CDC Publishes First National Study of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Students’ Health

CDC recently published a new study, “Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-related Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9-12—United States and Selected Sites, 2015” in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. This new study compares the prevalence of more than 100 health behaviors among lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) students to their heterosexual peers. These analyses are possible due to the inclusion of two new questions about sex of sexual contacts and sexual identity on the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). The YRBS is the nation’s principal source of data for tracking national health risk behaviors among high school students.

These data provide insight into health behaviors among 1.3 million LGB students. Compared to their heterosexual peers, LGB students are significantly more likely to report:

  • Being physically forced to have sex (18% LGB vs. 5% heterosexual)
  • Experiencing sexual dating violence (23% LGB vs. 9% heterosexual)
  • Experiencing physical dating violence (18% LGB vs. 8% heterosexual)
  • Being bullied at school or online (at school: 34% LGB vs. 19% heterosexual; online: 28% LGB vs. 14% heterosexual)

These study findings are a first step toward better understanding the critical health and safety issues facing LGB youth and determining effective solutions. These findings emphasize the need for accelerated action to protect the health and well-being of LGB students through school, community and family support. These data allow CDC to look closely at these health-related behaviors and identify important research questions for further study. CDC will continue to provide partners with evidenced-based tools to help schools promote safe and supportive environments for all students and develop and evaluate effective programs and policies to improve the health and safety of LGB students.

Learn more about this important new study from the following CDC resources:

About Kim Rodgers

Kim Rodgers serves as a Communications Specialist at NACCHO. Her work includes promoting local health departments' best practices, as well as partner tools and resources, in infectious disease and preparedness through NACCHO's communications channels, storytelling, and outreach to various audiences.

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