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Estimating Population Size and Demographic Characteristics of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth in Middle School

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Purpose: To estimate the size and demographic characteristics of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth populations using data from the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) administered in San Francisco Unified School District middle schools. Methods: The YRBS was administered to a stratified random sample of 2,730 youth (grades 6-8) across all 22 public middle schools in San Francisco. Cross-tabulations using complex samples analyses were used to derive population estimates and confidence intervals. Results and conclusions: Results show that 3.8% of middle school students identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, and 1.3% of middle school students identify as transgender. To improve our understanding of the size of these populations across the nation, researchers conclude it is imperative that all YRBS administration sites include items on sexual orientation and gender identity as they would any other demographic item, such as race/ethnicity, sex, or age. The current lack of reliable data on the size and characteristics of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth population limits the capacity of policy makers, administrators, and practitioners to address their needs.
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Adolescent health brief
Estimating Population Size and Demographic Characteristics of Lesbian, Gay,
Bisexual, and Transgender Youth in Middle School
John P. Shields, Ph.D., M.S.W.
a,
*, Rebekah Cohen, M.A.
a
, Jill R. Glassman, Ph.D., M.S.W.
a
,
Kelly Whitaker, M.P.A.
a
, Heather Franks, M.A.
a
, and Ilsa Bertolini, M.A.
b
a
Education, Training and Research Associates, Research Department, San Francisco, California
b
Student, Family, and Community Support Department (School Health Programs), San Francisco Unified School District, San Francisco, California
Article history: Received March 19, 2012; Accepted June 17, 2012
Keywords: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth (LGBT); Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS); Middle school; Early
adolescence
ABSTRACT
Purpose: To estimate the size and demographic characteristics of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and
transgender youth populations using data from the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS)
administered in San Francisco Unified School District middle schools.
Methods: The YRBS was administered to a stratified random sample of 2,730 youth (grades 68)
across all 22 public middle schools in San Francisco. Cross-tabulations using complex samples
analyses were used to derive population estimates and confidence intervals.
Results and conclusions: Results show that 3.8% of middle school students identify as lesbian, gay,
or bisexual, and 1.3% of middle school students identify as transgender. To improve our understand-
ing of the size of these populations across the nation, researchers conclude it is imperative that all
YRBS administration sites include items on sexual orientation and gender identity as they would
any other demographic item, such as race/ethnicity, sex, or age. The current lack of reliable data on
the size and characteristics of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth population limits
the capacity of policy makers, administrators, and practitioners to address their needs.
2013 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. All rights reserved.
IMPLICATIONS AND
CONTRIBUTION
It is imperative that all YRBS
administration sites include
items on sexual orientation
and gender identity as they
would any other demo-
graphic item. Lack of reli-
able data on the size and
characteristics of the LGBT
youth population limits the
capacity of policy makers,
administrators, and practi-
tioners to address their
needs.
Estimating the size of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgen-
der (LGBT) youth population is a challenging endeavor [1]. Chil-
dren’s transitions into adolescence include an ongoing process of
developing sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identity
[1,2]. The constantly changing social and political contexts that
frame children’s development of sexuality, sexual orientation,
and gender identity present challenges to measuring the size of
the population of LGBT youth in general and early adolescents in
particular [3]. Cognitive, social, and cultural factors also affect
students’ interpretation of and responses to survey questions
about sexual orientation and gender identity [4]. Students may
also be hesitant to identify themselves as LGBT to protect their
privacy and/or avoid stigma and discrimination, even on anony-
mous surveys [5].
These challenges have resulted in a dearth of studies that
estimate the size of the lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) youth
population in the United States and a near complete lack of data
on the size of the population of transgender youth. To date, only
a small number of studies using probability samples provide
national population estimates for LGB youth in high school, and
fewer include youth in middle school [1]. The most rigorous
studies (i.e., those based on large probability-based samples)
have not included respondents younger than 18 years (e.g., Na-
tional Health and Social Life Survey [2010], General Social Sur-
veys [2008]; National Survey of Family Growth [2002]). Just two
published studies used data from probability samples, included
item(s) related to sexual orientation, and included middle
school-aged respondents. In the first study, published in 1992, 1%
of approximately 35,000 respondents aged 12–17 years identi-
* Address correspondence to: John P. Shields, PhD, MSW, Senior Research
Associate II, Education, Training and Research Associates (ETR), 251 Rhode Island
Street, Suite 204, San Francisco, CA 94103.
