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Teen Health

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Survey: Increased Health Risks for Gay Teens

CDC Study Shows Gay High School Students Are More Likely to Smoke and Use Drugs

Health Risks for Gay Teens continued...

Gay or lesbian students had higher rates than heterosexual teens for seven of the 10 risk categories, including behaviors related to attempted suicide, tobacco use, alcohol use, other drug use, sexual behaviors, violence, and weight management.

Bisexual students also had higher prevalence rates for health risks. These youths had prevalence rates for 57% to 86% of all health risks measured, including activities that contribute to violence and attempted suicide, tobacco use, alcohol use, other drug use, sexual behaviors, and weight management, unintentional injuries.

Promoting Healthy Environments for All

"For youth to thrive in their schools and communities, they need to feel socially, emotionally and physically safe and supported," says Laura Kann, also of CDC and author of the report. "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."

National, state and local surveys are conducted every two years among high school students in the U.S. to monitor risks to health and behaviors like smoking, drinking, and violence. The surveys also monitor obesity and asthma.

Other key findings of the study, reported in the June 6 edition of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report:

  • 90.3% to 93.6% of youths identified themselves as heterosexual, compared to 1% to 2.6% gay or lesbian. Bisexual youths made up between 2.9% and 5.2% of the study population.
  • 1.3% to 4.7% of youths were not sure of their sexual identity.
  • 37.2% to 60.9% of the students reported sexual contact only with the opposite sex.
  • 30.4% to 59.3% of youths said they had had no sexual contact.


Behaviors Harmful to Health

The report also says the prevalence of heterosexual teens having rarely or never worn a seatbelt  ranged from 7.1 % to 23.2%, compared to about 13.1% to 35.8%% among gay and lesbian students and 11.3 to 28.8%% among bisexual youths. The numbers varied slightly depending on states and regions.

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