Study: Gay, Bisexual Teens More Likely To Engage In Risky Behavior

Study: Gay, Bisexual Teens More Likely To Engage In Risky Behavior

Gay, lesbian, and bisexual teens are more likely to engage in risky sex, substance abuse, and violence, finds a new Centers for Disease Control study. They are less likely to wear seat belts or eat breakfast, and more likely to attempt suicide.
Dustin Siggins
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The Centers for Disease Control recently released its first national study on the health risks of gay, lesbian, and bisexual (LGB) teenagers’ behaviors. What they found, using more than 15,000 respondents and other data, indicates LGB students face more bullying, participate in far more relationship abuse, and are more likely to use drugs and drink alcohol.

According to the CDC, 2 percent of students identified as gay or lesbian, while 89 percent said they are heterosexual. Six percent defined themselves as bisexual, and 3 percent were not certain.

More than 54 percent of respondents had engaged in sexual contact, with some students having such activities with both sexes. “Nationwide, 48.0% of students had had sexual contact with only the opposite sex, 1.7% had had sexual contact with only the same sex, 4.6% had had sexual contact with both sexes, and 45.7% had had no sexual contact.” More than nine out of 10 students who had no sexual relations identified as heterosexual, with 6 percent saying they are LGB.

Sexual Minorities Are More At-Risk

The study asked students about more than 100 different activities, from drinking milk to suicide attempts. Key findings on dangerous activities include: students who had engaged in bisexual or same-sex sexual relationships were far more likely to drink alcohol, use drugs, smoke cigarettes, and use hard drugs. They were also twice as likely as heterosexual teens to be threatened or injured on school property by a weapon, and more than twice as likely to miss school for “safety concerns.” More than one-third of LGB students said they faced bullying on school property, as well.

But while these facts have received the greatest mainstream media attention, conservative outlets have noted relationship violence among those same-sex-attracted teenagers is far higher than violence among heterosexual teens. About one in six same-sex-attracted teens had been forced into unwanted sexual intercourse, compared to one in 19 heterosexual students.

These and other factors have led to one of the saddest study findings: Enormous rates of depression, attempted suicide, and violence among LGB teens. About 43 percent of LGB teens said they have considered suicide, compared to 15 percent of heterosexual students. Nearly as many LGB teens made a suicide plan, and more than 29 percent actually attempted suicide at least once. Just 6.4 percent of heterosexual students attempted suicide.

See more of the CDC’s study’s results in my longer summary of the study, here.

How to Help These Troubled Kids?

The study’s authors jumped onto mainstream LGBT activists’ bandwagon, saying in their conclusions that “sexual minority students” often “struggle because of the disparities in health-related behaviors documented in this report, particularly violence-related behaviors and alcohol and other drug use, that can be compounded by stigma, discrimination, and homophobia.” Solutions, according to the authors, should include policies promoting “school connectedness and a safe, welcoming, and accepting school environment for all students,” including “gay/straight alliances” and the use of “inclusive words or terms.”

Log Cabin Republicans President Gregory T. Angelo told The Stream that while young Americans generally support the LGBT movement, “A plurality — or even a majority — of support for the LGBT community by young Americans does not mean the next generation is devoid of homophobia or incapable of bullying and violence against their LGBT peers.” Angelo told The Federalist that “We need to look at new approaches to harm reduction in the LGBT community to lower rates of drug use and other unhealthy activities.”

Robert Lopez, an executive board member at the International Children’s Rights Institute who identifies as a chaste bisexual, agreed with Angelo but disagreed about potential solutions.

“Who is the gay pool in the first place?” he asked. “Judging from the data I would suggest that what separates the LGBT from the non-LGBT respondents isn’t actually whether or not they are LGBT, but rather whether or not they are risk-takers, experimenters, or malcontented individuals who have been recruited by the copious outreach programs to attribute all their struggles to sexual orientation.”

Unknown Interplay Between Victimization and Victimhood

A CDC spokesperson told me the agency could not determine whether LGB or heterosexual students initiated the reported bullying. “The survey focuses on students’ behaviors; the survey does not ask students about the source of reported bullying or the other violence measures,” the CDC email response said. “Thus, the survey does not include follow up questions and CDC cannot identify who is initiating the bullying.”

“Additionally, it’s important to point out that while some of the reported dating violence may have occurred with a same-sex partner, some young people who identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual also reported sexual contact with opposite-sex partners. Meaning, the study does not indicate whether the reported dating violence was occurring with a same-sex or opposite-sex partner.”