E-mail address: johns@etr.org (J.P. Shields).
Journal of Adolescent Health 52 (2013) 248–250
www.jahonline.org
1054-139X/$ - see front matter 2013 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. All rights reserved.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.06.016
fied as “homosexual or bisexual,” whereas another 5% reported
they were “mostly heterosexual,” and 2% were “unsure” [6]. The
second study, which analyzed Add Health data from more than
12,000 7th–12th grade students, found that 5% of female subjects
and 7.3% of male subjects reported “same-sex romantic attrac-
tion” [7]. To our knowledge, no study has been published that
estimates the size of the transgender population at the middle
school level.
This study provides estimates of the size of the LGBT popula-
tions at the middle school level using data from the San Francisco
Unified School District (SFUSD), which in 2011 became the first
district in the country to include items on both sexual orientation
and gender identity on their middle school Youth Risk Behavior
Survey (YRBS).
Methods
Using a stratified random sampling design, the 2011 YRBS
was administered to 2,730 youth (grades 68) across all 22
public middle schools in San Francisco in compliance with the
CDC’s administration guidelines and state regulations on parent
consent/notification. The process yielded a 74% survey comple-
tion rate, surpassing the CDC’s 60% criteria for the generation of
weighted data. CDC statisticians calculated sampling weights,
strata, and primary sampling unit statistics. Cross-tabs using
complex samples methods, which incorporate sampling param-
eters (i.e., strata, weight, and primary sampling unit) into the
analyses, were used to derive population estimates and their
confidence intervals. The YRBS results are representative of all
SFUSD students in grades 68.
Measures
Following the CDC guidelines, standard YRBS demographic
items (e.g., sex, race/ethnicity, age, and grade) were included in
the analyses if no fewer than 100 respondents were represented
[8]. Sexual orientation was measured using the item, “Which of
the following best describes you?” and the response set “hetero-
sexual (straight); gay or lesbian; bisexual; and not sure.” Trans-
gender-inclusive gender was measured with the item, “What is
your gender?” and the response set “female; male; and transgen-
der.”
Results
Population estimates show 3.8% of students in SFUSD middle
schools identify as LGB (Table 1). Within the 3.8% of LGB students,
1.7% identify as gay or lesbian and 2.1% as bisexual. Another
12.1% of students responded they were “not sure” about their
sexual orientation. Results also show 1.3% of students identify as
transgender, resulting in a weighted population estimate of 137
transgender youth. Across available demographic variables, the
proportion of LGB and transgender youth appeared to increase
with age and varied by race/ethnicity (Table 2). Although LGB
students were represented in each race/ethnicity group, Chinese
students, who comprised 38.3% of the YRBS sample, reported a
significantly smaller LGB population (p.05) than African Amer-
ican, Hispanic/Latino, white, and multiple race students. No sig-
nificant differences were found across racial groups of transgen-
der students.
Discussion and Conclusions
The population estimates derived in this study clearly dem-
onstrate the presence of LGBT students at the middle school
level. The large proportion of students (12.1%) who report being
“unsure” of their sexual orientation is likely owing to a combina-
tion of factors, including the variability of developmental trajec-
tories across youth; their social, cultural, and familial contexts;
and differences in youths’ understanding and interpretation of
the survey item. Additional research is needed on the reliability
and validity of the items used to measure sexual orientation and
gender identity. Research is also needed on the social, political,
and economic contexts that may affect the size of LGBT youth
populations in specific communities.
