'Lesbian' is the word used to describe a girl or woman who is romantically and sexually attracted to other girls or women.
How do you know if you're a lesbian?
Some people know from a young age that they are lesbian. Others are not sure until they get older and start thinking about relationships.
Some girls also realise that they prefer girls although they have previously had relationships with boys.
Being attracted to someone of the same sex (being gay or homosexual) is completely normal and not at all unusual.
Many people experience crushes or very close friendships with someone of the same sex as they are growing up. For lots of girls this does mean that they are lesbian, and they go on to have relationships with other girls.
For others, their feelings may change and they will find that they are more attracted to the opposite sex (being straight, or heterosexual) or even both sexes (being bisexual or 'bi').
Stereotypes about gay women
There are lots of stereotypes out there about being lesbian but it is important to realise that you don't have to change because of your sexual preference. After all, you are still you, whoever you are attracted to.
The problem with stereotypes is that they can make you feel that just because you are a lesbian you have to look, dress or act in a certain way because other people expect you to.
Lesbians are often stereotyped as being like tomboys, or quite masculine (manly) and not like straight women. There are just as many different types of lesbian as there are straight women – from feminine to tomboys and everything in between.
The truth is that all women are different - no two women are interested in exactly the same things, whether they are bi, lesbian or straight!
The most important thing is to be comfortable being yourself.
Prejudice and homophobia
Unfortunately people who are gay or lesbian do sometimes experience prejudice from others because these people think it is not normal to be lesbian. This is called homophobia, and it is important to know that people who think this way are wrong.
More importantly, our society has systems in place to stop this sort of discrimination.
Being lesbian is completely normal and you have the right to be who you are and have relationships without feeling that you have to keep it a secret.
Meeting other people
Some people find joining a lesbian club or society really helpful, especially when they do not know many other lesbians - it can give them the opportunity to meet like-minded people.
Growing up as a lesbian woman is not always easy and it can be very helpful to meet other people who understand any worries or difficulties you may be having.
Of course that does not mean that you can only have lesbian, gay or bi friends, or that your straight friends won’t understand you.
Groups for young women are run by qualified youth workers. These workers are happy to talk to parents too.
Help and support
If you want help and support about coming out, being lesbian, or anything around your sexuality, check out some of the organisations below.
If you want to talk to someone, in confidence, about your sexuality, you can call THT Direct on 0808 802 1221.
Check out our listing of LGBT youth groups around the country ››
Some popular organisations and support networks for LGBT youth are:
FFLAG – Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
PACE – promoting lesbain, gay, bisexual and transgender health and wellbeing
The Gay Youth Corner
Gingerbeer – The Lesbian Guide around the UK
The Lesbian & Gay Foundation – Ending Homophobia, Empowering People
Queer Youth Network
Stonewall – advice and support for LGBT equality