Preventing sexual risk behaviors among gay, lesbian, and bisexual adolescents: the benefits of gay-sensitive HIV instruction in schools

Am J Public Health. 2001 Jun;91(6):940-6. doi: 10.2105/ajph.91.6.940.


Objectives: This study compared sexual risk behaviors of gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) and heterosexual adolescents and evaluated associations between gay-sensitive HIV instruction and risk behaviors of GLB youths.

Methods: A random sample of high school students and HIV education teachers completed surveys. Self-reported risk behaviors of heterosexual and GLB adolescents were compared, with control for student and community demographic characteristics. Sexual risk behaviors of GLB youths in schools with and without gay-sensitive instruction were compared.

Results: GLB youths reported more substance use, high-risk sexual behaviors, suicidal thoughts or attempts, and personal safety issues than did heterosexual youths (P < .001). Among those who were sexually active, GLB youths reported more lifetime and recent sexual partners than did heterosexuals (P < .001), and more of them reported alcohol use before last sex (P < .01) and a history of pregnancy (P < .001). GLB youths in schools with gay-sensitive instruction reported fewer sexual partners, less recent sex, and less substance use before last sex than did GLB youths in other schools (P < .05).

Conclusions: The findings document increased risk behaviors among GLB youths and demonstrate the potential benefits of providing gay-sensitive HIV instruction in schools.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Bisexuality / psychology*
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Health Education*
  • Heterosexuality / psychology
  • Homosexuality / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massachusetts / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Safe Sex / statistics & numerical data
  • Schools
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology