The largest federal survey of sexual orientation and risk behavior in teens shows gay and bisexual youths are more likely to engage in activities that place their health at risk -- like alcohol use, sex or drug use -- than their heterosexual peers.
The CDC report on results from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (2001-09) included data from large population-based samples of public school students in grades nine through 12; eligible sites were those that asked questions about sexual identity, sex of partner, or both.
The survey results, which vary by site, indicated:
- 20 percent to 48 percent of sexual minority youths said they currently smoked cigarettes, compared with 8 percent to 18 percent of heterosexual students.
- 21 percent to 32 percent of bisexual students reported an attempted suicide in the previous year, compared with 15 percent to 34 percent of gay and lesbian youths, and 4 percent to 10 percent of heterosexual youths.
"Many risk behaviors are related to how people feel about themselves and the environment they're in," noted Laura Kann, of CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health, who presented the findings at the first-ever Department of Education summit for gay, lesbian and bisexual youth in Washington.
The study, "Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health Risk Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9-12 -- Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance, Selected Sites, United States, 2001-2009," was published as an early release in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (2011;60:1-133). To view the document, visit www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss60e0606a1.htm.
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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