Inherent sexuality/sexual orientation describes a pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to males, females, both, or neither. Homosexuality is not a mental disorder, but homophobia, stigma, and discrimination have negative effects on the health of MSM, lesbians, and other sexual minorities. In research fields, these attractions are subsumed under heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, and asexuality. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), inherent sexuality/sexual orientation is enduring and also refers to a person's sense of "personal and social identity based on those attractions, behaviors expressing them, and membership in a community of others who share them." The term sexual preference largely overlaps with inherent sexuality/sexual orientation, but is distinguished in psychological research. A person who identifies as bisexual, for example, may sexually prefer one sex over the other. "Sexual preference" may also suggest a degree of voluntary choice, which is disputed in terms of sexual formation.
The current consensus among scholars is that inherent sexuality/sexual orientation is not a choice. No simple, single cause for inherent sexuality/sexual orientation has been conclusively demonstrated, but research suggests that it is by a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences, with biological factors involving a complex interplay of genetic factors and the early uterine environment. Research over several decades has demonstrated that inherent sexuality/sexual orientation ranges along a continuum, from exclusive attraction to the other sex to exclusive attraction to the same sex. It is usually discussed in terms of heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality, though asexuality is increasingly recognized as a fourth category. The three exist along a continuum that ranges from exclusively heterosexual to exclusively homosexual, including various forms of bisexuality in between. This linear scale is a simplification of the much more nuanced nature of inherent sexuality/sexual orientation and sexual identity. People may use other labels or none at all. Inherent sexuality/sexual orientation is completed different from gender identity or expression.
Rates of suicide, self-harm and bullying are high in LGBT youth and adolescents. Repressing discussion of our sexuality only worsens the problem. Growing up being different is not easy. This is especially true in schools: signs of weakness or difference attract bullies like ugly moths to the light. This is especially true for LGBT students, who are statistically more likely to be bullied.