Harvard, Statistics, and Sex

In recent years, the Harvard Crimson has conducted an extensive survey of the incoming freshman class (roughly 2,000 individuals per year).

Some things have continued the same. Most use Apple products (75%). Most have never had mental health counseling (79%). Most are heterosexual (82%). Most are virgins (62%) and less than 10% have had more than two sexual partners. Most are the first in their extended family to ever attend Harvard (71%). Most identify as liberal (69%). The vast majority identify with their gender of birth (99.6%). The number of Mormons in any of the incoming classes is less than 1%. 1

Other factors are moving in interesting ways, however.

Whites are close to trading in “majority” status for “plurality” status. The Harvard Class of 2021 is only 52% White versus an estimated 61% non-hispanic whites in the general US population. This is largely due to the increasing representation of Asians (Asian Indians and other Asians), which has hovered around 30% 2 in contrast to the 5.7% of Asians in the general US population. Given that Asians self-report as White to avoid attempts to minimize the over-representation of Asians at elite universities, Whites in the Class of 2021 may already be plurality rather than majority.

The percentage of those reporting other than hetero-normal sexual orientation is increasing (looking at 2017 to 2021). While the combination of “questioning” and “other” has stayed level at  about 4%, those reporting as homosexual have increased from 3.7% to 5.6%, an increase of 50%. 3 Meanwhile, those identifying as bisexual has increased from 2.5% to 7.8%, an increase of over 200%. 4 This correlates with the vast majority (87%) entering Harvard in 2018 who approve of same sex marriage.

It would be fascinating if BYU’s Daily Universe were to conduct a parallel survey.

200 Percent?

Some will point out that the Harvard Class of 2021 was in junior high school when Obergefell v. Hodges was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, along with all the attendant media coverage. Meanwhile the Harvard Class of 2017 had almost completed their junior year in high school and largely fixed on a sexual orientation before President Obama voiced open support for same sex marriage.

A correlation between sexual activity and the popularity of the Obamas can be inferred from information about the sexual activity of students taking a “gap year,” a practice popularized by Malia Obama’s ‘year off’ to remain outside the college environment during her father’s presidency before becoming part of Harvard’s Class of 2020. Incoming Harvard freshmen who took a gap year were significantly more likely to report having lost their virginity at any given age 5 (65% freshman who had taken a gap year were non-virgins versus 36% of freshmen who had not taken a gap year).

The data I initially saw suggested that “sexual minorities” engage in much more sexual activity than the majority who are hetero-normal. However the 2018 data were obviously wrong and the website is not currently showing the charts that allow analysis of which groups appear to exhibit hyper-sexual behavior.

From the young people I have in my life, I have become aware that popular youth culture these days is inclined to promote free sex between adults of any description, as particularly seen in the culture of tumblr. Apparently the tumblr crowd sees strict homosexuals/lesbians as prudes. Activists working towards a future world where Judeo-Christian sexual mores are overturned have obviously been making headway.

A look into the family of such activists (the story of Moira Greyland), however, shows that utopian hopes regarding the benefits of sexual freedom are not always realized in the actual lives of activists. Moira observes that her moderately-famous parents believed that “As sex is integrated as a natural part of every single relationship, the barriers between people will vanish, and the utopia will appear, as ‘straight culture’ goes the way of the dinosaur.” In Moira’s case, both her parents had integrated sex into the parent-child relationship with her by the time she was five.

Now that sexual orientation statistics are being included in surveys regarding teen pregnancy, we can see that multiple school districts are reporting that lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals are disproportionately likely to be involved in teen pregnancy (Minnesota and New York). For girls this appears to be correlated with having sex early and often. For boys this appears to be correlated with being forced to have sex, suggesting that sexual abuse may have preceded alternative sexual identity. Children born to unmarried teens are disproportionately raised in poverty and subjected to abuse.

It is alleged that sexual minorities are somehow less educated about the fact that sex between a male and female can result in pregnancy. I’m not sure why this is supposed to be true or how this is supposed to be remedied. Specifically, I’m not sure it’s a great idea to spend lots of effort instructing young people on all the non-reproductive methods they can use to make their body parts tingle. I’d prefer that young people be taught how to forego instant gratification in pursuit of a larger goal rather than encouraged to achieve instant gratification.

Social Experiments

So-called social science is difficult to conduct, as individual people are motivated by a host of diverse factors. Where physical science allows us to “experiment” with vast populations of atoms to determine causality, humans are simply not sufficiently numerous and simple to admit the same level of statistical rigor.

