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More Youth Support Same-Sex Relationships

A study conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) in partnership with Harris Interactive found that respect and value for diversity has increased over the past 20 years among American youth. GSRI also reports that today’s youth generally have good intentions with regard to making healthy, positive choices as tweens, teens and young adults. The large-scale nationwide study involved 3,263 male and female students in grades 3–12 and employed both classroom-based and online data collection techniques. The results from the 2009 study were compared to a similar study conducted by GSRI in 1989 to identify statistically significant shifts in attitudes, beliefs, values and intentions.

With regard to diversity, 59 percent of youth (63% of girls and 55% of boys) in grades 7 through 12 rate being around people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds as important. More youth also support same-sex relationships and almost half of the youth (in grades 7 – 12) surveyed reported that a friendship would continue unchanged if a friend revealed that s/he was 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. Though an increase in support for diversity is encouraging, Professor Janue Victoria Ward suggests that there is still room for improvement. “While it is refreshing to see evidence that nearly 60 percent of youth, particularly girls and racial/ethnic minorities, say that diversity is important to them, findings from this study suggest that there may be more we can do to assist American boys and girls in valuing the rich cultural diversity our nation has to offer.”

The study also found that today’s youth are less likely to cheat on tests, view smoking as acceptable or consume alcohol than those surveyed in 1989. The results also suggest an increase in civic engagement among youth whose intentions to vote have increased from 77 percent in 1989 to 84 percent twenty years later. Participants also demonstrated a stronger interest in giving to charity and volunteering in their communities and a significantly decreased interest in joining the military.

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