A recently released study by the University of British Columbia reports that lesbian, gay, and bisexual teens are at higher risk of being involved in a teen pregnancy than heterosexual teens. The study compared written surveys of 30,000 students, administered in the years 1992, 1998, and 2003, and included questions about sexual health, risk behaviors, and sexual orientation. Overall, teen pregnancy rates have decreased for all groups, but lesbians are still two and half times more likely to have had at least one pregnancy than their heterosexual peers.
I must admit, at first I wasn't really as shocked by the findings of this study as I probably should have been. I don't think it is all that uncommon for GLBT teens to be sexually promiscuous with the opposite sex. That may seem counter intuitive to some, but it's part of the journey to accepting and becoming for many. Whether we engage in this behavior because we think we can make ourselves not gay by having sex with enough people of the opposite sex, or to try to fit in, or to try avoid ridicule and the stigma of being gay, or even just because we're curious, it all stems from one thing: sexuality is confusing territory for adolescents. And when your sexuality deviates from most everyone in your peer group, it can become an all consuming factor in your life. Some are lucky they have the ability and the courage to accept it right away, some deny it and try to bury deep down, and some try to avoid it all and escape life by using drugs and alcohol.
I used to think that it must be so much easier to be a gay teen now than when I was young, but I don't think it's any different now than it was 20 years ago. In fact, if anything, it might be more difficult. I think kids are less respectful of each other now more than ever. There is just as much pressure to conform now as there was then. While the national climate as a whole seems to be slowly changing, and as an adult I can see the change and the progress that has occurred in the last 20 years, I believe the message teens get is still that gay is no equal to straight, and gay is not acceptable.
If you think I'm wrong, then why isn't homosexuality taught as a part of human sexuality in schools? Why, at most schools, are gay couples not allowed to go as a couple to prom, or any dance for that matter? Why is the phrase "that's so gay" an accepted part of teen vernacular. Why is it that the ultimate teen put down is to call someone faggot or dyke? And why don't teachers or coaches do anything to stop it (read Pat Griffin's LGBT Sport Blog post Saying "That's So Gay!" is So Yesterday!)? Why are 30% of homeless teens gay? A percentage that is way out of whack when you consider that GLBT people make up less than 10% of the population. Why do 33% of LGBT teens attempt suicide at some point in their youth? That is a rate 4 times higher than for the heterosexual teen population. Why are kids still beat up for being gay?
Cecilia Brown, who blogs at PLAGAL: Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians wrote this of her experience as a gay teen.
When I was young I knew I was different than everyone else. The only thing I ever heard when I was growing up was how "queers were *&%#*& perverts". I spent my time trying to pretend I was someone else, straight. As a result I ended up not with just one unintended pregnancy but two. One ending in abortion that almost ruined my life and the other the birth of my daughter. Because of this experience I have become active in the pro life movement and have gone on to become president of PLAGAL- The Pro life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians. Study: Lesbian teens at higher pregnancy risk
As part of post about reaching a tipping point after a long time not rocking the boat with straight people, Whinging It, wrote about her gay (male) friend getting beat up in high school, just for being gay.
He said, "Look. When I was in high school, I got jumped and beaten up so badly that I ended up in the hospital because I'm gay. I didn't even know I was gay yet, but other people figured it out and thought I should be punished for it. I've made a promise to myself that I will never let someone mis-treat me because of my sexuality when I can do something about it." -The damn flies
While I can completely understand why GLBT teen may be sexually promiscuous with opposite sex partners, for whatever their reasons, while they are trying to figure out who they are, what I don't understand, and I suppose I find a little bit shocking, is why these kids aren't using birth control. And not just birth control in general, but more specifically, condoms. Um, Hello. Not only pregnancy is pregnancy a concern, but what about STDs. Despite the ridiculous push for abstinence only education in this country, it can't be that kids in general just aren't informed about birth control and condom use, because that wouldn't explain why the straight teen don't seem to have any trouble getting a hold of birth control.
So is it that LGBT teens are just more self destructive, or think they have no real future, therefore they take greater risks by not using protection? Or are they intentionally trying to get pregnant, as is one theory put forth for the study's researchers.
"Some people will reach for an identity that has more respect, more positive value. And in our society, what's more valued than fatherhood or motherhood? We have holidays for them," Saewyc said. "So even though teen parenthood isn't very valued and it's not all that respected, per se, it is a more positive identity in some places than being gay, lesbian or bisexual." -The Vancouver Sun
I don't know the answer to this one, I just find it disturbing that so many kids are taking such risks with their lives and their futures. I just wish more straight people could see and understand the affects of there views and opinions about homosexuality on LGBT teens. We are who we are, and we can't be anyone else.
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