The college campus has generally been thought of as a milieu for same-sex sexual experimentation, but according to a recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women with bachelor’s degrees are less likely to have same-sex experiences than women who did not finish high school.
“It may be that the commonly held wisdom was wrong, that people just liked to imagine women in college having sex together,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “…It may be that society has changed, and as more people come out publicly, in politics or on television, we are getting a clearer view of the breadth of sexuality.”
The notion that female college-goers are especially likely to participate in same-sex activities is denoted by the sometimes pejorative term LUG, or lesbian until graduation (from college).
Barbara Risman, officer of the Council on Contemporary Families, said that LUG may reflect a class dynamic. High school dropouts may be in a situation where there is a lack of desirable and available male partners.
“I always thought the LUG phenomenon was overblown, in the context of it being erotically titillating for young men,” Risman said.
The last study was conducted in 2002 and showed no positive correlation between education and sexual behavior. However, according to this recent study, published in March 2011 with data collected in 2006 to 2008, evidence shows not a decline in same-sex experiences in academia, but an increase in same-sex encounters among high school dropouts.
Amber Hollibaugh, interim executive director of the New York-based Queers for Economic Justice, pointed out that she herself did not go to college and that “lesbians who aren’t college-educated professionals are pretty much invisible,” according to a report in the Gainesville Times.
The study also shows a surprising gap between the number of males and females reporting to have had a same-sex encounter. Three percent of college-educated women and 5 percent of the least educated women were recorded to have an equal interest in both men and women, whereas only 1 percent of men in the poll had the identical sentiment.
In the same study, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also gathered data about individuals, age 25 to 44. The number of males who had a same-sex encounter increased by 5 percent in the overall poll, but 12 percent of females in the same age group have reported having a same-sex experience.
“The idea that gay people are all white and college-educated is harmful to those who don’t fit into these groups,” said Lisa Diamond, professor of psychology and gender studies.
“…Hopefully the study will bring more visibility to the many gay and bisexual women for whom the LUG stereotype never made much sense.”
DYLAN AARON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.