Gay or straight? That’s old hat for teens, according to new J. Walter Thompson Innovation Group research

Only 48% of Generation Z (13-20) identifies as exclusively heterosexual, according to new nationally representative survey, which also finds that 56% of Gen Zs know someone who goes by gender-neutral pronouns.

The new survey, from Innovation Group, the futurism and trend forecasting consultancy of J. Walter Thompson Intelligence, shows Generation Z’s attitudes toward gender and sexuality, covering topics from personal identity to product choice.

The Innovation Group presented the findings this week in Austin at South by Southwest Interactive in a panel titled Generation Z and Gender: Beyond Binaries? Data highlights include:

·      38% of Gen Zs (13-20) strongly agree that gender doesn’t define a person as much as it used to, compared to 23% of older Millennials (28-34).

·      56% of Gen Zs say they know someone who uses non-binary gender pronouns (they/them, ze, etc) instead of traditional gender pronouns (he/him, she/her), compared to 43% of older Millennials.

·      70% of Gen Zs say it’s important for public spaces to provide access to gender neutral bathrooms, compared to 56% of older Millennials.

·      Fewer Gen Zs say they always buy products geared specifically toward their gender. 39% say they always buy shoes for their gender, compared to 57% of Millennials.

·      39% of Gen Zs always buy fragrance for their gender, compared to 49% of Millennials.

·      44% of Gen Zs always buy clothes for their gender, compared to 54% of Millennials.

·      42% of Gen Zs always buy deodorant for their gender, compared to 52% of Millennials.

·      On a scale of 0-6, where 0 is completely heterosexual and 6 is completely homosexual, 48% of Gen Zs (16-20) choose 0, compared to 64% of older Millennials (28-34). More than a third (35%) of Gen Zs choose a number between 1 and 5, meaning they are bisexual to some degree, compared to 24% of older Millennials.

The survey indicates a sea-change in the way traditional gender roles have been assigned. “It’s true that Millennials are progressive on gender issues—they changed the national conversation on gay marriage, for example,” says Shepherd Laughlin, director of trend forecasting at the Innovation Group. “But Gen Z goes further, showing a much more nuanced and non-binary view of gender which has wide-ranging implications both for their personal identity and the products they buy.