Sociologists are shaking their heads at a recent study that shatters the myth that college women are more apt to dabble in same-sex experiences than their less-educated counterparts.
For years, terms like "lesbian until graduation," were used to describe a promiscuous college culture where enlightened and emboldened women experimented in bisexuality.
Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that women with bachelor's degrees are less likely to have a same-sex experience than those who did not finish high school.
The study was based on data from the 2006-08 National Survey of Family Growth, which attempted to measure sexual behavior, sexual attraction and sexual identity among males and females aged 15 to 44.
Of the 13,500 responses, 10 percent of women aged 22 to 44 with a bachelor's degree said they had had a same sex experience, compared with 15 percent of those with no high school diploma.
Women who had completed high school, or had some college, were somewhere in the middle.
Six percent of college-educated women reported oral sex with a same-sex partner, compared with 13 percent who did not complete high school.
"I can't say I expected it -- one of those, 'Oh, that's interesting,' and after a five-second pause, it's not that unreasonable at all kind of reaction," said Stephanie Coontz, co-chair and director of public education at the Council on Contemporary Families at the University of Illinois.
"Women who have college educations are much more open about it, and that's why we had the impression they were the ones who had done it," said Coontz, author of, "A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s."
"They are much more willing to joke about it, even when they haven't done it," she said. "When you actually look at same-sex families, many are working-class and impoverished, raising kids."
According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, more same-sex couples are raising children in economically poorer states like Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas than in places like California and Massachusetts.
These families defy the stereotype that mainstream gay America is white, affluent, urban and living in the Northeast or on the West Coast. They are much more socio-economically diverse, according to U.S. Census data.
"A lot of these women were heterosexual and had kids in those marriages and have moved on to lesbian relationships," said Coontz. "High school dropouts live in communities where there are real shortages of good male partners. It's not surprising to me that these women are experimenting to find out if female partners would be more reliable."
The CDC report, which was released earlier this month, also showed that the gender gap in same-sex relationships was wide. Twice as many women as men reported same-sex behavior.
Three percent of the women -- and 5 percent of the least-educated women -- said they were attracted equally to men and women, compared with one percent of the men.
Even though 13 percent of all the women surveyed said they had experienced sex with another woman, the vast majority did not identify themselves as gay or bisexual.
A similar survey in 2002 showed no patterns of educational difference in women's behavior.