Although the CDC permits the inclusion of items on sexual
orientation and/or gender identity on the YRBS, to date, only 17
of the 76 high school sites have chosen to do so. Data from the
Table 1
Sexual orientation and gender identity of middle school students: population statistics
Sexual orientation/
gender identity
Unweighted count Population estimate Standard error 95% Confidence interval
Lower Upper
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual 2,254 8,721.410 316.362 8,094.191 9,348.628
Gay or lesbian 48 172.724 26.727 119.734 225.713
Bisexual 59 217.362 37.171 143.667 291.057
Not sure 276 1,250.964 131.543 990.167 1511. 761
Total 2,637 10,362.459 374.772 9,619.437 11,105.482
Heterosexual 2,254 84.2% 1.1% 81.9% 86.2%
Gay or lesbian 48 1.7% 0.3% 1.2% 2.3%
Bisexual 59 2.1% 0.3% 1.5% 2.9%
Not sure 276 12.1% 1.1% 10.0% 14.5%
Total 2,637 100.0% 0.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Gender identity
Female 1,331 5,148.062 224.796 4,702.382 5,593.742
Male 1,337 5,381.086 231.687 4,921.744 5,840.429
Transgender 33 137.053 48.423 41.050 233.057
Total 2,701 10,666.201 398.453 9,876.230 11,456.173
Female 1,331 48.3% 1.2% 46.0% 50.5%
Male 1,337 50.4% 1.1% 48.2% 52.7%
Transgender 33 1.3% 0.4% 0.6% 2.5%
Total 2,701 100.0% 0.0% 100.0% 100.0%
J.P. Shields et al. / Journal of Adolescent Health 52 (2013) 248–250 249
high school administration sites have provided a range of LGB
population estimates from 3.9% to 7.8% [9]. To our knowledge,
just 4 of the 15 sites that administer the YRBS at the middle
school level included at least one item related to sexual orienta-
tion in 2011, and other sites’ results have not yet been published.
A growing body of data shows LGBT youth are subjected to
disproportionally high rates of harassment, bullying, and other
violence at school and engage in higher rates of health risk
behavior compared with students who are not LGBT [9,10].Itis
critical to explore the YRBS for evidence of similar disparities at
the middle school level. To better understand and support LGBT
youth, it is imperative that all middle school and high school
YRBS administration sites include items on sexual orientation
and gender identity as they would any other demographic item,
such as race/ethnicity, sex, or age.
Acknowledgments
The authors gratefully acknowledge the San Francisco Unified
School District’s School Health Programs staff; its director Kim
Coates; and program managers Kevin Gogin and Kim Levine for
their invaluable contributions to and support of this study. Points
of view or opinions expressed in this document are those of the
authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or
policies of the San Francisco Unified School District.
References
[1] IOM. The health of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; conduct-
ing research on the health status of LGBT populations; Chapter Three:
Childhood/Adolescence. Washington, DC: Institute of Medicine, 2011.
[2] NMSA. Young adolescents’ developmental characteristics. 2007
[cited]; Available at: http://www.amle.org/Research/ResearchSummaries/
DevelopmentalCharacteristics/tabid/1414/Default.aspx.
[3] Miller K, Ryan JM. Design, development and testing of the NHIS sexual
identity question. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics,
2011.
[4] Austin SB, Conron AP, Freedner N, Freedner N. Making sense of sexual
orientation measures: Findings from a cognitive processing study with
adolescents on health survey questions. J LGBT Health Res 2007;3:55–65.
[5] Regan C, Fogarty K. Understanding sexual minority youth. 2008. University
of Florida IFAS Extension. Available at: http://www.education.com.
[6] Remafedi G, Resnick M, Blum R, Harris L. Demography of sexual orientation
in adolescents. Pediatrics 1992;89:714–21.
[7] Russell ST, Joyner K. Adolescent sexual orientation and suicide risk: Evi-
dence from a national study. Am J Public Health 2001;91:1276–81.
[8] CDC. Methodology of the youth risk behavior surveillance system. Atlanta,
GA: Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2004.
[9] Kann L, Olsen E, McManus T, et al. Sexual identity, sex of sexual contacts,
and health-risk behaviors among students in grades 9–12—youth risk be-
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[10] Kosciw JG, Greytak EA, Diaz EM, et al. The 2009 National School Climate
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our nation’s schools. New York: GLSEN, 2010.
