Texas Tech University

Gender SEAMS Research Team

Gender SEAMS Research Projects


A Critical Examination of Sexual Orientation Measurement in a Nationally Representative Data Set

  • John Purcell, Porter Macey, Sara Smock Jordan, and Kristy Soloski

Using The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health dataset we examine how inclusion criteria for sexual orientation measures can influence research findings. We selected four different samples of sexual minority adolescents and conducted a conditional latent growth curve analysis. Sample 1 (S1) included those who self-reported as mostly straight, bisexual, mostly gay, or gay, (N = 2,726). Sample 2 included those from S1 as well as participants who reported same-sex attraction or same-sex romantic behaviors at one or more time-points in the study (N = 4,831). Sample 3 (S3) included those who self-identified as bisexual, mostly gay, or gay (N = 794). Sample 4 included those from S3 who self-identified as LGB, as well as participants who reported same-sex attraction or same-sex romantic behaviors at one or more time-points in the study (N = 3,882). Analysis on each sample yielded drastically different results on select outcome variables, indicating a need for cautious and prudent interpretation of available research on sexual minorities.

Human Development and Family Studies