The most notable socialist social experiment was conducted in Russia circa 1918-1921, as the Bolshevik revolutionaries sought to implement the utopian views published by Karl Marx. The revolutionaries had many who sympathized with their cause, including several involved in the entertainment industry.

The most notable fascist social experiments were conducted by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini in the 1930s and 1940s. The fascists had numerous sympathizers, including the former Prince of Wales and Charles Lindbergh.

There are the social experiments we have ignored, such as Woodrow Wilson’s fascist effort to make America a military super-power capable of dictating global affairs. According to an article at Forbes, Wilson created the breeding ground that led to WWII. Our own Rameumpton suggests Wilson (a Democrat) was the original white supremacist, revitalizing the KKK.

In 2005 “Jane Galt”  6 posted an insightful article now only available on the internet archive. Galt pointed out that changing the rules of society (even if for idealistic reasons) can have unforeseen consequences totally at odds with the avowed aims of the idealists.

Whatever we might think about the rise of the new sexual morality, we must acknowledge that it is still an experiment. The outcome is not known, despite the attempts of proponents to suggest the new morality will necessarily be better. Initial data certainly suggest the new sexuality will be deleterious to society.

Seeking Utopia/Eutopia

Each of us seeks an ideal world. Alas, we do not agree what that ideal world is, much less what means will achieve that ideal of tolerance, peace, and love. Even when we do agree with one another, we are not always wise enough as individuals to refrain from harmful action and inaction.

To date, statistics suggest that children are most likely to experience the best outcomes when raised by their biological parents who are in a legal relationship and remain sexually faithful to one another. Further, it is the subgroup of these children who themselves prioritize education and fidelity who pass the baton of positive outcomes to the next generation.

I’m for the children and those methods proven to be correlated with healthy and prosperous outcomes. I’m not terribly enamored of social experiments which attempt to remake the world to align with the idealist’s imagination. 7 I’m certainly not enamored of attempts to remake the world to satisfy the desires of the prurient. 8

There are activists in our world who would experiment with our lives and our children in pursuit of their imagined utopia. When the powerful align themselves with these experiments, large change can occur quickly, as seen by the explosion of self-declared bisexuals entering Harvard.

I and mine decline to be included in the socio-sexual experiment, while reaching out in love to those we know who have “signed up” for the socio-sexual experiment. As the hymn states, “God will force no man to heaven,” so we cannot make people stop signing up for this new experiment.

Rather, as Joseph Smith advised, “Nothing is so much calculated to lead people to forsake [unwise behavior] as to take them by the hand and watch over them with tenderness. When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what pow’r it has over my mind, while the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind.” 9

Let us love one another as brothers and sisters, exhibiting profound respect for the forces that create human life. Let us learn how to express that love without being coerced into the false belief that love requires abdicating our own judgement and practices. Let us watch with kindness those things we cannot righteously prevent and stand as brothers and sisters to raise up those who, having fallen from their ideal, reach out to us for help.

And when the openly depraved hurt innocents, let us firmly refuse to normalize their depraved actions (c.f., Moira’s story).


  1. Of the Mormons participating in the surveys across all the years, it seems only one reported they weren’t a virgin as an incoming freshman.
  2. 2021 class statistics don’t report any South Asian/Indian students, where prior years reported ~4% of the incoming student body from India.
  3. Most self-reporting as homosexual are male.
  4. Most self-reporting as bi-sexual are female.
  5. 10th grade is an outlier in a couple of years where “typical” students were more likely than gap year students to have lost their virginity.
  6. Jane Galt is a pseudonym.
  7. My thoughts on early Mormon social experiments are expressed in my book Reluctant Polygamist and the various blog posts I’ve written.
  8. As a refresher, it is my thesis that widespread “polygamy” in Mormon circles circa 1841-1842 was caused by John Bennett’s selfish attempt to guarantee himself easy sex. The actions Joseph Smith and others took after fall 1841 were distorted by the need to respond to the damage caused by Bennett.
  9. Relief Society Minutes, Jun 9, 1842, Relief Society Minute Book, p. 62, online 9/7/2017 at http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/nauvoo-relief-society-minute-book/59.
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About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) for decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation. Meg is the author of Reluctant Polygamist, laying out the possibility that Joseph taught the acceptability of plural marriage but may have privately defied the commandment for love of his wife, Emma.

