Sister's sexual orientation unclear

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  August 29, 2012 06:00 AM

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My younger sister (who is 16 now) is questioning her sexuality. She told me that she sometimes gets crushes on girls and that she is afraid of it because she doesn't know what to do.Our parents and our family in general is very unsupportive and we never had a bisexual or gay/lesbian person in our family or friend circle. She said that she didn't sleep with a girl but that she would if she was in love with one. I've tried to tell her that it's okay to feel that way and that she shouldn't worry about anything yet because the feelings might change. But even if they don't, I will still be there for her, supporting her no matter what. My question is - Is it normal for her to feel that way? She said that she likes 60% of boys and 40% girls and it's been like that since she was really young. Does this mean she's bisexual? or bi-curious?
Thank you!


From: Loreen, Nottingham, UK

Dear Loreen,

You sound like a wonderful sister! Since she's had these feelings for so long, they may well reflect her future orientation. [I edited the previous sentence to clarify my meaning, in response to the comment from CMF, below. BFM] Then again, they may not. Forty percent of 14-year-old girls experience a sexual feeling for another girl and that doesn't mean 40 percent of girls become lesbians, psychologist Lynn Ponton writes on daughters.com, . She says a girl's sexual orientation is more likely determined in early childhood. Ponton is author "The Sex Lives of Teenagers: Revealing the Secret World of Adolescent Boys and Girls ")

Everything you said to your sister is right on target. Fingers crossed that your parents can learn to be more supportive, no matter what your sister's orientation ends up.

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3 comments so far...
  1. I agree that this is a wonderful older sister. But, Barbara, what does "they may well be real" mean? Of course her feelings are real! They are part of her experience, whether they indicate a long term sexual orientation or not.

    The older sister is doing all of the right things - expressing her unconditional love and acceptance, and giving the younger sister someone with whom she can speak honestly. Regardless of the younger sister's sexual orientation, or the parents' acceptance, having a supportive, loving family member will allow the younger sister to be whomever she is (and her sexual orientation is just one aspect of who she is!).

    Posted by cmf August 29, 12 09:17 AM
  1. I think it sounds good, except I think that, given the unsupportive family and social circle the girl is in, the older sister should advise her to use discretion in who she chooses to share share this information with for her own safety and well-being. Obviously she should not be ashamed of herself and pretend to be something she is not, but she needs to realize that some people WILL treat her differently, and they could be abusive, cruel, or harassing about it. It's despicable, but since you cannot control others, you must protect yourself first.

    Posted by AP August 29, 12 03:49 PM
  1. You are a great sister! But your sister is bi-sexual. You do not grow into gayness; you are what you are at birth. There have been several major breakthroughs in science recently. Here is one:
    “Sexual orientation is not a matter of choice, it is primarily neurobiological at birth", Dr. Jerome Goldstein, Director of the San Francisco Clinical Research Center (USA) stressed today at the 21st Meeting of the European Neurological Society (ENS) in Lisbon. "There are undeniable links. We want to make them visible to the eye". At the congress he showed how the brains of people of different sexual orientations - gay, straight, bisexual - work in different ways, applying volumetric Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), functional fMRI scanning, and PET scanning.
    "We must continue to bring forward data that show the differences or similarities between the brains of homosexuals, heterosexuals, bisexuals, and trans gender persons. Clearly the basis of sexual orientation is in the brain and differences in brain structure and function and the province of neurology", Dr. Goldstein added. "Neuroscience has much to offer in the area of understanding the origins of all variations of sexual orientation."
    I hope this helps your family. You can find other supportive information in: Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, School of Medicine at McMaster University, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, biomedical journal Human Genetics, and many others.

    Posted by cfb1270 August 30, 12 04:25 AM
 
3 comments so far...
  1. I agree that this is a wonderful older sister. But, Barbara, what does "they may well be real" mean? Of course her feelings are real! They are part of her experience, whether they indicate a long term sexual orientation or not.

    The older sister is doing all of the right things - expressing her unconditional love and acceptance, and giving the younger sister someone with whom she can speak honestly. Regardless of the younger sister's sexual orientation, or the parents' acceptance, having a supportive, loving family member will allow the younger sister to be whomever she is (and her sexual orientation is just one aspect of who she is!).

    Posted by cmf August 29, 12 09:17 AM
  1. I think it sounds good, except I think that, given the unsupportive family and social circle the girl is in, the older sister should advise her to use discretion in who she chooses to share share this information with for her own safety and well-being. Obviously she should not be ashamed of herself and pretend to be something she is not, but she needs to realize that some people WILL treat her differently, and they could be abusive, cruel, or harassing about it. It's despicable, but since you cannot control others, you must protect yourself first.

    Posted by AP August 29, 12 03:49 PM
  1. You are a great sister! But your sister is bi-sexual. You do not grow into gayness; you are what you are at birth. There have been several major breakthroughs in science recently. Here is one:
    “Sexual orientation is not a matter of choice, it is primarily neurobiological at birth", Dr. Jerome Goldstein, Director of the San Francisco Clinical Research Center (USA) stressed today at the 21st Meeting of the European Neurological Society (ENS) in Lisbon. "There are undeniable links. We want to make them visible to the eye". At the congress he showed how the brains of people of different sexual orientations - gay, straight, bisexual - work in different ways, applying volumetric Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), functional fMRI scanning, and PET scanning.
    "We must continue to bring forward data that show the differences or similarities between the brains of homosexuals, heterosexuals, bisexuals, and trans gender persons. Clearly the basis of sexual orientation is in the brain and differences in brain structure and function and the province of neurology", Dr. Goldstein added. "Neuroscience has much to offer in the area of understanding the origins of all variations of sexual orientation."
    I hope this helps your family. You can find other supportive information in: Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, School of Medicine at McMaster University, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, biomedical journal Human Genetics, and many others.

    Posted by cfb1270 August 30, 12 04:25 AM
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About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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