.

sexual minority development; sexual orientation; sexual identity development; developmental

Author Manuscript
Author Manuscript

Sexual orientation development among sexual minorities (non-heterosexual individuals) has
received increased attention in recent decades as researchers have investigated the
experiences of sexual minorities beyond psychopathology. Initially, researchers proposed
that sexual orientation developed in a linear fashion for sexual minorities and that all sexual
minorities progressed similarly through specific stages of development, beginning in
adolescence (Cass, 1979; Meyer & Schwitzer, 1999). More recently, researchers have
suggested an alternative developmental trajectories approach that acknowledges the potential
for group-level heterogeneity in sexual orientation development (Floyd & Stein, 2002;
Author et al., 2008; Worthington & Reynolds, 2009). Sexual minority researchers have also
highlighted the importance of considering sexual minorities beyond the heterosexual and
lesbian/gay dichotomy to include bisexuals (e.g., Klein, 1993), mostly heterosexuals (e.g.,
Author et al., 2007; Savin-Williams & Vrangalova, 2013), and completely heterosexuals
with same-gender sexual experience (e.g., Cochran & Mays, 2007). As the majority of
research on sexual orientation developmental milestones has been conducted on lesbian and
gay individuals, little is known about whether these milestones also apply to other sexual
minority subgroups. The current study examined endorsement and timing of sexual
orientation developmental milestones among female and male young adults across a range of
sexual minority orientations.

Author Manuscript

Sexual orientation is conceptualized as multidimensional, primarily comprised of attractions,
sex/gender of sexual partners, and sexual orientation identity (IOM, 2011; Klein, Sepekoff,
& Wolf, 1985; Author et al., 2014). Sexual orientation developmental milestones may
include first experiencing attractions toward a person of the same or another gender and first
engaging in sexual behavior with a person of the same or another gender. The major
developmental milestones for sexual minorities include first experiencing same-gender
attractions and first engaging in sexual behavior with same-gender individuals, as well as
first identifying as a sexual minority. Other related sexual minority developmental
milestones include first questioning sexual orientation (Diamond, 2003; Author et al., 1996),
first disclosing a sexual minority identity to others (D’Augelli, 2006), and first same-gender
relationship (Garnets & Kimmel, 1993). These milestones have often been referred to as
“sexual identity [italics added for emphasis] developmental milestones,” following Erikson’s
(1968) identity development theory. However, we use the term “sexual orientation [italics
added for emphasis] developmental milestones” throughout this paper to avoid the
assumption that developmental milestones refer only to sexual orientation identity, rather

J Sex Res. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2018 February 01.

Katz-Wise et al.

Page 3

Author Manuscript

than encompassing multiple dimensions of sexual orientation (attractions, sex/gender of
sexual partners, and sexual orientation identity).

Author Manuscript

The application of life course theory to sexual orientation development proposes that an
individual understands their sexual desire in the context of a specific cultural model of
human sexuality that then leads to sexual behaviors and the assumption of a sexual
orientation identity (Hammack, 2005). In the United States, individuals develop their sexual
orientation within the context of heteronormativity, in which heterosexuality is perceived as
the default. Although it is important to recognize that heterosexual individuals also undergo
a process of sexual orientation development (Morgan, Steiner & Thompson, 2010; Morgan
& Thompson, 2011; Worthington, Savoy, & Dillon, 2002), the process of sexual minority
development differs in that sexual minority individuals face stigma related to sexual minority
orientation, which may affect the process of forming a minority sexual orientation. It should
be noted that stigma related to sexual minority orientation may be changing over time. A
study that analyzed trends in U.S. opinion polls about same-gender orientation found that
opinions toward sexual minorities have become more positive over time (Hicks & Lee,
2006). For example, in 2001 when data were collected for the current study and participants
were young adults ages 22–29 years, 52% of adults surveyed believed that “homosexuality
should be considered an acceptable alternative lifestyle” compared to 44% in 1996 and 38%
in 1992, when participants in the current study were adolescents. However, 43% of adults
surveyed in 2001 believed homosexuality was unacceptable, suggesting that stigma related
to sexual minority orientation was still quite present.

Author Manuscript

Previous research on sexual orientation development among sexual minorities has
emphasized the timing of sexual minority developmental milestones, demonstrating that
sexual minorities typically reach milestones during adolescence, with some milestones
occurring in early adolescence (e.g., same-gender attractions) and other milestones occurring
in late adolescence (e.g., coming out to other as a sexual minority) (D’Augelli, 2006; Floyd
& Bakeman, 2006; Author, 2014), with similar patterns across generations (Author et al.,
2011). Some research has found differences by race and ethnicity in the timing of sexual
minority development (Dubé & Savin-Williams, 1999; Parks, Hughes, & Matthews, 2004),
but these findings have not been confirmed by other research (Author et al., 2004).

Author Manuscript

Previous research on sexual orientation developmental milestones has also examined the
order in which milestones occur. D’Augelli (2006) found that both female and male sexual
minority youth typically experienced same-gender att...

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Thanks, good work

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