Table 2
Population estimates of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) and transgender
middle school students by demographic characteristics
Demographic
characteristics
Percentage of overall
population
(95% confidence interval)
Overall
population
total
LGB students 3.8 (2.9–4.8) 2,637
Sex
Male 3.2 (2.3–4.3) 1,331
Female 3.8 (2.8–5.3) 1,293
Age (years)
11 or younger 1.2 (.6–2.5) 435
12 2.7 (1.9–4.0) 1,014
13 5.9 (4.4–7.9) 970
Grade
6th 1.9 (.9–3.7) 476
7th 2.9 (2.1–4.1) 1,110
8th 5.5 (4.5–6.8) 1,013
Race/ethnicity
African American
a
6.8 (3.7–12.2) 161
Chinese 1.6 (1.0–2.5) 921
Filipino 4.5 (2.0–10.0) 138
Hispanic/Latino/a 4.4 (2.7–6.9) 615
White
a
5.7 (3.2–10.1) 227
All other races 3.5 (1.6–7.5) 203
Transgender students 1.3 (.6–2.5) 2,701
Sex
Male 1.1 (.6–2.1) 1,355
Female 1.0 (.5–2.0) 1,334
Age (years)
11 or younger .6 (.3–1.8) 242
12 .8 (.3–2.1) 543
13 1.7 (.8–3.7) 456
Grade
6th .8 (.2–2.9) 259
7
th
.9 (.4–2.1) 568
8th 1.1 (.6–2.0) 490
Race/ethnicity
African American
a
2.6 (.9–7.8) 84
Chinese .5 (.2–1.2) 475
Filipino
b
70
Hispanic/Latino/a 1.9 (.7–5.1) 297
White
a
.7 (.2–2.9) 109
All other races 2.0 0.6
Multiple races 2.1 0.8
a
Non-Hispanic/Latino/a.
b
Fewer than 100 students in the subgroup.
J.P. Shields et al. / Journal of Adolescent Health 52 (2013) 248–250250
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This report describes research to develop and evaluate a sexual identity question for the National Health Interview Survey. Development and then evaluation of the question is based on findings from cognitive testing studies conducted by the Questionnaire Design Research Laboratory (QDRL), specifically, 7 previous testing projects as well as this current study which, taken together, consisted of a total of 386 in-depth cognitive interviews. (For final reports of previous projects, see Q-Bank at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/QBANK/Home.aspx). Additionally, data from the 2002 and 2006 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) were examined to further investigate findings from past cognitive interviewing studies. This report, first, defines the construct to be measured and then outlines known question design problems with existing sexual identity measures. It then presents a revised version of the question and the rationale for the new design. Finally, the report describes the method used to test the new question along with a detailed discussion of the findings. Results suggest that the new design will generate improved estimates of the lesbian, gay and bisexual population.
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This report presents a comprehensive analysis of trends in youth risk behaviors in Lancaster County, as measured by the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) administered in 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997 and 1999. Our report covers five areas of health risk behavior: unintentional and intentional injuries, tobacco use, alcohol and other drug use, sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, and physical activity. This report, and the research data it is based on, was facilitated by the existence of a national Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS). The national YRBS was first implemented in 1990 to measure prevalence among young people of behaviors that put their health at risk. The YRBSS is a coordinated system using a standardized survey tool and sampling methods reproduced in the majority of states and many localities across the United States. Before the establishment of the YRBSS, there was little information on the prevalence of these important risk behaviors among youth in the United States.1 Yet these areas of risk behavior are arguably the major precursors to death, illness and disability among Americans, not only in their teen years, but also later in adult life. Injuries alone account for the majority of deaths among youth and young adults under 25 -- in Lancaster County, motor vehicle crashes, other unintentional injuries, homicide and suicide accounted for 67% of all deaths to those 14 to 24 years of age (see figure below). And although cardiovascular disease and cancer are the major killers of adults (see figure), the majority of risk behaviors for these diseases are initiated during adolescence. Unintended teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease infection acquired in the teen years cause additional illness and death among youth, young adults, and their children.2
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Sexual minority adolescents—those self-identifying as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) or with same-sex desires or sexual experiences—report higher rates of victimization and suicidality than their heterosexual peers, yet little empirical research has examined school factors associated with these risks. This study used data from the Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey (Massachusetts Department of Education, 2000), matched with school-level data from state records and school principals, to compare the safety of 202 sexual minority adolescents in 52 schools with and without support groups for LGB students, to investigate the relationship between perceived staff support and safety, and to explore other school factors associated with victimization and suicidality among these youth. As hypothesized, sexual minority adolescents in schools with LGB support groups reported lower rates of victimization and suicide attempts than those in other schools. Victimization and perceived staff support predicted suicidality. Several additional school factors were associated with the safety of sexual minority students. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Psychol Schs 43: 573–589, 2006.
