4047.0: Tuesday, November 14, 2000 - 9:40 AM

Abstract #9898

Sexual minority adolescent girls: A population at risk? A secondary analysis of the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health

Laura A. Szalacha, EdM, Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA 02138, 617-796-0858, Laura_Szalacha@GSE.Harvard.Edu

The numerous reports documenting the health status of youth in the United States, albeit virtually ignoring the demographic characteristic of sexual orientation, all conclude that the main threats to adolescents' health are predominantly the health-risk behaviors and choices that they make. While the few studies that we have of LGBT adolescents confirm these findings, their small samples of convenience can not be considered representative. The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health is a large, nationally representative sample. This longitudinal study of adolescents (grades 7 - 12) and the multiple social contexts in which they live, contains 10,000 female adolescents (first wave, 1995). Approximately 6% of whom reported either being romantically attracted to or sexually experienced with other girls or girls and boys. The interviews included several standardized, validated instruments used in national and state surveys of adolescents. These analyses concentrate on the mental health status and risky health behaviors (alcohol, tobacco and illegal drug use), as well as suicidality among the biological females with a contrast between heterosexual and sexual minority girls. The sexual minority girls report smoking, drinking, using illegal drugs and contemplating suicide all significantly more often than did the heterosexual girls. However, the sexual minority girls also reported significantly higher rates of unwanted and coerced sexual encounters (by boys/men) and lower parental support. In examining the multi-level models (fit in SUDAAN to adjust for the clustering of observations), it appears that external stressors play a significant role in sexual minority girls' placing themselves at risk.

Learning Objectives: Substantively: to recognize the greater risk for both substance abuse and suicidal ideology among sexual minority youth and the impact of victimization and sexual violence on health risk behaviours. Methologically: to understand the particular analytic methods suitable for large scale survey data

Keywords: Adolescent Health, Substance Abuse

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health Data
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA