Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) teens in Canada are reportedly at a higher risk of pregnancy because of discrimination, sexual abuse and harassment compared to heterosexual teens.
This according to a University of British Columbia study, released in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality.
The survey includes questions about sexual health and risk behaviours, as well as questions about sexual orientation. British Columbia is the only Canadian province that tracks trends in sexual health for both LGB youth and heterosexual teens.
“Teen pregnancy is declining, but the risk is still higher for LGB youth,” said lead author Elizabeth Saewyc, an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing at UBC and Research Director at the McCreary Centre Society.
According to the results, lesbian and bisexual teens involved in pregnancy were twice as likely to have experienced discrimination because of their sexual orientation. They also reported more kinds of harassment at school than lesbian or bisexual teens who hadn’t been pregnant or caused a pregnancy.
“This issue is not unique to British Columbia,” said Saewyc. “Population studies in other countries have also documented higher rates of teen pregnancy among sexual minority youth. We expect other provinces in Canada would report similar results if they conducted similar surveys.”
The study identified trends in risk behaviours that lead to pregnancy, such as lack of condom use and early sex (before age 14), which is often due to sexual abuse. The pattern of these risk behaviours among LGB and heterosexual teens followed the same trends as pregnancy involvement.
In 1992, LGB students were two to seven times more likely to have been pregnant or caused a pregnancy than their straight peers; in 2003, they were still more than twice as likely to be involved in a pregnancy.
“Reducing the levels of stigma, harassment, and sexual violence that LGB youth face, and creating safer, more supportive schools for LGB youth is a key step,” said Saewyc.