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Sexual minority youths are youths who identify themselves as gay or lesbian, bisexual, or unsure of their sexual identity or youths who have only had sexual contact with persons of the same sex or with both sexes. Population-based data on the health-risk behaviors practiced by sexual minority youths are needed at the state and local levels to most effectively monitor and ensure the effectiveness of public health interventions designed to address the needs of this population. January 2001-June 2009. The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) monitors priority health-risk behaviors (behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries, behaviors that contribute to violence, behaviors related to attempted suicide, tobacco use, alcohol use, other drug use, sexual behaviors, dietary behaviors, physical activity and sedentary behaviors, and weight management) and the prevalence of obesity and asthma among youths and young adults. YRBSS includes state and local school-based Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBSs) conducted by state and local education and health agencies. This report summarizes results from YRBSs conducted during 2001-2009 in seven states and six large urban school districts that 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. The surveys were conducted among large population-based samples of public school students in grades 9-12. 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% of all the risk behaviors measured, and the prevalence among bisexual students was higher than the prevalence among heterosexual students for a median of 76.0% of all the risk behaviors measured. In addition, the prevalence among gay or lesbian students was more likely to be higher than (rather than equal to or lower than) the prevalence among heterosexual students for behaviors in seven of the 10 risk behavior categories (behaviors that contribute to violence, behaviors related to attempted suicide, tobacco use, alcohol use, other drug use, sexual behaviors, and weight management). Similarly, the prevalence among bisexual students was more likely to be higher than (rather than equal to or lower than) the prevalence among heterosexual students for behaviors in eight of the 10 risk behavior categories (behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries, behaviors that contribute to violence, behaviors related to attempted suicide, tobacco use, alcohol use, other drug use, sexual behaviors, and weight management). Across the 12 sites that assessed sex of sexual contacts, the prevalence among students who had sexual contact with both sexes was higher than the prevalence among students who only had sexual contact with the opposite sex for a median of 71.1% of all the risk behaviors measured, and the prevalence among students who only had sexual contact with the same sex was higher than the prevalence among students who only had sexual contact with the opposite sex for a median of 29.7% of all the risk behaviors measured. Furthermore, the prevalence among students who had sexual contact with both sexes was more likely to be higher than (rather than equal to or lower than) the prevalence among students who only had sexual contact with the opposite sex for behaviors in six of the 10 risk behavior categories (behaviors that contribute to violence, behaviors related to attempted suicide, tobacco use, alcohol use, other drug use, and weight management). The prevalence among students who only had sexual contact with the same sex was more likely to be higher than (rather than equal to or lower than) the prevalence among students who only had sexual contact with the opposite sex for behaviors in two risk behavior categories (behaviors related to attempted suicide and weight management). Sexual minority students, particularly gay, lesbian, and bisexual students and students who had sexual contact with both sexes, are more likely to engage in health-risk behaviors than other students. Effective state and local public health and school health policies and practices should be developed to help reduce the prevalence of health-risk behaviors and improve health outcomes among sexual minority youths. In addition, more state and local surveys designed to monitor health-risk behaviors and selected health outcomes among population-based samples of students in grades 9-12 should include questions on sexual identity and sex of sexual contacts.
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This study was undertaken to explore patterns of sexual orientation in a representative sample of Minnesota junior and senior high school students. The sample included 34,706 students (grades 7 through 12) from diverse ethnic, geographic, and socioeconomic strata. Five items pertaining to sexual attraction, fantasy, behavior, and affiliation were embedded in a self-administered survey of adolescent health. Overall, 10.7% of students were "unsure" of their sexual orientation; 88.2% described themselves as predominantly heterosexual; and 1.1% described themselves as bisexual or predominantly homosexual. The reported prevalence of homosexual attractions (4.5%) exceeded homosexual fantasies (2.6%), sexual behavior (1%), or affiliation (0.4%). Gender differences were minor; but responses to individual sexual orientation items varied with age, religiosity, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Uncertainty about sexual orientation diminished in successively older age groups, with corresponding increases in heterosexual and homosexual affiliation. The findings suggest an unfolding of sexual identity during adolescence, influenced by sexual experience and demographic factors.
