Online Program

Predicting adolescent sexual behavior by sexual identity and sexual attraction

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 1:15 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Michele Ybarra, MPH PhD, Center for Innovative Public Health Research, San Clemente, CA
Joseph Kosciw, PhD, Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, New York, NY
Kimberly Mitchell, PhD, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH
Background: Understanding how sexual attraction, behavior, and sexual orientation relate to each other in adolescence is critical to ensure that appropriate tailoring and targeting of healthy sexuality programs is being done.

Methods: A national survey of 5,542 13-18 year olds, with an oversample of LGBT youth, was conducted online. Data were weighted to approximate a representative adolescent sample. For the purposes of this paper, transgender youth were not included in the analysis.

Results: Ninety four percent of youth identified as heterosexual, 1.3% as gay, 0.6% as lesbian, and 3.1% as bisexual. For the majority of youth, sexual identity was consistent with attraction. However, 5% of heterosexual females and 1.6% of heterosexual males reported some attraction to the same gender. Similar findings were noted for sexual activity: 2.4% of heterosexual females and 3.6% of heterosexual males reported having vaginal or anal sex with someone of the same gender. Among gay and lesbian adolescents, lesbian youth were more likely than gay youth (60% vs. 3%) to report having recent sexual experience with a partner of the opposite gender.

Conclusions: Although sexual identity is consistent with attraction and behavior in most cases, important contradictions are noted also. Given the varying overlap across attraction, behavior and sexual identity, healthy sexuality programs should be mindful not to conflate behavior (i.e., MSM) with sexual identity (i.e., gay, bisexual, or queer).

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Explain the overlap between sexual identity and behavior among adolescents

Keyword(s): Adolescent Health, Sexual Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the PI on the project, overseeing data collection. I analyzed the data and led the writing of the abstract.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.