Effects of at-school victimization and sexual orientation on lesbian, gay, or bisexual youths' health risk behavior

J Adolesc Health. 2002 May;30(5):364-74. doi: 10.1016/s1054-139x(01)00415-3.


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Bisexuality
  • Crime Victims / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Surveys
  • Homosexuality, Female
  • Homosexuality, Male
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massachusetts
  • Risk-Taking
  • Schools
  • Sexual Behavior*