CDC: More Risky Behaviors Seen in Gay, Bisexual Teens

They are more likely than heterosexual students to engage in most health-risk behaviors

MONDAY, June 6 (HealthDay News) -- Gay, lesbian, or bisexual students are more likely to engage in health-risk behaviors than heterosexual students, according to a report published in the June 6 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The CDC reviewed data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System surveys of students in grades nine to 12 conducted during 2001 to 2009 in seven states and six large urban school districts. The surveys included questions on sexual identity (i.e., heterosexual, gay or lesbian, bisexual, or unsure), sex of sexual contacts (i.e., same sex only, opposite sex only, or both sexes), or both of these variables.

Across the nine sites that assessed sexual identity, the prevalence among gay or lesbian students was higher than the prevalence among heterosexual students for a median of 63.8 percent of risk behaviors measured. In addition, the prevalence among bisexual students was higher than the prevalence among heterosexual students for a median of 76 percent of risk behaviors measured. The investigators also found that the prevalence among gay or lesbian students was more likely to be higher than the prevalence among heterosexual students for behaviors in seven of the 10 risk-behavior categories. The prevalence among bisexual students was also more likely to be higher than the prevalence among heterosexual students for behaviors in eight of the 10 risk-behavior categories. These categories included behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries or violence; those related to attempted suicide; tobacco, alcohol, or other drug use; sexual behaviors; and weight management.

"For youth to thrive in their schools and communities, they need to feel socially, emotionally, and physically safe and supported," Laura Kann, Ph.D., chief of the CDC's Surveillance and Evaluation Research Branch, said in a statement. "Schools and communities should take concrete steps to promote healthy environments for all students, such as prohibiting violence and bullying, creating safe spaces where young people can receive support from caring adults, and improving health education and health services to meet the needs of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth."

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