Out yonder: sexual-minority adolescents in rural communities in British Columbia

Am J Public Health. 2009 Jan;99(1):118-24. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2007.122945. Epub 2008 Nov 13.


Objectives: We compared sexual-minority adolescents living in rural communities with their peers in urban areas in British Columbia, exploring differences in emotional health, victimization experiences, sexual behaviors, and substance use.

Methods: We analyzed a population-based sample of self-identified lesbian, gay, or bisexual respondents from the British Columbia Adolescent Health Survey of 2003 (weighted n=6905). We tested rural-urban differences separately by gender with the chi2 test and logistic regressions.

Results: We found many similarities and several differences. Rural sexual-minority adolescent boys were more likely than were their urban peers to report suicidal behaviors and pregnancy involvement. Rural sexual-minority adolescents, especially girls, were more likely to report various types of substance use. Rural status was associated with a lower risk of dating violence and higher risk of early sexual debut for sexual-minority girls and a higher risk of dating violence and lower risk of early sexual debut for sexual-minority boys.

Conclusions: Location should be a demographic consideration in monitoring the health of sexual-minority adolescents. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents in rural communities may need additional support and services as they navigate adolescence.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Bisexuality / psychology
  • Bisexuality / statistics & numerical data*
  • British Columbia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Health Surveys
  • Homosexuality, Female / psychology
  • Homosexuality, Female / statistics & numerical data*
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Minority Groups / psychology
  • Minority Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk-Taking
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data*