Models of Sexual Identity Development & Today’sYouth Cornell F. Woodson NASPA Region I Conference 2012 Mystic, CT
Outline for Discussion• Review of Sexual Identity Models • Fassinger, Cass, and D’Augelli• Critique of Models• New Generation• Suggestions Expanding on Current Models
Fassinger’s Model of Gay/Lesbian Identity Formation (1997)Phase I – Awareness (I) – Feeling different or being different (G) – Existence of different sexual orientation in peoplePhase II – Exploration (I) – Strong erotic feelings for same-sex (G) – One’s position on gay people as a group
Fassinger Model of Gay/Lesbian Identity FormationPhase III – Deepening/Commitment (I) – Labeling sexual identity (G) – Awareness of oppression of groupPhase IV – Internalization/Synthesis (I) – Secure/confident in love for same sex (G) – Secure/reliant on group membership
• Outlines two separate processes. Individual/Internal process Group Membership process• Branches are assumed to be catalytic Each produces movement in the other• Does not emphasize public disclosure It’s about self-disclosure• Considers cultural factors Ethnicity, religion, etc.
Cass’ Model of Sexual Orientation Identity Formation (1979)Stage 1: Confusion – Am I gay?Stage 2: Comparison – Accepts possibility, grieves for losses.Stage 3: Tolerance – Not the only one; seeks out other gay and lesbian people.
Cass’ Model of Sexual Orientation Identity Formation (1979)Stage 4: Acceptance – Begins to self-identifyStage 5: Pride – Goes publicStage 6: Synthesis – Sexual identity becomes a “piece” of self.
• Explains ALL students thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (Cass, 1979).• Represents a sequential process.• Emphasizes public disclosure.• Emphasizes aquisition of homosexual identity into concept of self.
D’Augelli’s Model of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Identity Development (1994) Process I – Exiting a homosexual identity • Self-disclosure • Public disclosure Process II – Develop a personal sexual identity status • Challenge of internalized myths about what it means to be GLB in conjunction with others. • Ability to summarize thoughts, feelings, and desires.
D’Augelli’s Model of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Identity Development (1994) Process III – Developing a GLB social identity • Creating a supportive network of people Process IV – Becoming a GLB offspring • Coming out to parents
D’Augelli’s Model of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Identity Development (1994) Process V – Developing a GLB intimacy status • Enter into a same-sex relationship Process VI – Entering a GLB community • Engaged in social and political action
• Indicates various times that people come out to others.• Reflects the importance of coming out to parents.• Discusses the influence people have on their own development.• Human plasticity: response to biological changes and environmental circumstances • Development is life long process
Critique of Coming Out Models1. Studies included small sample sizes (Bilodeau & Renn, 2005).1. Most of the models were developed based on the experiences of white gay men and generalized to include everyone else (Bilodeau & Renn, 2005; Fassinger, 1998; Golden, 1996).1. Most coming out models propose an orderly or linear series of stages (Cohen & Savin-Williams, 1996; Fassinger, 1998).
Critique of Coming Out Models4. There is an assumption that a person’s sexual orientation and sexual behavior will match and neglect that sexuality exists on a continuum (Kinsey, Pomeroy & Martin, 1948; Golden, 1996).5. Models do not include bisexuality as a stopping point. It is seen as a path to an ultimate goal of acquiring a gay or lesbian identity (Pope & Reynolds, 1991; Rust, 2000; Dolan, 2012)6. The models mark the end of one’s process as LABELING themselves as gay or lesbian (D’Augelli, 1994).
Critique of Coming-Out Models7. The use of language, such as: lack of awareness of same-sex attractions, exiting heterosexuality, and identity confusion (Cass, 1979; D’Augelli, 1994; Fassinger, 1998).8. Models, aside from Fassinger’s, do not include cultural influences on the development of racial/ethnic groups (Fassinger, 1998; Savin-Williams, 2005 ).9. Models do not represent the differences in the coming-out process between genders (Saghir & Robins, 1973; Bell et al., 1981; Chapman & Brannock, 1987; Cohen & Savin-Willams, 1996) .
New Generation of Students1. Being labeled or acquiring an LGBTQ identity matters very little, because there isn’t a link between their sexual identity and their sexual behavior (Savin-William, 2005).2. Consider sexual terms as something the adults do; this generation does not relate.(Unks, 1995; Savin-Williams, 2005).3. “Teenagers are redefining, reinterpreting, and renegotiating their sexuality and the terms used to describe it” (Savin-Williams, 2005, p. 1).
New Generation of Students4. Age in which this generation recognized their same-sex attraction was, on average, early childhood (Savin-Williams, 2005; Anderson, 1995).5. Average coming out age is 11-14, which is 5-6 years earlier than the older generation (Boxer, Cook & Herdt, 1989; Offer & Boxer, 1991; Anderson, 1995; Beemyn & Rankin, 2011b).6. Impacted by the intersectionality of their identities (Winter, 2004; Stevens, 2004).
Expanding on the Models1. Conduct new research that includes a more diverse population.2. Conduct new research that addresses the experience of people with intersecting identities.3. Develop new models that are not linear and allows for repetition; similarly to D’Augelli’s notion that sexual identity development is a life-long process.
Expanding on the Models4. Create new models that include bisexuality as a stopping point.5. Create models that include other forms of sexual orientation, such as pansexual.6. Create models that respect the fact that some people do not label themselves LGB or do not use labels at all.
Conclusion• As the new generation of student affairs professionals, it is our duty to develop new resources.• I recognize that some students do identify with the labels we currently use.• Our models should reflect the world we are trying to establish.
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