10 thoughts on “Harvard, Statistics, and Sex

  1. In trying to determine relevant statistics for peers of Harvard’s Class of 2021, I discovered that people vary widely regarding what acts they think must be avoided to claim virginal status. Some consider virginity lost only when physical interaction had a reasonable chance of impregnating the female involved.

    Whatever people were thinking when they answered the surveys, some surveys suggest that only 15% of people in the general population consider themselves virgins by the time they become legal adults at age 21.

  2. Regarding footnotes 3 and 4. If most of those reporting as homosexual are male, then the rate of homosexuality, counting just males, has to be larger than the 5.6% overall rate. Ditto for females and the 7.8% rate of bisexuality.

    The overall “non-heterosexual” rate went from 10.1% to 17.6%, an increase of 74%.

    The trend is more significant, ominous even, than the raw numbers. This.does.not.bode.well.

  3. I’m getting very tired of the widespread abuse of statistics in the world today– not that I’m necessarily accusing you of it. But, statistics are quoted, misquoted, and very widely misunderstood for all sorts of things these days whether it be political “talking points” or advertisements. I’m beginning to wonder if many (or even most) people’s use and understanding of statistics is any more meaningful than astrology.

    I do agree that sexual morality seems to have reached horrifying new depths of depravity in PC culture, but there continues to be hope for the future through the gospel of Jesus Christ as was foreseen long ago by both ancient and modern prophets. Hope for individuals and families and maybe even societies.

  4. Hi Tom,

    As I’m a physicist and engineer with formal training in statistics, I am glad that you don’t accuse me of “abuse of statistics.”

    The Harvard survey is necessarily self-reporting. Someone clicking a box to present their anonymous self is obviously less rigorous than an objective measurement. However at the least these data are indications of how likely an individual in the studied population is to represent themself as holding a position or proclaiming an orientation.

    I would also suggest that my extensive use of numbers in this post prevented it from becoming a flame fest. Those who are comfortable with numbers tend to be less comfortable with prose and vice versa. Therefore those who would normally flame one and all over this post were prevented from ever getting to the 200% statistic because I inserted a paragraph of other numbers. They are numbers I care about, so I didn’t format this post intentionally to turn off critics. But I chalk up the utter lack of discussion on this post to the numbers-heavy presentation of the data.

  5. “Given that Asians self-report as White to avoid attempts to minimize the over-representation of Asians at elite universities, Whites in the Class of 2021 may already be plurality rather than majority.”

    I dont understand the significance of this. Is this paragraph saying that “whites” mean something other than skin color?

  6. I loved the post linked above by “Jane Galt.”

    I tend to be a spare commenter because I have less interest now in purely philosophical/religious discussions for only the sake of discussion. If I took the time to cultivate friendships here, I might be so inclined; but really, I am more interested in helping specific individuals with faith and life challenges, or helping them to gain perspective to face their faith and life challenges. Responding intelligently to the kinds of things presented here often does seem to require scholarly language, research, and perspective. And so guys like me, though no dunce, still may not wish to invest the time to get our responses up to the level of the conversation.

    Anyway, I hope the lack of response doesn’t keep you from doing what you do Meg!

  7. Hi Joel,

    Thanks for the “I read and like but just didn’t feel the need to comment” comment. Over the decades I’ve developed a style which tends to avoid flames, but it also tends to avoid “Wow, cool…” comments as well.

  8. Hi Lucas,

    It’s relatively well known in high-achieving circles that there are disproportionate numbers of Asians competing at the top level. If your last name signals your Asian status, it’s a bit hard to pass as White for the purpose of avoiding the reverse discrimination Asians tend to face getting into elite schools. But if your Asian heritage comes through your mother and your father has a “White” name, you can self-report as White even though you behave like an Asian (>4.0 GPA, super-driven) and look like an Asian.

    Or you could be my kid, such that your “Asian” heritage is well less than 50% and sport European features with just a hint of the round-faced features that will betray your Asian heritage to elderly Chinese women. In the old paradigm where as much as 1/8 non-White heritage had to be declared, my grandkids would have to claim themselves as Asians. But our culture is no longer hung up on identifying the “impurities” in the dominant racial profile, while the culture was that hung up in the 1970s.

  9. Hi Meg,

    Thank you for the explanation. I never realized how “white” could mean something other than skin color at universities, but also country of origin. From where I come from, being “white” is mainly a matter of self-identification. If your skin appears white, you are white, regardless of the country you were born in. If you are mixed, you get to pick your favorite. Being “indian native”, asian, japanese, african amdrican etc is not a factor in determining whiteness or blackness.

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