Landmark research marking Asexual Awareness Week (25-31 October) has found that one in ten queer youth in America identify as asexual or on the ace spectrum.
Asexual people are often overlooked within the LGBT+ community, but using data from its 2020 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, The Trevor Project found that in a sample of more than 40,000 LGBT+ youth, 10 per cent identified as asexual or on the ace spectrum.
Being asexual means that an individual does not experience, or experiences very little, sexual attraction to others, or does not desire sexual contact.
Asexuality is a spectrum on which many other identities fall, for example being demisexual or greysexual.
Sexual attraction is just one type of attraction, and some ace people still experience romantic, emotional or physical attraction to others and engage in relationships, dating and non-sexual partnerships.
Myeshia Price-Feeney, PhD, a research scientist at The Trevor Project, said: “Asexual youth are often forgotten in both research and outreach efforts, so we’re hoping to provide much-needed data on this important group of youth.”
Ace youth in the survey often used other words as the main descriptor of their orientation, for example “romantic attraction labels such as panromantic, biromantic, and aromantic”, said Price-Feeney, which suggests “a desire to represent their sexuality in more nuanced ways”.
Asexual young people were also more likely to be trans or non-binary. While overall a quarter of LGBT+ youth surveyed said they were trans or non-binary, and nine percent were questioning whether they were, 41 per cent of ace youth identified as trans or non-binary, and 13 per cent were questioning.
Worryingly, the data also showed that ace youth were more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety compared to LGBT+ youth overall.
Price-Feeney said: “With asexual youth reporting rates of depression and anxiety at rates higher than LGBT+ youth who are not asexual, efforts must be made to include asexual youth in suicide prevention and intervention efforts.”