Purpose: To examine the link between victimization at school and health risk behaviors using representative data comparing lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youths and heterosexual youths.
Methods: Data from the 1995 Youth Risk Behavior Survey taken in Massachusetts and Vermont were examined. This sample included 9188 9th through 12th grade students; 315 of these students were identified as LGB. Analyses of variance were used to examine health risk behaviors by sexual orientation by gender by victimization level.
Results: The combined effect of LGB status and high levels of at-school victimization was associated with the highest levels of health risk behaviors. LGB youths reporting high levels of at-school victimization reported higher levels of substance use, suicidality, and sexual risk behaviors than heterosexual peers reporting high levels of at-school victimization. Also, LGB youths reporting low levels of at-school victimization reported levels of substance use, suicidality, and sexual-risk behaviors that were similar to heterosexual peers who reported low at-school victimization.
Conclusions: The findings provide evidence that differences in health risks among LGB youth are mediated by victimization at school. Such victimization of LGB youth is associated with health risk behaviors.