Reproductive Health Among Sexual Minority Youth


Reproductive Health Among Sexual Minority Youth

This study will assess reproductive health among sexual minority youth, and to understand risk and protective factors for reproductive health among members of this vulnerable population.

Many of the problems experienced by sexual minority youth - such as family problems, problems in the peer group, victimization and bullying - have been well documented (IOM, 2011), but other potential problem areas are less well known. For example, some research with lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents’ sexual behavior has found early and risky patterns of sexual behavior among sexual minority youth (IOM, 2011). Most surprising to many observers is evidence among sexual minority youth of early and risky sexual behavior with opposite sex partners. In fact, the results of some studies suggest that rates of pregnancy among sexual minority girls may be as high or even higher than those among heterosexual girls (Saewyc et al., 1999). One study reported that sexual minority adolescent boys were more likely than heterosexual boys to say that they had fathered a child (Saewyc et al., 1998). Many existing studies suffer from a number of problems, however, such as small samples, non-representative sampling, and use of non-standard assessment techniques. Despite the significance of reproductive health outcomes, and despite clear evidence of increased mental health problems among lesbian and gay youth, only one study of a representative sample of sexual minority youth in the United States has yet been reported, and it was based on data from a single state that are now more than twenty years old (Saewyc et al., 1999).

This work will allow creation of a comprehensive, contemporary profile of sexual and reproductive behavior among sexual minority as compared with heterosexual youth in the United States. In this initial phase, using data from the NSFG, we seek to document sexual and reproductive health difficulties among sexual minority youth. NIH funding will then be sought to understand more fully the risk and protective factors associated with sexual and reproductive health among these high-risk youngsters.

Principle Investigator - Charlotte J. Patterson - Professor of Psychology