Study Undercuts View of College as a Place of Same-Sex Experimentation
By TAMAR LEWIN
The popular stereotype of college campuses as a hive of same-sex experimentation for young women may be all wrong.
To the surprise of many researchers and sex experts, the National Survey on Family Growth found that women with bachelor’s degrees were actually less likely to have had a same-sex experience than those who did not finish high school.
“It’s definitely a ‘huh’ situation, because it goes counter to popular perceptions,” said Kaaren Williamsen, director of Carleton College’s gender and sexuality center.
For years, sex researchers, campus women’s centers and the media have viewed college as a place where young women explore their sexuality, test boundaries, and, often, have their first — in some cases, only — lesbian relationship.
That phenomenon gave rise to the term LUG (lesbian until graduation). In 2003, a New York magazine article, “Bi for Now,” suggested that women’s involvement in their college’s gay scene exposed them to a different culture, like junior year abroad in Gay World.
But according to the new study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based on 13,500 responses, almost 10 percent of women ages 22 to 44 with a bachelor’s degree said they had had a same-sex experience, compared with 15 percent of those with no high school diploma. Women with a high school diploma or some college, but no degree, fell in between.
Six percent of college-educated women reported oral sex with a same-sex partner, compared with 13 percent who did not complete high school.
Anjani Chandra was the lead author of the report, based on data from 2006 through 2008.