Health Risks Among Sexual Minority Youth

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Author(s): The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Published: August 2016

Report Intro/Brief:
"This report describes the first nationally representative study of U.S. lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) high school students. It compares the prevalence of 118 health behaviors among sexual minority students to the prevalence of these behaviors among non-sexual minority students. The findings from this report show the rates at which LGB high school students experience many health risks, compared with heterosexual students. These health risks are most apparent among students who identify themselves as LGB. Specifically, this report found that 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)

While physical and sexual violence and bullying are serious health dangers on their own, a combination of complex factors can place young people at high risk for suicide, depression, addiction, poor academic performance, and other severe consequences. Data demonstrate that LGB students may be at substantial risk for these serious outcomes:

  • More than 40% of LGB students have seriously considered suicide, and 29% reported having attempted suicide during the past 12 months.
  • Sixty percent of LGB students reported having been so sad or hopeless they stopped doing some of their usual activities.
  • LGB students are up to five times more likely than other students to report using illegal drugs.
  • More than 1 in 10 LGB students reported missing school during the past 30 days due to safety concerns. While not a direct measure of school performance, absenteeism has been linked to low graduation rates, which can have lifelong consequences."