Purpose: To compare the risk status on health and behavior for those with same-sex partners and those without.
Methods: Add Health data provide a sample of 20,745 adolescents in grades 7 through 12 interviewed at home. The risk statuses of respondents with no partners, same-sex-only partners, and partners of both sexes were compared to respondents with opposite-sex partners only. Respondents were evaluated on selected personal and social attributes (verbal IQ, family structure, masculinity, popularity), and risk status (substance use, depression, suicidal thoughts, anal sex, general delinquency, being physically attacked, perceived risk of being killed or getting AIDS). Data were analyzed by logistic and linear regression using STATA to adjust for clustering and sampling weights.
Results: Compared to boys with opposite-sex-only partners, boys with same-sex-only partners were at high risk for emotional problems, but not delinquency or substance use. Boys with partners of both sexes were at high risk for delinquency and substance use, but not for emotional problems. Neither group of boys with same-sex partners is at high risk of being attacked compared to those with opposite-sex partners only. Girls with only same-sex partners are never a high-risk group, while girls with partners of both sexes are the high-risk category in every case.
Conclusions: Adolescents with same-sex-only partners do not resemble those with partners of both sexes in risk status. Combining the two categories obscures the unique risk profile of those with both-sex partners, and obscures the low risk on most variables but the high emotional risk of boys with only same-sex partners.