Citing “other research,” the spokesperson said “risk factors” that may lead to more risk behavior and violence among LGB teens “include social isolation, poor parent-child relationships, previous history of violent victimization and being perceived by others as not masculine or feminine enough. Many of these risk factors in the absence of a supportive environment can place young people at increased risk for violence and drug addiction, as well as other serious negative outcomes such as suicide and depression.”

After examining the study, Catholic University Professor Paul Sullins said in an e-mail that its “main finding is that risky behavior across the board is much more prevalent among LGB youth. They are more likely to engage in risky sex, substance abuse, and violence of all kinds. Less likely to wear seat belts or eat breakfast. More likely to be depressed (feel sad) or attempt suicide.”

“LGB sexual identity or having same-sex partners is positively correlated with almost every risk behavior measured on the survey,” Sullins concluded.

More Corroborating Evidence

This is not the only recent government study on the behaviors of LGB teens. On July 20, the CDC released an examination of how “gay and bisexual teen males” compare to “heterosexual teen males” in sexual practices. The study found that drug use was substantially higher among gay and bisexual males, as was the prevalence of HIV/AIDS.

According to the study, 47 percent of gay and bisexual males had engaged in sexual intercourse, compared to 43 percent of heterosexual males. Just over one-third of gay and bisexual males “were currently sexually active,” compared to 30 percent of heterosexual males. And 15 percent of gay and bisexual males had engaged in intercourse “with four or more partners,” compared to 11 percent of heterosexual males.

One big differential: almost six in 10 heterosexual males used a condom when they last had sex, compared to slightly less than 50 percent of gay and bisexual male teens.

The study concluded, “Despite similar levels of these behaviors, young gay and bisexual males remain at substantially higher risk for HIV infection than heterosexual males, largely because of substantially higher HIV prevalence among their male sexual partners. HIV diagnosis rates are 57 times higher among men who have sex with men (MSM) than among heterosexual men. The higher level of HIV in a sexual network dramatically increases the risk of HIV exposure with every sexual encounter.”

The CDC recommended a variety of strategies to reduce HIV/AIDS among gay and bisexual male teens, none of which were abstaining from sexual activity. This is common with CDC materials about HIV/AIDS prevention, although the CDC does formally recommend abstinence. Earlier this year, a CDC spokesperson told LifeSiteNews that abstinence recommendations would not resonate with people most at risk for HIV/AIDS, saying, “while abstinence is the best way to prevent getting HIV from a sex partner, CDC must address all of the available prevention options to help individuals take control of their health, make informed choices, and reduce their risk for getting and transmitting HIV.”

In comment about the July 20 study, a CDC spokesperson told me, “the estimated per-act probability of acquiring HIV is 3 to 35 times higher (for insertive and receptive partners respectively) for males engaged in unprotected anal sex than for males engaged in unprotected vaginal sex.” Other factors applied, as well.

International Studies Show Similar Results

Higher rates of violence among LGB students is consistent with a 2015 CDC study that found violence in same-sex intimate partner relationships far outweighed that found in heterosexual relationships.

Disproportionate emotional and physical harm characterizes same-sex sexual relationships.

Suicide risk among people in same-sex sexual relationships is not comparatively high just in the United States. A study released in May 2016 examined suicide rates in Sweden, and while it found same-sex “married” women had similar suicide rates as opposite-sex married women, the study’s press release noted that “Among same-sex married men the suicide risk was nearly three-fold greater as compared to different-sex married (IRR 2.895 % CI 1.5–5.5). This holds true also after adjustment for HIV status.”

Concluded the press release, “Even in a country with a comparatively tolerant climate regarding homosexuality such as Sweden, same-sex married individuals evidence a higher risk for suicide than other married individuals.”

Approximately two-thirds of HIV/AIDS-infected persons in America are men who engage in sex with men, although such men are at most 2 percent of the U.S. population. For younger Americans, a graphic released by the CDC based on 2011 data found that more than 90 percent of males aged 13 to 24 who contracted HIV/AIDS did so due to same-sex sexual contact.

The short version is this: Kids can be cruel, and LGB students can be identified and ostracized. But while the CDC tried to spin things in favor of the LGBT activist agenda, its studies show the truth: disproportionate emotional and physical harm characterizes same-sex sexual relationships. Promoting them does a disservice to millions of young Americans.

Dustin Siggins is an associate editor for The Stream, and a public relations consultant. He previously was the PR director and DC correspondent for LIfeSiteNews, the world's largest pro-life and pro-family daily news website. He has been published across the political spectrum, and has appeared on numerous local and national radio and TV programs.

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