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This study is one of the first to examine the association between sexual orientation and health risk behaviors among a representative, school-based sample of adolescents. This study was conducted on an anonymous, representative sample of 4159 9th- to 12th-grade students in public high schools from Massachusetts' expanded Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1995 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Sexual orientation was determined by the following question: "Which of the following best describes you?" A total of 104 students self-identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual (GLB), representing 2.5% of the overall population. Of GLB youth, 66.7% were male and 70% were white (not Hispanic). Health risk and problem behaviors were analyzed comparing GLB youth and their peers. Those variables found to be significantly associated with GLB youth were then analyzed by multiple logistic regression models. GLB youth were more likely than their peers to have been victimized and threatened and to have been engaged in a variety of risk behaviors including suicidal ideation and attempts, multiple substance use, and sexual risk behaviors. Four separate logistic regression models were constructed. Model I, Onset of Behaviors Before Age 13, showed use of cocaine before age 13 years as strongly associated with GLB orientation (odds ratio [OR]: 6.10; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.45-15.20). Early initiation of sexual intercourse (2.15; 10.6-4.38), marijuana use (1.98; 1.04-4.09), and alcohol use (1.82; 1.03-3.23) also was associated with GLB orientation. Model II, Lifetime Frequencies of Behaviors, showed that frequency of crack cocaine use (1.38; 1.06-1.79), inhalant use (1.30; 1.05-1.61), and number of sexual partners (1.27; 1.06-1.43) was associated with GLB orientation. Model III, Frequency of Recent Behaviors, showed smokeless tobacco use in the past 30 days (1.38; 1. 20-1.59) and number of sexual partners in the previous 3 months (1. 47; 1.31-1.65) were associated with GLB orientation. Model IV, Frequency of Behaviors at School, showed having one's property stolen or deliberately damaged (1.23; 1.08-1.40) and using marijuana (1.29; 1.05-1.59) and smokeless tobacco (1.53; 1.30-1.81) were associated with GLB orientation. Overall, GLB respondents engaged disproportionately in multiple risk behaviors, reporting an increased mean number of risk behaviors (mean = 6.81 +/- 4.49) compared with the overall student population (mean = 3.45 +/- 3.15). GLB youth who self-identify during high school report disproportionate risk for a variety of health risk and problem behaviors, including suicide, victimization, sexual risk behaviors, and multiple substance use. In addition, these youth are more likely to report engaging in multiple risk behaviors and initiating risk behaviors at an earlier age than are their peers. These findings suggest that educational efforts, prevention programs, and health services must be designed to address the unique needs of GLB youth.
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To examine the relationship between the number of male sexual partners of adolescent males and the frequency of victimization at school, missed school because of fear, used drugs at school, and engagement of fighting and weapon carrying both in and out of school. Sexually active male adolescents (N = 3886) in 8th through 12th grades were administered the 1995 Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey. A total of 8.7% of male adolescents reported one or more male sexual partners. Alcohol, marijuana, and smokeless tobacco use at school, not attending school because of fear, having been threatened or injured with a weapon at school, and weapon carrying at school accounted for 15.8% of the variation in the number of male sexual partners (p < 0.0001). Suicide attempts, school absence because of fear, cigarette smoking, alcohol use, and smokeless tobacco use at school, frequency of fighting requiring medical treatment, carrying a weapon,aand carrying a weapon at school accounted for 17.2% out of 100% of the variation in the number of male sexual partners (p < or 0.00001). The number of male sexual partners reported by sexually active male adolescents correlated with a higher frequency of victimization, use of violence and drug use at school. Frequency of suicide attempts and fighting outside of school were also correlated with the number of same-sex sexual partners.
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Sexual orientation has been a debated risk factor for adolescent suicidality over the past 20 years. This study examined the link between sexual orientation and suicidality, using data that are nationally representative and that include other critical youth suicide risk factors. Data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health were examined. Survey logistic regression was used to control for sample design effects. There is a strong link between adolescent sexual orientation and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. The strong effect of sexual orientation on suicidal thoughts is mediated by critical youth suicide risk factors, including depression, hopelessness, alcohol abuse, recent suicide attempts by a peer or a family member, and experiences of victimization. The findings provide strong evidence that sexual minority youths are more likely than their peers to think about and attempt suicide.