Medicine
7 min

Gay teens and risky behaviour

A new study reinforces what most of us already know — that
gay teens have a tough time growing up.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
conducted a lengthy study  — from
2001 to 2009 — that looked at sexual orientation and behaviour in high school
students from grades 9 to 12. In total 156,000 students were interviewed.

Students were asked a plethora of questions about risky
behaviours. The topics ranged from the seemingly innocuous (wearing
seatbelts or bicycle helmets) to harder questions about drug use, eating habits and
body image.

The tougher questions tackled suicide — whether the students
had vaguely thought about suicide or seriously thought about it and if they had
attempted suicide.

Sex, of course, was also discussed.
Researchers quizzed the teens on when they first had sex, how many people they
had had sex with, how often and if they used condoms or any form of birth control.

The bottom line
was that, for most of the questions, gay, lesbian or bisexual teens were more
likely to have engaged in risky behaviour than their heterosexual peers. Gay
teens drank and smoked more, had higher rates of attempted suicide, riskier
sexual behaviour and knew less about HIV/AIDS than their heterosexual
counterparts.

Why?

Well, that’s
one answer the authors could not answer. In the discussion session the authors
state that the “results do not explain why certain health-risk behaviours are
more likely to occur among some subgroups of students defined by sexual
identity or by sex of sexual contacts.”

So what we are left with is a study that backs up what a lot
of us — except, perhaps, the Catholic school boards of Ontario — already know, which is
that gay teens need a lot of support.

But it’s Friday, and I don’t want to end on a low note. So,
since I am writing about teens, the best way to go out is with a song.

The Advocate posted an upbeat piece about Broadway composer
Andrew Lippa and musical-theatre students at Texas State University.

In this YouTube video, the students sing Lippa’s latest piece —
"It Gets Better."

 

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